Transportation: The Railway

The Prince Edward Island Railroad, Water Street<br> Gary MacLaren Collection, City of Charlottetown Archives

The Prince Edward Island Railroad, Water Street
Gary MacLaren Collection, City of Charlottetown Archives

Construction of the Prince Edward Island Railway (PEIR) began in 1871. In the age before reliable roads, the Railroad’s steam powered engines made a dramatic improvement in transportation, benefiting almost every part of Island life. Unfortunately, the cost of the Railroad grew to such an extent that by 1872, the colony was on the brink of bankruptcy. Although the Island had previously resisted Confederation, it was now forced to approach the Canadian Government with intentions of joining the Dominion. Ottawa agreed to take on the debt and PEI became a Province of Canada 1 July 1873.  Two years later, the PEIR was completed. In 1948, PEI became the first province to make the switch from steam powered engines to diesel fueled engines – a full ten years before other provinces.  Sadly, only 41 years later, the railway was abandoned.

 

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