Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Lumber Barons, Rascally Politicians & Canada’s Railway King: The Ottawa Valley in the Railway Age

Here is information about an interesting looking presentation from the Perth & District Historical Society for Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Lumber Barons, Rascally Politicians & Canada’s Railway King: The Ottawa Valley in the Railway Age"

For our October 15 meeting, we are pleased to present Perth native son and ex-pat, Brian Gilhuly, on the fascinating story of the Ottawa Valley railroads, including the Perth branch of the Brockville to Ottawa (B&O) line - which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2014.      

Trains!  There are those who embrace the lore of the railway and the sound of the train, and those who just endure them, particularly in more recent years.  In the last half of the 19th century, the train played an integral role in the development of this region and of this country, enabling the growth of commerce and communities, and the movement of people.  Following World War I, the internal combustion engine and private vehicles paved the way to the end of its dominance.

Brian Gilhuly’s recent e-book, and this evening's presentation, carry us down the railroad line of the interaction between lumber, steamboats and local railways, and eventually the national project.  Without a means of transporting sawn lumber to American buyers, the mills of the Ottawa Valley would have remained small, local enterprises.  With the waterfront terminals in Brockville just a short ferry trip from the US railroads, the B & O Railway opened the path to markets to the south and beyond.  Over this track, the lumber barons of the Valley exported their mill production for decades.  The Ottawa Valley was also the natural route for a railway to the Pacific, involving the valley towns and their railways in high finance and low politics.

Brian Gilhuly was born in Perth, the son of the owner of Gilhuly’s Stationery Store, at 47 Foster Street; his mother, Edith, was a nurse at GWMH.  Over a 40-year career with the federal public service, he managed heritage programs as a Director-General with the Canadian Heritage Department.  Since retiring in 2011, Brian has researched the history and social impact of Canada’s railways, and is the author of Arnprior Area Railway History in Maps.  He has lived in Arnprior since 1993.  Brian's father was also manager of Perth's Royal Canadian Legion, and his grandfather, Gordon Gilhuly, was appointed police chief in 1927.

Please join us for an evening trip back to railroad's golden era, at Perth's Royal Canadian Legion, home of the Hall of Remembrance, 26 Beckwith Street E., Perth, at 7:30pm (Toonie donation)

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