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The Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway (ED&BC) was an early pioneer railway in northwestern Albertamarker, designed to open up the Peace River district.

The ED&BC was preceded by a promotional railway known as the Athabaska Railway which was floated in the 1910s during the heady days of Canadian railway expansion. On paper it was to strike out from Edmontonmarker northwestward to Peace River Country, over Pine Pass and eventually reach Prince George, British Columbiamarker. There were also amorphous dreams of reaching the Yukonmarker.

Together with the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, the ED&BC had dreams of becoming a much larger system, possibly through partnership. Chided as the "Exceedingly Dangerous and Badly Constructed Railway", it took a few years to formulate. Fires, flood, strikes and other mishaps plagued the line in its early years.

The company was rechartered in 1911 under the ownership of J.D. McArthur as the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway. Construction of the ED&BC started in 1912 from Edmontonmarker heading toward Westlockmarker, reaching High Prairiemarker in 1914, and Spirit Rivermarker in 1915. Deciding not to proceed to Dunveganmarker, a branch was built south from Rycroftmarker to Grande Prairie in 1916 (400 miles northwest from Edmonton). In 1924 the line was extended to Wembleymarker and it reached Hythemarker in 1928.

Costs, financial depression, overbuilding by many companies in the west and World War I all curtailed railway development. As a result, the Government of Alberta bought the railway, and leased it to the Canadian Pacific Railway for several years.

Northern Alberta Railway

In 1929, the ED&BC became part of the provincial Crown corporation Northern Alberta Railway. The government extended the NAR's former ED&BC line west from Hythe to a new western terminus at Dawson Creek, British Columbiamarker, British Columbiamarker, however the entire NAR stagnated throughout the 1930s and the Great Depression. A traffic boom returned to northern Alberta with World War II and the construction of the Alaska Highway and the oil industry in the Northwest Territoriesmarker. ED&BC locomotive No. 73 and several cars survive at the Alberta Railway Museum in Edmonton.

The ED&BC was one of three lines in Northern Alberta; the other two being the Central Canada Railway and the Alberta Waterways Railway.

Scientific wunderkind Dr. Karl Clark, of the University of Albertamarker, ran out of room in the university basements, and human muscle to move the raw oilsand material he was researching at the University of Alberta, and thus he moved his washing machine, steam plant and other apparatus, to the ED&BC shop facilities in Edmonton. He continued to perfect his oil separation process with became the basis for modern-day Alberta's oilsands industry, demonstrated by Syncrude's vast operation in Fort McMurraymarker.


  • Bruce Ramsey. PGE—Railway to the North. Mitchell Vancouver, 1962.

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