|In “The Story of Rivers” we learn
that in 1908, “Now completed, or in
various stages of construction, were the mile-long trestle bridge
spanning the Little Saskatchewan valley, a two-story depot with its
Company offices, the roundhouse and shops, the terminal yards. And
nearby - a mushrooming settlement.”
As a divisional point of the new Grand Trunk Pacific, the town of
Rivers underwent a considerable building boom as the Railway began the
construction of buildings to service and store the many locomotives
that would be passing through. By 1909 up to 300 people were employed
in railway operations.
1: The first roundhouse, under construction.
courtesy the Archives of Manitoba.
Motive-power required constant care and attention, to be kept ready for
duties on "the road." Above, an engine prepares to move off the
The most important structure was the Roundhouse. Roundhouses or
Engine Houses are large, circular or semicircular structures that were
traditionally located surrounding or adjacent to turntables. The
defining feature of the traditional roundhouse was the turntable, which
facilitates access when the building is used for repair facilities or
for storage of steam locomotives.
Early steam locomotives normally travelled forwards only; although
reverse operations capabilities were soon built into locomotive
mechanisms, the controls were normally optimized for forward travel,
and the locomotives often could not operate as well in reverse. A
turntable allowed a locomotive or other rolling stock to be turned
around for the return journey.
In 1918 the roundhouse and machine shop were rebuilt and updated. Fire
damaged the newly completed structure but the building was saved. A
tornado destroyed one end of the building in August 1935 and a storm
buckled part of the roof in July of 1940. But it remained a vital part
of the railroad operation until the 1950’s when diesel locomotives were
introduced. These new engines required much less local maintenance.
In 1918 the roundhouse and machine
shop were rebuilt.
The final days