Hudson Bay Railway

Two of western Canada's earliest railway charters, granted in 1880, authorized construction, with government help, of railways parallelling old water transportation routes to Hudson Bay. The projects were amalgamated in 1883 and the first 64 km built northward into the Manitoba interlake region. Financial problems and a political scandal led to the abandonment of the original mileage in 1888, and the charter was subsequently absorbed by the CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY. The Canadian Northern, with government aid designated for the Hudson Bay Railway, built a new northwesterly line from Winnipeg to Hudson Bay Junction (1908) as part of its east-west system, but refused to build north of Hudson Bay Junction without further massive government assistance.

In 1909 the federal government undertook rail construction north of Hudson Bay Junction and improvement of harbour facilities at the proposed terminus of Nelson. During WWI work was suspended, and in 1923 the project became a part of CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS. Construction advanced only slowly and at great expense, particularly when Nelson was abandoned and the line deflected to the more northerly port of CHURCHILL. The railway opened officially on 10 September 1929 as the Hudson Bay Railway. Total cost exceeded $45 million. Intended as a grain road, the railway was a disappointment until mineral discoveries around The Pas and Thompson, Manitoba, generated larger traffic volumes.