The City     The Searchers     The Great Escape     Being There
The Great Escape: Introduction
As the ill effects and social problems of Canada’s industrialized cities became apparent to an increasing number of people, many citizens sought relief through various forms of outdoor recreation.

Although the construction of the railway had, in many ways, facilitated the creation of the modern industrial city, it was also the means by which citizens made their escape. The highway to Algonquin Park was not constructed until 1936, so until that date, the railway was the only means, aside from canoe, by which people could reach the Park.

Exploiting the growing wilderness recreation movement, railway companies actively promoted rural and wilderness destinations, and even constructed lodges or resort hotels in many locations, helping to stimulate the modern tourist industry in Canada.

The Railway – Economics and Opportunity
Canada’s railway companies completed their lines across the country during the nineteenth century, and they played a significant role in Canada’s economic development. But the Canadian railways crossed vast spans of unsettled territory, and the operators soon realized that, by exploiting the growing market for wilderness tourism, they could maximize their profits for passenger service.

The establishment of Algonquin Park as a wildlife and forest reserve in 1893 is linked to the railway, which began construction in the Park in 1894. It was recognized that accessibility would also mean settlement, and Algonquin Park was established, in part, to protect its watersheds from the detrimental effects of settlement.
Sir William Van Horne, General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway
(Library and Archives Canada, PA-182603)

"Since we can’t export the scenery, we shall have to import the tourists."

Sir William Van Horne (actor's representation)
General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Sir William Van Horne, General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway (Photo Detail)
(Library and Archives Canada, PA-182603)
The Grand Trunk Railway, incorporated in 1852, grew throughout the century, buying up other railway companies in Canada and the United States. In 1905, the Grand Trunk purchased the railroad that ran through Algonquin Park, then owned by the Canada Atlantic Railway. The continued expansion of the Grand Trunk Railway, among other factors, helped to force the company into bankruptcy in 1919. In 1923, it was amalgamated into the Canadian National Railways (CNR).
Grand Trunk Railway historic map, c. 1900
Both the Grand Trunk Railway and, later, the CNR actively promoted travel to wilderness destinations within Canada. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, rail was the only means by which many of these places could be reached by vacationers.

Algonquin Park, as well as the Muskokas, were actively promoted as fishing and boating destinations by the railways.
Brochure cover, Grand Trunk “Playgrounds of Canada,” 1912 (CSTM/Trade Literature Collection, L25066)
Grand Trunk advertisement for Algonquin Park [n.d.]
CNR Algonquin Park brochure cover, 1932 (CSTM/Trade Literature Collection, L 30429)
CNR Ontario brochure, 1929 (CSTM/CN Trade Literature Collection, L37445)
Also associated with the growing interest in outdoor recreation is the popularity of pleasure boating. In the nineteenth century, enjoying Canada’s waters by canoe or row boat became a favourite pastime for many, and the trend continues to today.
Canoe mould for construction of Herald’s Patent Cedar Canoe (patented in 1871) (CSTM/Daniel Herald Rice Lake Collection, 1994.0387)
Davy Nichol rowing skiff, c. 1925
(CSTM Collection, 1980.0368)
Peterborough Comfort Craft “Girling Canoe,” c. 1904
This canoe included two cabinets, one for a phonograph and one for records.
(Canadian Canoe Museum, Andrews family collection, photographer: Michael Cullen)
In the early twentieth century, the railway’s promotion of travel to wilderness destinations was extended to the building of hotels or lodges. In Algonquin Park, the CNR operated three lodges: the Highland Inn, Camp Minnesing, and Nominigan Lodge. Elsewhere in Ontario, the CNR later developed Nipigon Lodge (in Orient Bay) and Minaki Lodge (in northwestern Ontario).
Highland Inn, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
The Highland Inn, opened in 1908, was a luxury wilderness resort replete with indoor washrooms, hot and cold running water, fine dining and dancing.

In 1913, Camp Minnesing and Nominigan Camp were opened. These more rustic resorts were affiliated with the Highland Inn, and were developed for vacationers who desired a more rugged holiday.
Camp Minnesing (resort), from an Algonquin Park brochure, 1924
(Algonquin Park Archives)
Nominigan Camp (resort), Algonquin Park [n.d.]
Fishing party at Nominigan Camp, Algonquin Park [n.d.]
The CNR also operated Nipigon Lodge - a fishing retreat in Orient Bay, Ontario.
Nipigon Lodge (resort), Orient Bay, Ontario [n.d.]
The Grand Trunk Railway built the first Minaki Inn in Minaki, Ontario, in 1914. The larger Minaki Lodge was opened by the CNR in 1927.
Minaki Lodge, Minaki, Ontario, c. 1940
A bedroom at Minaki Lodge, Minaki, Ontario [n.d.]
The establishment of wilderness resorts and lodges by the railway companies extended across Canada. The CNR also operated Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta (opened by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1915), and Pictou Lodge in Nova Scotia (opened in 1926)
Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper, Alberta [n.d.]
Pictou Lodge, Pictou, Nova Scotia [n.d.]
External Links

The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada (Library and Archives Canada) - A brief history of the Grand Trunk Railway Company

Canada, by Train (Library and Archives Canada) - A brief history of the railways in Canada and how they marketed their services. Includes some images of the National Library’s collection of railway advertising.

The Canadian Canoe Museum
Getting There
Before the Second World War, going to a wilderness destination almost always involved travel by train. In fact, a trip on the rails was the only way to reach Algonquin Park until Highway 60 was built in 1936.

It was a long day of travel to reach Algonquin Park from Toronto, nearly ten hours in 1915, but the experience was an integral and exciting part of the vacation.
Extrait vidéo (dans la version flash)
Making the trip from Toronto to Algonquin Park involved careful planning and a trip by train.
Film excerpt: Algonquin Park, 1930
(Library and Archives Canada, VI 2006-09-0004)
An interior view of the Grand Trunk Railways Toronto ticket office, Toronto [n.d.]
The cost of a trip to Algonquin Park from Toronto in 1915 was $1.00 for a seat, or $1.25 to $1.50 for a sleeper car. At that time, the average wage for a labourer in Toronto was $0.30 an hour.
Grand Trunk rates from Toronto to Algonquin Park, 1915
(CSTM/Trade Literature Collection, L4415)
Grand Trunk schedule, Toronto to Algonquin Park, 1915
(CSTM/Trade Literature Collection, L4415)
Although stops along the way to Algonquin Park were frequent, the city was quickly left behind, enhancing the sense of escape. The train went north from Toronto, and passengers transferred at Scotia Junction to the eastbound train headed for Algonquin Park.
View of Grand Trunk Station, Allandale, Ontario (about two and a half hours past Toronto, on the way to Algonquin Park), 1915
Barrie Station (about five minutes past Allandale), Barrie, Ontario [n.d.]
Orillia Station (about one hour and forty minutes past Barrie), Orillia, Ontario, 1927
"I loved that train ride. The tracks headed north through beautiful hardwood forests, along sparkling rivers and beside lakes of various shapes and sizes. There were marshes teeming with the activity of birds and animals and large outcroppings of the Canadian Shield granite. How exhilarating it was to see this beautiful, natural landscape and realize we were leaving civilization and all of its trappings behind. I felt like I was escaping from my duties and responsibilities and the expectations that others had for me. Here was freedom and independence in its purest form."

Esther Keyser (actor's representation)
From Paddling My Own Canoe, Whitney, Ontario: The Friends of Algonquin Park, 2003, p. 60.
Extrait audio (dans la version flash)
Esther Keyser on the steps of Northway Lodge (Photo Detail)
(Friends of Algonquin Park)
“New Station, Scotia Junction,” June 1917
(Library and Archives Canada, NMC 16480)
Enjoying a comfortable ride in a radio-equipped observation car, 1924
Interior of a new lounge car, 1930
First-class coach, May 1924
“Plan of Proposed New Station for Algonquin Park,” December 1907
(Library and Archives Canada, NMC 16482)
Arrival at the Highland Inn by train [n.d.]