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Katrime Freight and Passenger Shelter (1919)

Katrime Freight and Passenger Shelter

This small railway station was originally located at Katrime, Manitoba which was on the CNR rail line from Portage to Gladstone. This rail line was built in 1910 as joint effort between the Canadian Northern Pacific (CNoP) railway and the Northern Pacific and Manitoba (NPM) railway. CNoP built the Katrime station in 1919. In 1923 the CNoP was absorbed by the Canadian National Railways.

The Katrime station is an example of the CNoP’s Standard Freight and Passenger Shelter, plan 100-41. Some alterations have occurred over the years, most notably the removal of a window in the freight end of the building.

By the 1960s railway operations had changed significantly and Canadian railways were disposing of rural stations. Katrime was no exception however instead of demolition the station went on to a second life as a railway tool shed. With rationalization of railway maintenance, the CNR decided it had no need of a tool shed at Katrime. The building was sold and moved to a farm near MacGregor. In 2002, the owners had no further use for the building and offered it to the Museum. It was moved to the Museum and rebuilt to the appearance it had when it was last used at Katrime as a Freight and Passenger Shelter.

These small stations are often known as “portables” as they were deliberately designed to be easily moved. Portables were used by all Canadian railways, often in the construction phase of a rail line. They were set up at sites identified by the railway as potential town sites and served as a station until the line was completed and a permanent station could be built. Railways concentrated on completing the track and usually left the construction of permanent buildings, such as stations, until later. If the railway was not sure whether the prospects of the site warranted a permanent station, then the portable would be left in place until the prospects for the site became clear. At some locations business did not materialize and the stations were moved elsewhere. In other locations, such as Katrime, low levels of business warranted only a portable station over the life of the location. Often there was no station agent at portable stations. People using the station set out flags to alert train crews that there were passengers and / or freight waiting at the station for pickup. Fares were collected and billing paper work was completed by the train conductor.

In total, the CNoP erected at least 343 plan 100-41 stations between 1910 and 1923 when the CNoP was formally rolled into the Canadian National Railways. CNoP used a different design of Freight and Passenger Shelter stations before 1910 and so the total number of the portable stations built by the CNoP is far higher than 343.

The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway got its start when a railway construction contractor by the name of Donald Mann was looking for work in the early 1890s. He became interested in a charter for a railway, the Lake Manitoba Railway and Canal. This railway was meant to connect Lake Manitoba to Portage La Prairie. Then a water connection could be made to Prince Alberta via the Lake and the Saskatchewan River. After various negotiations including exploring the idea of building a rail line to Hudson Bay to export grain, what emerged was a railway from Gladstone to Dauphin. Mann by this time had acquired a partner, William McKenzie and they formed the CNoP. To connect Gladstone with Winnipeg, the partners arranged running rights on the Manitoba and Northwestern Railway (MNW) which ran from Portage to Minnedosa and beyond. However the MNW was not profitable and was sold to the CPR in 1900. This line became the foundation for CPR’s Portage to Edmonton route.

The CNoP decided it needed it’s own connection with Portage and struck an arrangement with the NPM to build the line. CNoP built a line from Gladstone to Beaver, Manitoba in 1901. The NPM built a line from Portage to Beaver where the two lines connected. Later in 1901, NPM was sold to the CNoP and the entire Gladstone to Portage line became CNoP property.

Just exactly why the NPM agreed to build the Beaver to Portage line is more understandable when one realizes that the NPM was in the hands of the Manitoba government at the time as the Northern Pacific Railway (NP), a parent of the NPM wanted out of the NPM as it was a money losing operation. NP turned over its interest in the NPM to the Manitoba government in 1900. The government had no real interest in operating railways but the people of Manitoba were demanding more branch lines and cheaper freight rates. CNoP was able to do both. Probably the government was willing to build the Beaver to Portage segment as they wanted to encourage the CNoP and in any event the government knew it would soon be selling the line to the CNoP anyways.

CNoP purchased the ex-Northern Pacific and Manitoba railway from the Manitoba government and combined these lines with the Portage to Dauphin line and the rail line they had built running to the southeast of Winnipeg. They went on to purchase a rail line in Saskatchewan running from Regina to Price Albert plus built more branch lines and a line to from Winnipeg to Fort William on Lake Superior. The CNoP with its significant rail network on the prairies played a very large part in facilitating the agricultural development of Manitoba and the prairies through provision of transportation services.

However, the company realized that it was at the mercy of the CPR as the CNoP depended on the CPR to access the ports and markets of Eastern Canada and the Port of Vancouver. The CNoP then determined to build into Eastern Canada and to Vancouver. Both of these destinations involved expensive construction in crossing Northern Ontario and the Rocky Mountains. Both these areas also generated little traffic to help pay the expense of these lines. To make financial matters worse just as the CNoP lines were being completed to the east and west, World War One had broken out and interest rates climbed significantly. Mann and McKenzie had financed the CNoP using borrowed money largely and rising interest rates were a very heavy blow. As some of the CNoP’s commerical loans were secured by Government of Canada guarantees and the government had also taken CNoP stock as guarantee on government loans to CNoP, the Government of Canada was very concerned with the financial position of CNoP.

The Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP) Railway was also experiencing significant financial problems as well. In 1917, the Government of Canada decided nationalization of both railways was the only possible option and took over both. In nationalizing the GTP, the Government also decided GTPs parent, the Grand Trunk (GT) railway, also had to be nationalized. The legal and financial arrangements took some time however by 1923 the Canadian National Railway had emerged.

It is interesting to note that Mann and MacKenzie had a substantial investment in the Western Canadian Flour Mills Company which orginally built the elevator now on the Museum grounds.

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