Railway History by John M. Mills
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Ontario’s Grand River Valley Electric Railways, John M. Mills, Fall 2010, Transportation, 224 pages, 15 maps, 400 photographs, 50 in colour, 8 x 10.5
ISBN: 978-1-897190-52-4 (paper) . . . $54.95
Ontario's Grand River Valley Electric Railways
This book concentrates on the electric lines of the part of Southern Ontario adjacent to the Grand River (plus a corporate outpost at Woodstock). Naturally fertile and prosperous, this area attracted early settlement which coalesced around two points: the head of river navigation at Brantford, and the waterpower sites at and north of Galt. The latter gave rise to a densely-settled triangle bounded by Galt (which later, with Preston and Hespeler, was incorporated into today’s City of Cambridge), Waterloo, and Guelph, with outliers to the north at the Elmira and Fergus areas.
Such conditions were ideal for the development of local railway transportation which appeared as expected: horsecar lines were built at an early date in Brantford and Berlin/Waterloo, and the Galt Preston & Hespeler was one of the first electric interurban lines in Canada. The vitality of the lines, particularly those in the northerly triangle, was thus established, and it continued for many years. The transformation of the GP&H into the Grand River Railway in the early 1920s was the most complete reconstruction in Canadian electric railway transit history.
The book tells the story of the area's streetcars, trolley coaches, and interurban railways that provided both local and inter-city passenger, freight, and express delivery services to communities such as Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hespeler, Galt, Preston, Brantford, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Port Dover and many more. It explains how the individual railways began, the politics and economics that impacted their development, their rise and eventual decline. Profusely-illustrated with many rare photos, the book features over 400 images, about 50 of them in superb colour. Fifteen maps provide details on where the lines ran, and an equipment list delivers details on the various companies’ rolling stock.
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Ontario's Grand River Valley Electric Railways won a US Independent Publishers' Award for best Railway/Transportation book in 2010.
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.
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