Canada’s first railway, commissioned in 1831

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Artist: Alex Taylor

For Montreal merchants connecting with steamers on Lake Champlain on their way to New York, the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad would cut hours off the journey, proving a boon to business. The railway was opened to horse traffic in 1836 and finally to locomotives in 1837.

Largely financed by Bank of Montreal director John Molson, the project is a good example of the bank’s early pragmatic and clear-eyed approach to infrastructure projects. Given the importance of the route and its short distance, this railroad presented minimal risk.


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