Remnants of the Dartmouth Sub

At one time, rails reached Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. They ran over a pretty circuitous route from Windsor Junction to Dartmouth, through Shearwater, Lawrencetown, Three Fathom Harbour, Petain, Chezzetcook, and into Musquodoboit and even a little beyond. This timetable from June 1, 1919 shows a lot of stations that don’t exist on a map today.

CN railway timetable from June 1, 1919
CN railway timetable from June 1, 1919

Back in 1919 there was a twice weekly passenger train, and a mixed train for the other days – except Sunday, of course, can’t travel on a Sunday…

When I lived in Shearwater, between 1979 and 1982, the tracks still ran to Upper Musquodoboit, and there was still a scheduled freight train on the subdivision – between Windsor Junction and Dartmouth. There were far fewer stations listed!

CN railway timetable from 1980

By 1985 the subdivision only ran to mile 18.5, just past the former Texaco refinery, later owned by Ultramar. This image from 1963 shows the Texaco refinery (and Fairey Aviation). The refinery closed in 1997 and operated for fuel storage until 2017.

“Imperoyal” is/was the Imperial Oil refinery, which was later purchased by Irving Oil and shut down.

CN railway timetable from June 1 1985

The subdivision extended to the Ultramar refinery in the timetables through 1992, but it’s shortened in the 2005 timetable (below). Based on my own investigation (below) the rails were removed before 2002.

CN Dartmouth subdivision, January 1 2005

On a rainy morning in October 2002, I drove out to Shearwater to visit my old stomping ground. While I was there, I took a few photographs of the former Dartmouth subdivision with my 1 megapixel Sony DCR-TRV25 video camera.

View of a former railway track
Howard Avenue crossing

The photo above was taken at Howard Avenue. The crossing signs were still there, and rails were still in the pavement, although the tracks on either side had been removed. This was mile 17.34 according to the lettering on the back of the crossbucks.

Railway crossing in the rain
Looking southwest down Howard Avenue

I drove a few streets west to Hines Road. The railway crossed Hines Road in two places:

  1. here, on its way to Musqudoboit, and
  2. farther south, to the Autoport, which is now the end of the subdivision.
Hines Road crossing

In 2002 you could still see where the two tracks diverged. The photo below was taken here, just northwest of the school, facing southeast. The long ties in the background and the two long ties in the foreground (for the vanished switchstand) show where the track diverged to go to Musqudoboit.

When I walked to school, I usually walked these tracks, taking the left branch to the Swordfish Drive crossing and then into the school parking lot. Sometimes there’d be a train here so I would take a different route. I was not a railfan then so I didn’t care about the trains at all, except when they were in the way.

The photo below shows the CN overpass over highway 322. Not much has changed in this scene as far as I know.

CN overpass over Route 322

2 thoughts on “Remnants of the Dartmouth Sub”

  1. There was a museum at Musqudoboit Harbour when I lived there in the early 1990’s. No idea if its still going. I honestly don’t remember seeing many trains on the Dartmouth side of the harbour when I lived there, but I was still at a point where my ability to independently move around was limited by age and not having a drivers license yet!


    • I think the museum is still there – recently refurbished too, I believe!

      When I was living there I got around with a bicycle. I biked into Halifax a few times – to Dartmouth and then taking the ferry across. I had to visit the local gaming stores!

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