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By T. Britt General Fuel Agent
Canadian Pacific 1267 coals at Ottawa West - Circa 1959 Al Barr - Bruce Chapman Collection.
 Internal link   Introduction

        Many years ago Canadian Pacific published a series of ten books named the "Foundation Library". One particular book in this collection, published in 1937, is named "Factors in Railway and Steamship Operation". It contains many short stories and articles dealing with the company during that period. This month's article from that book, "Fuel for the Canadian Pacific", written by T. Britt, General Fuel Agent, is reprinted here for your enlightenment with the addition of some appropriate images.

 Internal link   The 1937 Article

      As a preliminary, a few words about the early status of the Fuel Department may not be out of place. In the first days of the Company's organization, the Fuel Department was attached to the Stores under the jurisdiction of the General Storekeeper, at that time the late W.H. Kelson, the purchasing being done by the General Purchasing Agent, part of the time the late Lord Shaughnessy and afterwards the late A.C. Henry. In June, 1892, it was taken from the Stores and attached to the Car Service Department, first under the late James Osborne and later under Colonel G.S. Cantlie. During this period the purchasing of the fuel was also done by the General Purchasing Agent, the late A.C. Henry. It was not until November, 1899, that the present General Fuel Department was organized and placed under the jurisdiction of Mr. A.D. MacTier as General Fuel Agent, and it so continued until June, 1907, when I was appointed to succeed Mr. MacTier, who had been promoted to be Assistant to the Vice-President.

      The General Fuel Department, since its organization as such, controls the purchasing, distribution, handling, and accounting for the fuel supply of the Company and its subsidiaries. These purchases include bituminous coal and lighting-up material for locomotives, shops, hard coal, low volatile smokeless coal, coke, cordwood, and charcoal for stations, tanks, coaches, hotels, etc.

      The Fuel Department of the Canadian Pacific Railway is unique among railroads inasmuch as the fuel is under its control from point of origin until used. By this I mean that, in addition to purchasing, the Department also arranges for transportation and handling, all coal docks, and practically all coaling stations being operated through this Office. The necessary accounting in connection with the operation is also handled by us, so that the coal, from the time it is loaded at the mines until placed on tenders, is under the control or supervision of one Department.

      Wherever possible and economical (and sometimes in other cases) preference is given to the purchase of Canadian fuel.

      Next follow particulars of the locomotive fuel used on the various districts:

 Internal link   New Brunswick

      Coal for branch line engines is secured from the Minto Field, located on our own rails.

In 1915 the Dominion Coal Company was a major Canadian coal operator producing 42 percent of the coal output from Canada, and 75 percent of the output from Nova Scotia.
Read more here...
 Internal link   Nova Scotia

The Canadian portion of the main line is served with Dominion coal shipped by water from Sydney, unloaded on the east side into barges, transferred to the west side, and unloaded into cars on our rails at a price on cars at West Saint John, New Brunswick. That part of the main line in the State of Maine is served with American coal, routed into Canada via Delson Junction.

 Internal link   Quebec

      In the summer time, when climatic conditions are favourable, Dominion coal which is transported by water via the St. Lawrence to Quebec, Trois-Rivieres, and Montreal, is used on that part of the Quebec District extending from Megantic, west to Montreal, and Montreal, east to Quebec, with the exception of our lines in Vermont, which are supplied with American coal routed into Canada via Delson Junction, and also with the exception of our Glen Yard passenger trains, which are supplied with high grade American coal. During the winter season, when operating conditions are more severe, American coal is used on the entire district, with the exception of Quebec and Trois-Rivieres, where Dominion coal is used exclusively during the twelve months. West of Montreal, the American coal used is transported during the season of navigation by rail to a loading port on Lake Ontario, thence moved by self-unloading steamer to Prescott, where it is delivered loaded on cars. During the winter season, the coal is moved all by rail, being delivered to us either at Prescott, Adirondack Junction, or Delson, whichever route is found most economical.

 Internal link   Ontario

      American coal, taken from the Cambridge Collieries of Cambridge, Ohio, (in which company we have a heavy financial interest) is used. This coal reaches us during the summer season by rail to Ashtabula Harbor and Car Ferry to Port Burwell. (In this Car Ferry, our Company has a 50 percent financial interest.) During the winter season, when the ferry is laid up, the Windsor gateway is used. I might add that the latter gateway is also used during the summer season for Windsor and Chatham supply.

 Internal link   Algoma

      This territory is served with Cambridge coal, transported by rail to a loading port on Lake Erie and thence by bulk freighter to Little Current, Britt, or Jack Fish docks as is found most suitable for our distribution. This coal is necessarily all received during the season of navigation and that portion required for winter use is stored on our premises and loaded out during the winter months.

      The photos below show the coaling facilities at Jack Fish. Click on each to enlarge the photograph:

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 Internal link   Western Lines

      This territory uses practically all Western Canadian coal, with the exception of a limited quantity of American coal put over Fort William Dock for use at Fort William and Raith. At one time we put nearly a million tons of American coal annually over this dock to take care of the territory west of Fort William, but this has been gradually narrowed down to from 60,000 to 100,000 tons annually, being replaced by Canadian coal from various Western collieries, the purchase of which is arranged in Winnipeg.

 Internal link   All Lines

      At one time a very large quantity of American hard coal was purchased, this being used exclusively at stations, etc., but in later years its use has been restricted to baker heaters and dining cars, being replaced for station use by coke, purchased exclusively in Canada, low volatile, smokeless bituminous coal, and by wood, purchased locally, the latter being used in the late spring and early fall when a minimum heat is required. The elimination of hard coal has resulted in a considerable saving.

      At one time it was the custom, and still is with some railroads, to maintain a big organization of coal inspectors. On the other hand, we operate with one inspector in the Minto Field, one man to supervise our operations on the New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario Districts, and another to look after operations, including coal docks, on the Algoma District. It was considered, after having satisfied ourselves that the mine, or mines, had coal suitable for our requirements and adequate facilities for preparation, that it was the duty of the operator or vendor to ship a grade of coal satisfactory to our needs and the inspection is now done at our coal-unloading plants, the foreman in charge being held responsible to inspect and report on every car of coal handled. These men have a better opportunity of inspecting the contents of the car than the inspectors at the mines, the majority of whom spend their time elsewhere than at the mine tipple or in the mine itself. Furthermore, I have always considered that the firebox tells the true story of the quality of the coal. Our system has proved very satisfactory and inexpensive.

      Outside of Canada, we have an office at Cleveland, Ohio, in charge of a man bearing the title of Assistant Fuel Agent. This man has been with us for thirty-four years and is an experienced mine inspector, having in the course of his career inspected coal for our Company all over the System, from Western Canada to the various mines in the Maritime Provinces. He is assisted by a younger man who serves as general assistant and understudy. Duties of the Assistant Fuel Agent and his assistant include inspection of mines from which we may be receiving American coal and mines from which we may contemplate buying, and they also inspect the loading of coal at the Lake Front. Our Cleveland Office also serves as a Lake Forwarding Agency, controlling the loading and forwarding not only of our own coal, but also of commercial coal destined to our docks. Our man attends the daily meeting of the Coal and Ore Exchange in Cleveland and is thereby made very familiar with the general Lake movement of all coal and boats loading and named to load at the Lake ports.

All commercial shippers putting coal over our docks arrange through this (Cleveland) Office suitable dates for the loading of their vessels, and in this way the commercial coal is handled concurrently with our own and without any congestion at our docks with consequent demurage and dissatisfaction. Being in touch daily with the vessel and coal shipping interests, our man is in a position to assist materially the patrons of our docks and his constant endeavour is to secure every pound of commercial coal possible for movement over our docks, and in order to do this he affords the shippers every facility, even at times securing boats for the transportation of their coal when they are unable to secure such accommodation for themselves. As a result of keeping in touch with the shippers and affording them every accommodation possible, we secure their goodwill.

      The movement of commercial coal affords us considerable revenue. During the past few years we have put annually from 150,000 to 300,000 tons of such coal over Britt Dock, from 70,000 to 90,000 tons over Prescott, and from 60,000 to 200,000 tons over Little Current. The tonnage available for Little Current Dock is not at the present time what it might be, as result of Canadian government intervention to assist in the use of Canadian coal in the territory principally served from Little Current. There is at the present time about 200,000 tons of Canadian coal shipped annually by rail from Montreal and Trois-Riviere the bulk of this would otherwise go over our Little Current Dock and move to destination over our rails, instead of being divided between ourselves and our competitors as it is at present.

      It has always been our aim to harmonize and dovetail with other departments to the benefit of the Company as a whole. In the purchase of our coal we endeavour to secure, at the lowest possible price, a grade suitable for the requirements of the Operating and Mechanical Departments, and I think we have been successful, at least, the complaints are rare. In so far as the Traffic Department is concerned, we have endeavoured to secure every possible ton of coal freight and in addition have, I think, materially assisted in securing passenger revenue by the constant solicitation of vessel owners for the transportation of their officers and crews to and from their homes, in cases where vessels are being laid up during the winter at other than their home ports.

      While statistical figures are, as a rule, not very interesting to the majority of people, yet I feel that the submission of the following, indicating the growth of the Department, may be of interest:

of fuel by locomotives
Avg. price per
ton on tender
925,000 tons
4,217,000 tons
4,000,000 tons
2,400,000 tons

The foregoing figures do not include locomotive fuel oil consumed on Western Lines, consumption of which was as follows:

Barrels of oil
838,713 barrels
950,419 barrels
788,719 barrels

      The comparative reduction in the consumption of coal in 1935 as compared with 1913 does not wholly represent a reduction in traffic. Greater efficiency in locomotives and better coal would account for at least 30 percent. The gradual increase in the price on tender does not actually represent increased cost of coal at the mines, but is largely accounted for by increased foreign railway transportation charges and duty. In 1913 duty on American coal was 53 cents per ton on coarse, and 14 cents per ton on slack, but in order to protect the Canadian coal operators, the duty was gradually increased until at the present it is 75 cents per ton plus about 7 cents excise, or a total of 82 cents per ton on both the coarse and the slack coal, there being now no distinction made in the two sizes. In other words, the duty, including excise, has increased 29 cents per ton on the coarse coal and 68 cents per ton on the slack.

 Internal link   Associated Web Sites

Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian Pacific Historical Association
History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia

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