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Industry Achievement
Transcona, Manitoba (2003)
The gate to CN's Transcona Shops in Winnipeg, MBTranscona, Manitoba — on the eastern outskirts of Winnipeg — received its name from the National Transcontinental Railway. The NTR was conceived by the Grand Trunk Railway as a means of achieving its transcontinental aspirations and to compete with its primary rival, the Canadian Pacific Railway. The robust economic boom of the early 1900s provided fertile ground for the project.

For construction purposes the line was divided into the eastern division (the NTR) and the western one, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Each of these divisions commenced from Winnipeg. Being virtually equidistant from the NTR/GTP’s respective coastal termini, Transcona was developed as the company’s principal repair shops.

TransconaIn 1908, a 610 000-square-metre parcel on the open prairie — 10 kilometres east of Winnipeg — was selected as the site of Transcona. Construction of the extensive works commenced the following year. But it was much more than just a maintenance facility; it was also a railway community. The adjoining town site provided housing, services and recreation for the workers.

It was not until the formation into the Canadian National Railways in 1920 that Transcona began to hit its stride, becoming the main repair shops for the CNR’s western lines. Countless locomotives and rolling stock were repaired at Transcona. Indeed, an entire class of CNR steam locomotives was constructed here, constituting the only such locomotives built in their entirety in western Canada.

Dieselization — the conversion from steam to diesel-electric motive power — brought many changes to Canadian railways took a heavy toll on Transcona. But it was a brief pause as by the 1960s and 1970s the Transcona facilities were completely modernized. With the closure of the Moncton Shops, Transcona became the principal shop on the CN system.

Thanks to its strategic location at the crossroads of Canada, Transcona continues to be an essential component of CN’s modern railway system.

Photo: CN

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