Welcome to the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library.

This web site was designed by the late Ken Healy and Dave Venables. Content management is provided by Dave Venables; site hosting and maintenance is provided by Steve Watson of the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders.

(Last May 22nd, 2015)


The Library was established in 1994 to collect, preserve and make available to the public, materials that document the history of rail transportation in Canada. Materials focusing on the railways surrounding the Ottawa area are of particular interest. The materials comprise books, magazines, photographs, slides, plans, and archival materials of Ottawa area railway-related organisations. The objective is to provide a comprehensive research base for those seeking information about Canadian railways.


The Library is a federally-incorporated not-for-profit organization, registered as a charitable organization. The membership fee and donations to the Library are eligible for receipts for Canadian income tax purposes.

The Library management comprises:


Acquisition Policy

The Library was founded on the collections of the late C. Robert Craig and the late Kenneth F. Chivers which were donated by their widows. From this nucleus, the library collection is expanding through the generosity of donors providing materials and funds and through purchases of newly published books and other materials.

It is the policy of the Library to acquire books, magazines, photographs and other related materials pertaining to Canadian rail transportation systems with particular emphasis on those operating in the Ottawa area.

The Library is ideally positioned to accept and preserve collections or individual items depicting the history of Canadian rail transportation. Items concerning railways in the Ottawa area are particularly desired. The Library's relationship with the City of Ottawa Archives ensures that all of its valuable documents will receive the best possible care.

The Library will consider donations of material related to the aims of the Library. Cash donations are always welcome as they make possible the acquisition of materials to round out the collections. Donations are eligible for receipts for Canadian income tax purposes. Anyone wishing to make a donation should contact the Library for further information.

Book disposal

From time to time the Library may have books, magazines etc that are available for sale. They represent duplicates of items already in the Library or items that are outside of the scope of the aims of the Library. Whenever this takes place the surplus books etc will be advertised on the book sale page, usually with an attractive price differential for members. The proceeds from their sale will be used to purchase books that are considered of high priority to be added to the Library.

Current holdings

The Library has a growing number of Books, Magazines, Photographs and Prints, Drawings and Maps.

Acquisition Priorities

The Library also maintains a list of Books, Magazines and Photographs that are currently not found in the Library and which the Library wants to add.

Access to materials

The Library is located on the second floor of the City of Ottawa Archives at 100 Tallwood Drive and is open as follows:

Parking is free to anyone using the facilities of the Library or the Archives.

The Reference Room desk is staffed by volunteers - sometimes Library members and sometimes others. If you experience any difficulties in accessing Library materials because of staff inexperience send your request or comments by e-mail and arrangements will be made to assist you.

The mailing address of the Library is:

C. Robert Craig Memorial Library,
City of Ottawa Archives,
c/o 110 Laurier Avenue West, Mail Code 443,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1J1

Research Enquiries

The Library is set up to provide facilities for research to work on site at the Library. While it does not have the personnel necessary to take on work for researchers, an attempt will be made to respond to simple enquiries or to direct an enquirer into an area that might be helpful. Email your question and the Library will do what it can to help.

Researching Magazine Articles

The Library has an extensive collection of railway related magazines. The model train index is a very useful index of articles in a wide variety of magazines which is not limited to modelling. The Library collection does not cover all magazines listed and some of the Library's magazines are not listed. Nevertheless, a search in this index before coming to the Library may well save you considerable research time.

Researching Your Railway Relatives

At its peak the number of people working on Canadian railways exceeded 191,000 (1952). Thus there are many, many Canadians who have relatives who worked for one or other of Canada's railways.

Today there is a widespread interest in family history and the Library receives a regular flow of questions on how to trace a relative who either "worked for the railway", or was known to have been involved in accidents.

The Library does not hold any records which can assist in such searches. Employment records are the property of the companies and have rarely if ever been transferred to archives or other outside organizations. Today such information usually falls under the privacy laws which limit their dissemination and thus they are not readily available to the public.

Research into railway relatives, however, can be pursued through other channels. A guide to what can be done is: Canadian Railway Records, A Guide for Genealogists by Althea and J. Creighton Douglas, which may still be available from the publisher at:

The Ontario Genealogical Society, 40 Orchard View Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1B9

Local genealogical societies may be able to assist you in pursuing your research. They can often be located through the nearest public library. Indeed the local public librarian may well be the source for many other useful ideas and tips.

Canadian National has deposited much of its historical material with Library and Archives Canada, in Ottawa and they can be viewed there. You can consult the list of the Archives holdings. The Archives also maintains a genealogical desk which may be worth consulting. At their web site click on the "Services to the public" listing for more information on what the Archives can offer.

Canadian Pacific's employee records are not held by the CP Archives and they are not available for research purposes.

Ottawa area residents may wish to consult the Ottawa Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society or the Societe franco-ontarienne d'histoire et de genealogie-Regionale Samuel-de-Champlain. Both organizations are co-located with the Library.

Researching Wrecks and Accidents.

Unfortunately, wrecks and accidents were not uncommon in early railway history, and indeed still occur from time to time. The Library has no holdings which cover these events as such. Researchers seeking information about them and relatives who may have been involved should investigate newspaper accounts in the area in which the accident occurred. Many Canadian newspapers have been microfilmed and are available in public, college and university libraries either in their own holdings or through inter-library loan facilities. Other sources might be local coroner or police reports. In some cases, major accidents have been the subject of investigations by public regulatory bodies and their reports may also be useful.

Good luck in your research.

Library funding.

The Library is funded solely by memberships and donations. Members and contributors to the Library can take pride in the fact that they are helping to preserve the history of Canadian rail transportation and making sure that the information will be readily available to anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about this important part of Ottawa's and Canada's heritage.


We invite all who share the objectives of the Library to join and to participate in the maintenance and operation of it.

C. Robert "Bob" Craig

Bob Craig, in whose memory the Library was named, was a life-long resident of Ottawa. He took a great interest in model railways at an early age, and his contagious enthusiasm for the hobby never waned. He built a large railroad in his basement and operated it, with the help of friends, as though it were a real railroad. He shared his love of the hobby and, in particular, "operations", with anyone who had similar interests.

Bob had a keen interest in railways as well as model railways and he amassed a large collection of books, magazines and photographs related to rail transportation. He had a phenomenal memory for the subject and was called upon frequently by his friends and acquaintances to answer questions regarding model railroading and prototype railroading. If he could not answer a question from memory he usually remembered where he had seen the information and would search it out. The Library attempts to carry on this tradition by providing reference materials to permit people to research the subject. Consequently the library collections are rich in material on the history of rail transportation and in the scale modelling of it.

Bob was one of seven founding members, in 1961, of the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders, (OVAR), an institution still thriving today. He supported it strongly throughout his lifetime.

Ken Chivers

Ken Chivers, another founding member of the Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders, (OVAR) and a long-time friend of Bob Craig, was a keen railway historian and a prolific photographer. His documented photography collection, numbering about 9,000 colour slides and 3,000 black and white pictures is a vivid history of Canadian railways from the 1950s through the 1970s.

All of his photographs, including the negatives for the black and white pictures, are now part of the Library's holdings.

The C. Robert Craig Memorial Library Herald

In the early days of establishing the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library, a photo of Bob's favourite locomotive, the FM Trainmaster was drafted in to serve as a surrogate herald. With the passage of time a more appropriate symbol was needed. The new herald celebrates a significent Ottawa railway link.

The overall symbol of the herald is an open book with an open fold-out page surrounded by a circle bearing the Library's name.

The foldout page carries a photograph of the front of Canadian National Railway railcar #15817. The body of this railcar was one of nine built in 1925 by the Ottawa Car Manufacturing Company at its plant on the corner of Slater and Kent Streets in downtown Ottawa.

Two of the units, #15817 and #15818 were 102 foot long articulated units and the remaining seven were 60 foot single cars. The bodies were fitted with Beardmore diesel engines, National Steel Car trucks and electrical equipment from Westinghouse (articulated units) or British Thompson Houston (single units) at CN's Point St Charles shops in Montreal.

On September 19, 1925 Car # 15817 made an inaugural special run from Montreal to Ottawa via Coteau Junction, 110.2 miles in 2 hours. It entered regular service on September 28, 1925 as trains 85 & 86 between Montreal and Ottawa via St Eustache sur le Lac and Hawksbury. It was scheduled to leave Montreal at 8:20 am and arrive in Ottawa at 12:10. Ottawa departure was at 3:37 pm with arrival back in Montreal at 7:30 pm. A month later #15817 moved to Palmerston and was succeeded by #15918.

This series of cars were the first North American railcars to be powered by a combination of diesel engines and electric motors. Car #15817 remained in service until December 1942 when it was rebuilt to a trailer and renumbered 15773. Car #15818 suffered a similar fate in August 1944.

The Maple Leaf signifies the Canadian location and 1994 the year of the Library's foundation.

Supplemental information.

The Beardmore diesels so impressed Westinghouse that they purchased a licence and built them for railway use in the United States.

In June 1935 the Model Craftsman, now Railroad Model Craftsman, featured an article "An Articulated Train" with plans to build an "O' gauge #15817/8. Brass HO models of both CNR and CPR railcars and a Montreal and Southern Counties Railway car have been produced.

In 1931 and 1932 the Canadian Pacific railway received 6 railcars from the Ottawa Car Manufacturing Co. These were built to specifications and design of the Electromotive Company and powered by gasoline engines. However in mid-1935 a fire destroyed the engine in Car #9006 and it was replaced by a Harland and Wolff built diesel engine and became the first diesel-electric unit on the CPR.

Useful Links

Railway History/Technical Information Sites

Railway/Model Railway Organizations

Other Links to Railway Sites


If you have ideas or comments about what you see or would like to see or you have contributions to make to the various resource lists then please Email your suggestions.

Again, thank you for the many contributions and keep them coming!

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