Chapter: Connections

Locomotive #3

"I think I can, I know I can..."
1882 Locomotive No 3 CPR to West Coast then to Lac du Bonnet Locomotive No 3

Story

The vast distances across Western Canada presented many challenges to early settlers. For thousands of years Indigenous people had relied on the rivers as the main connections between communities. Rivers, however, tend to meander so it can take a long time to get anywhere on water. The importance of the railways in dramatically reducing travel times should not be underestimated.

The transcontinental railway helped to connect larger Canadian cities, but the creation of the smaller branch lines is what really opened up Manitoba to development. The railways brought settlers to farm, took soldiers off to war, allowed people to visit family, and to go off on fun excursions to the beach. With the railway, life on the prairies was far less isolating.

When Locomotive No. 3 was built in Scotland in 1882 the first powered flight was still almost 20 years away. The engine was shipped to Canada where the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) used it to carry people and supplies across the prairies all the way to the West Coast.

In 1920, No. 3 was sold to the Winnipeg Light and Power Company, where it and Coach 103 ran between Lac du Bonnet to a remote hydro station at Point du Bois. After a road was built to the station, No. 3 was retired, but came back into service with the Prairie Dog Central Railway in 1970.