3 The La Riviere Subdivision Morden Mile 78 to Manitou Mile 100

© Text and Photos exclusive copyright of N. Froese, Author.

I am still grateful to my parents who gifted me with an American Flyer train set for Christmas in 1955. The sound and smoke of the locomotive, may well have been the spark that as a boy of 10 years, started for me, this interest in trains.
A.C. Gilbert Co. in the United States which was the manufacturer of my first American Flyer toy train produced very few models, if any of Canadian Pacific, however in my mind, the connection between my toy and the real train was significant.
Then, as a teen, I lost my interest in trains. Instead, education, career, and life partnership became just a few of many other priorities.
Subsequently, in the train world, little happened until many years hence, after a teaching career and nearing retirement in the 1990’s, I decided to focus more on prototypical railway history and modeling. The prototype railway of most interest to me was the LaRiviere/Napinka Subdivisions of the Canadian Pacific Railway in southern Manitoba, some portions of which are still active at the time of this writing in 2013/14.
My plan is to continue to research and model sections of this rail line because of its interesting history, scenic views, and my familiarity with this prairie branch line.
At the present, I am living in Ontario, a different part of Canada, so modeling this rail line has given me a chance to connect with some of my prairie past and practice some of the many skills that are required for the hobby of railway modeling.
Pierre Burton’s classic narrative, “The Last Spike”, “Nickolas Morant’s Canadian Pacific” by J.F. Garden, Joe Smuin’s “Kettle Valley Railway Mileboards” and “Canadian Pacific’s Kettle Valley Railway”, Greg McDonnell’s “Canadian Pacific Stand Fast Craigellachie!”, and L.A. Stuckey’s two volumes of “Canadian Pacific in Manitoba” are some of the outstanding books full of information which have queued my interest and inspired me to contribute my own local experience to Canada’s railway history.
My contribution is in the form of pictures with comments, – “a snapshot in time”, mostly from the 1980’s to 2012. Pictures are one key to remembering and to good railway modeling.
The CPR line from Winnipeg (Rugby Yard) to Manitou was constructed by C.P. in 1881/’82, and put into operation on Dec.10, 1882. The section west from Manitou to La Riviere was activated on January 3, 1886. (C.P. files) Until abandonment of miles 81 to 111 in 2008, this complete line was known as the C.P.R. La Riviere Subdivision.
The Napinka Subdivision from La Riviere (mile 0), to Napinka (mile 108.48) was constructed by the Manitoba South-Western Colonization Railway Company Ltd. in 1884-1885, and leased in perpetuity to Canadian Pacific Railway on June 1,1884. This line was put into operation between La Riviere and Boissevain on January 3, 1886, between Boissevain and Deloraine November 7, 1886, and between Deloraine and Napinka on August 1, 1892. (C.P. files) This complete Subdivision was known as the C.P.R. Napinka Subdivision until the salvage of miles 0, La Riviere, to mile 48, just east of Killarney in 2008. The total section of track of both the La Riviere and Napinka sub-divisions for discontinuance/for sale by CPR in 2005 was 79.7 miles.

It was this section of rail running through the prairie towns and the scenic Pembina River valley, where I spent my growing up years, as well as a significant portion of my adult life, and therefore, stems my interest in the history and modeling portions of the rail line.
Living in Ontario, It came as quite a surprise to me when notice was given by CPR that this particular section of the rail line was to be discontinued and was up for sale. (September 29th, 2006, The Winnipeg Free Press, p. B5.)
Efforts were made by communities along the line for rail line retention, however not all municipalities could agree to a unified proposal, and therefore appropriate funding for purchase of the total 79.7 miles from CPR was not achieved.
In June, 2009, “The Boundary Trail Railway Company Inc.”, Manitoba’s first producer owned short line railway was established by  interested investors, and the eastern 23 miles of the rail line intended for abandonment (miles 81 to 103), were retained for Producer Grain Car shipments in May, 2009. The remainder of the line west of Binney – mile 104 to mile 111 La Riviere Yard, and mile 0 La Riviere Yard to mile 48 east of Killarney on the Napinka Sub., was salvaged and the line right of way was later sold to private interests. The scenario of permanently losing part of a rail line infrastructure with much historical and long term economic value was unfolding, step by step.
What was left to do?, – but take pictures of what once was. – To preserve some railway history in the form of pictures, – “La Riviere/Napinka Mile Signs – A Snapshot In Time” from the 1980’s to 2012.
Neil Froese Aylmer, ON (formerly Cartwright, MB), 2012/02/27


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