Historic Sites of Manitoba: First Railway in Western Canada Plaque (Dominion City, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)

On 3 December 1878, a ceremony was held at this site in Dominion City, in what is now the Municipality of Emerson-Franklin, for the completion of the Pembina Branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the first standard-gauge railway in western Canada.

The ceremony was attended by a large group of people, including William F. Alloway, John F. Bain, Mr. Baldwin, Andrew G. B. Bannatyne, Charles N. Bell, Sedley Blanchard, Frederick T. Bradley, George Brown, Thomas Carney, Mr. Douglass, Arthur F. Eden, Thomas Howard, Mr. Killer, Alexander Logan, William H. Lyon, J. St. L. McGinn, George S. McTavish, Thomas Nixon, James H. Rowan, Thomas Scott, Jacob Smith, George B. Spencer, Mr. Stiles, D. W. Stobart, John Sutherland, James W. Taylor, and Mr. Traill.

The Pembina Branch ran some 100 kilometres from St. Boniface to the international boundary at Emerson, connecting Manitoba to eastern Canada by rail through the United States. Proposed in the 1860s, this line was ultimately endorsed by Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie in 1874 as an alternative to a more expensive all-Canadian railway line. The route brought prosperity to the region, serving as an important link with eastern Canada until the railway reached Winnipeg via an all-Canadian route in 1883.

Designated in 1954 as an event of national historic significance, a monument commemorating the Pembina Branch, located beside the Manitoba’s Biggest Sturgeon Monument, was erected in July 2008 by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

First railway in Western Canada commemorative plaque

First railway in Western Canada commemorative plaque (August 2010)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.14235, W97.15601
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Plaques for Persons, Events and Sites of National Historic Significance

Commemorating the first railway in Western Canada
Manitoba History, Number 58, June 2008


“Rail communication established,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 December 1878, page 1.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 August 2019

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