London and Port Stanley Railway Company : Under a Province of Canada Act, 16 Vict., c.133 of 23 May 1853 the London and Port Stanley Railway was incorporated to build and operate a railway from London to Port Stanley, Ontario, on Lake Erie. The railway was intended to provide the city of London with a link to water transportation and, as the majority of the stock was owned by the municipality, give it some influence over freight rates. The line was opened for traffic on 2 October 1856.
In 1874 the London and Port Stanley Railway was leased to the Great Western Railway for a period of 20 years. The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada acquired the Great Western in 1882 and with it acquired the lease to the London and Port Stanley Railway. The London and Port Stanley Railway was not a profitable component of the Grand Trunk system. It was for this reason that in 1892, two years before the lease was due to expire, the Grand Trunk unilaterally abandoned the lease and ceased operations over the London and Port Stanley line. At this point, the Michigan Central Railroad agreed to operate the line for a short period on a month to month basis. Then, on 1 December 1893, the City of London as major stockholder in the London and Port Stanley Railway leased it to an American company, the Lake Erie and Detroit River Railroad. This lease had a duration of 20 years. In 1906 the Lake Erie and Detroit River Railroad was taken over by the Pere Marquette Railroad, another American company which operated over a system of lines in Ontario and the American mid-West. With this takeover, the Pere Marquette Railroad also acquired the lease to the London and Port Stanley Railway.
In 1902 the Pere Marquette Railroad asked the City of London if it would be agreeable to extending the lease of the London and Port Stanley Railway for a longer term. The Mayor of London at that time, Adam Beck, was a strong believer in both electric power and public ownership. Beck is probably best known as the founder of the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission. He refused to ratify the proposed lease extension and instead advocated that the City of London operate as well as own the London and Port Stanley Railway when the lease to the Pere Marquette Railroad expired. Beck also recommended that the line be completely reconstructed to permit its operation by electric power. On 22 October 1913, these proposals were put to the voters of London in a referendum and they voted in favour of both electrification and municipal operation.
Upon the expiry of the lease to the Pere Marquette Railroad on 1 December 1913 the London and Port Stanley Railway was placed under the authority of the London Railway Commission which consisted of the Mayor and four Commissioners appointed by the City Council. Reconstruction of the London and Port Stanley Railway was undertaken by the Pere Marquette Railroad under contract to the London Railway Commission. Until its reconstruction was completed in early 1915, the London and Port Stanley Railway was operated by the Pere Marquette Railroad on a month-to-month basis.
The London and Port Stanley Railway functioned as a municipally owned and operated railway for 52 years. Commencing in 1942 the London Railway Commission had the same membership as the London Public Utilities Commission although each body continued to function separately. In the last two decades of the railway's existence diesel locomotives were acquired to supplement the electric ones, but the London and Port Stanley remained primarily an electric railway. By the 1950's the London and Port Stanley Railway's financial situation had deteriorated badly. Highway competition had cut deeply into both freight and passenger business. In addition, its hitherto largest source of freight traffic, the importation of coal for the London area through Port Stanley from the United States across Lake Erie, had dwindled drastically with the decreasing use of coal. In February 1957 passenger service was abandoned. Negotiations with Canadian National Railways had been going on since 1952. Finally, on 1 January 1965 Canadian National Railways acquired the London and Port Stanley Railway from the City of London in exchange for certain Canadian National property in the city. RG30 General Inventory