Troop Train

Most of the journey was made via the Intercolonial Railway, which ran cars from Montreal along the Saint Laurence River to Lévis, opposite Québec City, and then Rivière du Loup, before heading south east to Campbellton, New Brunswick, and continuing to Amherst, Truro and Halifax. (1)

colonist carIn 1916, a troop train would have a commissary car and a table car for food supply and consumption, a baggage car, a first-class sleeper and a proper dining car for officers, and a number of “colonist” cars for other ranks.(2) These were very basic cars designed to carry immigrants and their baggage to their new homes. Such cars could accommodate 72 people, and provided pull-down berths (but no bedding), and even had a little kitchen for the preparation of food during the journey. When carrying troops, the car carried only 54 men. (2) I don’t know if the kitchen area remained.


The steam locomotive stopped about every two hours to take on water, and at divisional points (Lévis, Campbellton, and Moncton) to change crews.(2) Sometimes the trains were met by cheering schoolchildren.(4)

When the train stopped, soldiers were permitted, encouraged, or perhaps required to geCalder standard passtimet off and take some exercise. (2)







(1)  Marsh, James H. “Intercolonial Railway.” Canadian Encyclopedia.2006.
(2) Grout, Derek. Thunder in the Skies. A Canadian Gunner in the Great War. Toronto, 2015. 62
(3) Conlin, Dan. “The Colonist Car.” Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.(4) Grout. 63.

The 1926 image of the inside of a colonist car comes from Library and Archive Canada via Wikimedia Commons. If you look carefully, you can see open berths at the far end of the car, looking rather like large luggage racks.
The photograph of  soldiers playing leapfrog, “Standard pass time [sic] en route on C.P.R.,” is from William Calder, available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project. Calder’s rail journey was from British Columbia, rather longer than the 1450 km (900 miles) or so of Percy’s.

 Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”



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