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Railway History by John M. Mills

Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway

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Niagara, St. Catharines, & Toronto Railway: A Canadian National Electric Railways Subsidiary, John M. Mills, Spring 2008, Transportation, 256 pages, 9 maps,
300 photographs, 50 colour, 8 x 10.5

ISBN: 978-1-897190-27-2 (paper) . . . $44.95




Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto Railway

From its inception as a horsecar line in 1874, the Niagara, St. Catharines, & Toronto Railway is one of the foremost examples in Canada of an intensively developed and closely integrated transportation system. It operated local street railways, interurban lines, carload and less-than-carload freight, lake steamers, a large motor coach system, and even a circle trolley line around the Niagara Gorge. The NS&T and predecessors include the first electric railway in Canada to have operated without interruption, and the last interurban passenger service. Each aspect of the company’s operations was coordinated with others to form a transportation system which, while comparatively small in area, was very active in operation, and several distinct types of passenger service (local, commuter, inter-city and excursion) were developed. Author John Mills tells the story of all of them, with details on where the routes ran, maps of the line, stations, and connections with the many major railways that served the Niagara Peninsula. There are 256 pages of text, containing nine detailed system maps, a roster of the railway’s rolling stock, and over 300 fascinating photographs, fifty in full colour.


Why you'll love this book!

Niagara, St. Catharines, & Toronto Railway tells the story of one of the area’s primary people mover operations in the days before automobile travel became dominant. With electric interurban railway cars and city streetcars serving key towns along the line, and ship connections to Toronto, the thriving and growing communities of Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland, Port Dalhousie and others were well connected with other parts of Canada. They were also well connected with USA, thanks to frequent clean-running electric cars that travelled across the Canada-USA border on a regular through-fare basis.

With hundreds of photos, many in full colour, the spectacular scenery of the area comes alive. Equipment is described, the system’s operations chronicled, and the excitement of expanding ship and electric transit is captured for the reader.


About the Author

John Mills was born in Toronto in 1931, and has lived there all his life. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1952. Shortly thereafter, John entered the business world, but found that a commercial career was not for him, and soon returned to the University of Toronto as an administrative staff member. Being a compulsive researcher, he found this to be an ideal workplace environment, as it provided him with unrestricted access to the university’s enormous collection of information, books, and artifacts.

The author is a founding member of the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association, and is an honourary life member. The OERHA operates the Halton County Radial Railway, featuring historic electric transit vehicles in action at their museum in Milton, Ontario.

Critical Comment

"This exquisite volume by John Mills tells the story of this interesting interurban, street railway, and steamship properties from their December 1874 beginning as a horsecar line in St. Catherines to the final interurban run to Port Colborne in March 1959. Mills deep dive into company history revealed many interesting facts about its operations, equipment, and facilities. For example, in Chapter 14 dealing with the conversion of NStC&T local lines to bus operation, he pointed out that it was the railway’s St. Catherines shops that painted a bus in Canadian National passenger train colors in September 1955 to carry passengers between Windsor and Detroit, when the railway elected to end the practice of ferrying its passenger trains across the Detroit River. The book was generously illustrated throughout and since the operation of the Port Colborne line lasted until 1959, legendary photographers like R. J. Sandusky, J. W. Hood, and J. D.Knowles were able to capture stunning action views of the interurban cars on Kodachrome slide film."

-- David J. Mrozek, Michigan Railfan Nov.-Dec. 2020



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