The first survey for a Quebec-Halifax
line dates from back when there was no Canada, but a collection of colonies
(notably New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). The Royal Engineers, led by Major
Robinson and Lieutenant Henderson, did the survey for the line. The route
would be referred to as 'Major Robinson's Line'. They had drawn a route
going from Halifax to Truro, then north to Miramichi and the Chaleur Bay,
and up the Matapédia Valley to the St. Lawrence. Talks between New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia would break down, delaying the construction of
this line. Only the section between Halifax and Truro is built.
From 1857, things would start to shape up. Queen Victoria would name
Ottawa as the capital of the Province of Canada. From 1864, the four Maritime
Provinces would meet in Charlottetown to discuss about unification. The
construction of a line to connect the Maritimes to Quebec and Ontario would
become key points in making this unification possible.
Confederation became a fact on July 1, 1867, having John A. MacDonald
as the first prime minister of Canada. After negotiations, the building
of what would become Intercolonial Railway becomes reality. $15 million
dollars would be promised, and a commission of four would be setup.
Construction would start in December 1868, and six years later the minister
of Public Works would have to take over the project. The 500 miles linking
Truro and Trois-Rivières opens to traffic on July 1876, 9 years
after Confederation. By this date, the Dominion government would already
own the line. By 1917, the Canadian National Railway Company would come
into existence, taking over the operation of the Intercolonial Railway.
With the years traffic dwindled, until the 1990's recession. By then,
CN was being privatized, and the ex-crown company was looking for ways
to cut spending. On January 19th 1998, CN transfers their line from Moncton,
NB and Mont-Joli, Que to the Quebec Railway Corporation. The QRC creates
a subsidiary to run the line on the New Brunswick side, notably between
Pacific Jct., near Moncton, and Campbellton, NB. The railway would be named
the New Brunswick East Coast Railway (NBEC).