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George A. Cox Archives Amalgamation

George A. Cox Achives Amalgamation

In 1878, there were four independent railway companies operating in Victoria county. Within the space of three short years, one man succeeded in promoting their consolidation into a single system.

This man was George A. Cox, a Peterborough insurance agent, who became president of the Midland Railway in the fall of 1878.

By July 1, 1879, he had made an arrangement between the Midland Railway and the Whitby-Lindsay Railway, by which the two roads pooled their resources and divided their gross earnings in the ratio of 79 to 21. In June 1881, a syndicate, headed by the Hon. D. A. McInnis, and John Proctor, of Hamilton, bought up a controlling interest in the Victoria Railway, and George Laidlaw retired. Cox now became active again. He purchased the Toronto and Nipissing Railway in July, 1881, and succeeded by November 1881 in engineering a merger of the Midland, Whitby-Lindsay, Victoria and Toronto and Nipissing railways. The consolidated lines were to be known as the Midland Railway of Canada. The first train from Peterborough to Toronto, via Millbrook and Lorneville, passed over the new system on December 15, 1881, with a running time of three hours.

The sequel to this amalgamation came on January 1, 1884, when the Grand Trunk Railway leased the Midland Railway and Cox with drew from railway affairs. It then transpired that the Grand Trunk already had a controlling interest of $4,316,920 in the Midland Railway capitalization of $6,600,000. Here were the backers for whom the versatile Cox had done his work so well and from whom, no doubt, he received suitable recognition. The Midland Railway was finally consolidated with the Grand Trunk by Act of Parliament in 1893.

As part of the consolidation of 1881, plans were laid for building short lines between Wick on the T. & N. R. and Manilla on the Whitby-Lindsay line and between Peterborough and Omemee, and for the construction of a new bridge and station at Lindsay.

The Wick-Manilla line was seven miles in length and ran from Wick Junction, a mile north of Wick Station, to Manilla Junction, a third of a mile north of Manilla Station (now Cresswell.) The contract here was let in 1882 to George Wheeler, M.P. In July 1883, Wick station and Manilla station were abolished and the name "Wick Junction" were changed to "Blackwater Junction."

The Omemee-Peterborough line, known popularly as the "Missing Link," was begun in February 1882 under the contractorship of J. H. Beemer. The heaviest work lay in the bridging of two wide deep valleys at "Tully's" and "Doube's." The former required a trestle 700 feet long and 40 feet high, and the latter a trestle 1500 feet long and 70 feet high. Most of this trestle work has since been filled in with ballast. On July 2, 1883, a small battle, involving stilettos and revolvers, took place at Sherin's Cut, two miles east of Omemee, between some Italians who had struck over an illegal reduction of wages and some Irish-Canadians who had kept on working. Many were wounded but none killed. The first train over the "Missing Link" was run on November 23, 1883, five days after standard time had been first adopted by the railways of Canada.

At Lindsay, a new entry, by means of a high level bridge just south of the line of Durham Street, was decided on. The steel super structure was supplied by the Hamilton Bridge Works and consisted of a center span, 84 feet long, and two end spans, each 44 feet long. The supporting piers of solid masonry, 47 feet in height, were built by Messrs. McNeely and Walters, of Lindsay. This bridge was replaced in 1901 by a through girder bridge. The old swing bridge across the Scugog at the head of Lindsay Street North was abolished and its center pier removed from the river in May 1887 by Capt. George Crandell.

The old East Ward station was also discarded and a new station site chosen just south of Durham Street at William Street. The first new station, a diminutive structure, 27 feet by 60 feet, was built in September 1883 and burnt down on January 8, 1885. The present building was erected on the same site in October 1890.

During the eighties it was decided to make Lindsay the divisional point (as it is today) for the whole Midland system. The locomotive works which had formerly been located in Port Hope were therefore transferred to Lindsay. The first sod for the new buildings was turned by H. J .Rainsford on July 18, 1887.

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