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Train Station › The Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR)

The Dominion Atlantic Railway ran for 36 days short of a hundred years in the northwestern part of Nova Scotia, primarily through an agricultural district known as the Annapolis Valley. It was created on October 1st, 1894, through the merger of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway (which operated between Windsor and Annapolis Royal, as the name would suggest) and the Western Counties Railway (which operated between Yarmouth and Digby). The gap between Annapolis and Digby (the so-called “missing link”) was closed in the early 1890s with government assistance. The merger of the two railway companies, for financial and operating reasons, permitted trains to operate directly between Yarmouth and Halifax.

A key component of the DAR’s passenger and freight business was its connections with various ferries that operated in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine. By 1904, the DAR owned and operated twelve steamships and ran services between Yarmouth-Boston, Yarmouth-New York and Digby-Saint John.

These ferry services launched the DAR into the forefront of Nova Scotia’s budding tourism industry, bringing travelers from the United States and Upper Canada into the unspoiled Nova Scotia countryside. To cater to these travelers, the railway subsequently built a series of hotels... the Digby Pines resort hotel in Digby, the Cornwallis Inn in Kentville and the Grand Hotel in Yarmouth.

Dominion Atlantic Railway

On November 13, 1911, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) leased the DAR and all its subsidiaries. This permitted the DAR to retain its operating independence and corporate identity.

During the First and Second World Wars, the DAR played a critical regional transportation role, serving HMCS Cornwallis, RCAF Station Greenwood, RCAF Station Stanley and Aldershot Military Camp. Post-war, the DAR was an important mode of travel, but by the late 60s, with the advent of Highway 101 and new ferry terminals in Saint John and Digby that did not allow for rail-side transfers at the dock, passenger numbers declined.

By the 1980s, the DAR/CPR transferred operation of the Halifax-Yarmouth passenger service to VIA Rail, a Crown corporation. In January of 1990, federal government cuts to VIA Rail meant the end of the line for the Halifax-Yarmouth service. The last train stopped in Annapolis Royal in March of 1990, and the track was taken up shortly afterward.

The DAR operated its last four trains on Friday, August 26th, 1994, just 36 days short of its one-hundredth anniversary. The company is still maintained on paper and is currently headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.


Ness, Gary W. Canadian Pacific’s Dominion Atlantic Railway, Vol. 1, Calgary, Alberta: B.R.M.N.A. 1988

Ness, Gary W. Canadian Pacific’s Dominion Atlantic Railway, Vol. 2, Calgary, Alberta: B.R.M.N.A. 1995

Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_Atlantic_Railway under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.