Short Line (Oxford to Pictou)
By John R. Cameron
The so-called Short Line along the shore of Northumberland Strait had its origin in proposals by the first Whitehaven Railway Company, which switched its focus from the route to the Atlantic in 1879 (c.68). The name comes more directly from the Great American and European Short Line Railway Company (1882, c.23), incorporated to build a railway from the northern part of the island of Cape Breton, near Cape North, to the Strait of Canso and from New Glasgow to Oxford or Amherst, with branch lines in Cape Breton and in Pictou, Colchester and Cumberland counties, including the operation of a ferry over the Strait of Canso and either running rights over the Eastern Extension or a parallel railroad. This was a grandiose project by a grandiose company that had similar broad plans in New Brunswick. The next year, it extended its route plans (1883, c.25) to run from New Glasgow to the New Brunswick border at Tidnish and from Spring Hill Mines (Springhill) to Spring Hill Junction or Oxford Station or some point between. Another railway was to run from Maccan to the Bay of Fundy near Joggins Mines, and another from Tidnish to Amherst. However, the legislature did insist that the company's first obligation was to complete and operate the line between Oxford Junction and Pugwash, which appears to have been under construction at the time. Land acquisition was the subject of the 1884 statute concerning this line (c.7). The corporate name was changed to the Montreal and European Short Line Railway Company, and its assets, chiefly in Cumberland, Colchester and Pictou counties, were charged to the North American Construction Company (1885, c.39). The railway from Oxford to New Glasgow had been constructed, but work was suspended owing to a shortage of funds which the mortgage was intended to alleviate. It seems to have worked; the line was built and operated into the 1980s as part of the Canadian National network.
Proposals for parallels or extensions include the Nova Scotia Northern (1902, c.133; extended 1903-4, c.139; 1905, c.133), an ambitious unbuilt project that sought some of the original trackage, including the route from Pugwash to Tidnish.
[SOURCE: A Legislative History of Nova Scotia Railways, by John R. Cameron, 1999.]