Canadian National Railway #1158 is a fairly workaday engine most at home on branchlines or in local service None the less she and her many sisters played a very important role and they could be seen up and down the entire CNR system working hard every day, doing the mundane tasks they were designed for. This engine celebrates her 100th birthday in 2013.
This post takes us back to the summer of 1998 and this engine was seen at the Western Development Museum in North Battleford Saskatchewan. It’s a fascinating place (We LOVE museums) with lots of displays and artifacts but for this post we’ll just concentrate only on this locomotive.
Built by the Montreal Locomotive Works, this engine was one of fifty “G-16-a” class constructed during the years 1912-1913 (1158 was built in April 1913). They were built for Canadian National Railways predecessor The Canadian Northern*. Engines from this series were all small and simple, perfectly suited for the light duty jobs assigned them.
In the railway vernacular, they were known as a “Ten Wheeler”, so named for the total number of wheels it had. There were four guide wheels and six drivers – this layout made them very tolerant of rough track conditions like those found on prairie branchlines. In the Whyte notation the engine was a 4-6-0. She burned coal and was hand fired.
It’s very hard to trace the work history of an individual locomotive as they tended to move around a lot. However, this author has seen pictures of this engine at work on the CNR’s branch on Vancouver Island in the 1950s. While it is possible it also worked in the North Battleford area, that can’t be confirmed with any certainty. Even if it didn’t though others of this class most likely did. There were a lot of lightly built grain gathering branch lines in the area (not many remain) to keep an engine like this busy.
The 1158 has been on site here at the museum since 1960. Most of this class lasted into the mid to late 1950s before being retired. The railway got good use of them!
After retirement it’s not clear if any other engines reused this number. I can find evidence of a 1156 and 1159 but not one using 1158. This locomotive is one of two of her class preserved and sister 1112 is on displayed at Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario in Smiths Falls.
I’ve seen recent pictures of 1158 and she’s looking a little rough now. A new coat of paint seems to be in order.
The grain elevator seen in the one picture was moved here from Keatley Saskatchewan which is northeast of North Battleford. The elevator, marked for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, was built in 1928 and put on display at the museum in the early 1980s. It, plus the train display and the station and telegraph lines are all a wonderful representation of a very typical prairie scene from the past.
I’ve include a picture showing the bowels of a steam traction engine also seen at the same museum. What’s interesting is that what you see is very close to how 1158 would be laid out. These old steam tractors were essentially small locomotives on wheels (a very simplified comparison I know).
North Battleford is a modest sized town north west of Saskatoon and it sits along the CNR’s secondary line between the aforementioned town and Edmonton Alberta.
* A brief history of the CNR. Canadian Northern Railways merged with the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Government railways forming the CNR. This took place in the early 1920s and at that time all the lines mentioned were basically bankrupt and would have likely failed had it not been for the Government’s intervention. The CNR remained a crown corporation until it was privatized in the mid 1990s.
These pictures were scanned from 35mm prints.
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Date: August, 1998.
Location: Western Development Museum, North Battleford SK.