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Here you will learn about interesting facts and articles about the Railways. You may use the right and upper menu to browse through the different categories of these facts and articles. Same links are also provided below.

Navvies & Railroad Gangs
A Five Day Trip to Toronto
Bogies & Dollies
The Main Men of the Railways
A Royal Prince Opening the Railway
Irish on Railways
Sporting Ways on Railways
Sports Over Time
The Giant Thermometer?
Canada’s Century On Line

Navvies and Railroad Gangs

Railways created jobs that had never existed before. The most obvious new jobs were those seen by the Public on the trains. Conductors, porters, engineers (train drivers), brakemen, and firemen (people who stoked the furnace) were all needed to operate trains. The cook and the food now travelled.

The railway system itself created new jobs. Refrigerator cars started using ice but changed later to sophisticated electrical systems requiring very skilled maintenance. Tank cars were another example. Technology advanced because of the railways, and the kind of jobs needed in the 19th century changed rapidly in the 20th century. In the 19th century, steam power demanded new skills while in the 20th century, electric and diesel trains also demanded new skills for the time. By the 21st century, railways and the jobs needed to operate them had changed dramatically.

Skills needed to build the first railways:

Surveyors travelled through the forests to mark a “trial line” or route for the railway.

Grading Gangs
followed the trial line created by the surveyors.

Measuring Gangs
calculated distances using chains.

Transit Crews
used a “transit” to calculate distances on curves or across hills.

Levelling Gangs
calculated the height above sea level along the route.

drew maps about the surrounding countryside (swamps, soils, rivers, mountains).

dig the roadbed. Canals were dug and the men who built them were called navigators or navvies. Railways cannot curve or climb hills like roads (because of the lack of friction between metal wheels and rails, and heavier loads). Major earthworks (cuttings and embankments) are needed for railways. Thousands were employed to dig the early railways with picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and horses.

Track Layers
placed the wooden timbers on the roadbed then hammered metal spikes to hold the steel rails laid on the wood.

Bridge Gangs
built many different types of bridges. Brick layers, stone masons, and metal riveters were highly paid.