EN CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY

Prior to the First World War, railway expansion was increasing at a phenomenal rate, and two of the railways, the Grand Trunk Pacific and the National Transcontinental wanted to build a second line across Canada. Executives of the Grand Trunk Pacific, operating the National Transcontinental Railway, began to look for a site on which to build large railway shops.

Speculating a suitable location in late 1906,

a real estate developer from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, John Henry Kearn, began purchasing and consolidating rural farmland seven miles east of Winnipeg. The location was in close proximity to the City of Winnipeg labour force, yet far enough from Winnipeg to

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ensure reasonable land prices. Within a short period of time, Kearn had assembled enough land to provide an ideal location to provide enough space for a massive railway shop complex adjacent to a town site. In 1907,

the Dominion Government and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway purchased 324 hectares or 800 acres of land east of Winnipeg for this development. By late 1908, tentative plans were created, tenders for construction requested, and press releases describing the complex were issued.

In the spring of 1909, tenders were awarded to Harvey, Quinlan and Robinson, for the building construction; the J. McDiarmid Co. to erect the coal chute, and the J .D. McArther Company for laying tracks and levelling the yard. Work on the railway shop complex commenced in June 1909. Accounts of the construction appeared weekly in Winnipeg newspapers, as well as in engineering and transportation journals.

The one and a half sections of land on which the Transcona Shops were to be built, was mostly swamp land, a part of a natural water course, running from the municipality of Tache, northwest of the Red River. Drainage

ditches had to be dug and hundreds of railway carloads of gravel had to be hauled from the Vivian Pit. Gravel was spread to a depth of three to four feet to raise the floor level of the area occupied by building and railway tracks, thus avoiding any trouble from flooding, as the level was raised above the existing prairie.

Excavation of the land was undertaken by sheer manpower with the assistance of mules. Hundreds of men and animals worked tirelessly to clear the land, which at times became wet and spongy. This flat, treeless land soon was covered with tents, the homes of the construction gangs, as well as shacks and some permanent homes.

Construction of the railway shops began in 1909, at a cost of $6,000,000 and when completed would have the capacity to employ 5,000 men. With the commencement of the construction of the shops, a large workforce was needed and workmen came from all

over Canada, across the U.S., Great Britain and Europe.

With this large influx of workers, the first thing at hand was to find a suitable name for the community. The one that was chosen