The Guelph Historical Railway Association does not have any affiliation to locomotive 6167 directly, since the engine is owned by Guelph Museums. Since 6167 is probably the most visible aspect of railway preservation in Guelph, we have and will continue advocating for the upkeep and maintenance of this incredible locomotive.
The History of 6167
The Canadian National Railways in the 1930s developed their own design of the popular 4-8-4 ‘Northern type’ locomotive, which they named the ‘Confederation type’. A locomotive type was a name given to locomotives with a certain wheel arrangement. In 6167’s case, it has 4 leading or pilot wheels; small, un-powered wheels at the front. These wheels help with weight distribution, as well as to aid in guiding the locomotive down the tracks. These are followed by 8 driving wheels which are powered from the steam cylinders, and 4 trailing wheels under the cab which help support the firebox. Like the pilot wheels, trailing wheels are also un-powered. Over time, the uniquely Canadian ‘Confederation type’ name was dropped and replaced with the more common Northern moniker used on other North American railways. In total, Canadian National rostered 203 Northern type locomotives.
Locomotive 6167 was one of those 203. Built by the Montreal Locomotive Works company in March 1940. It was soon based on Canada’s east coast hauling passengers and supplies for the war effort between Moncton and Halifax. The locomotive was given the class designation of U-2-e. The ‘U’ stands for the wheel arrangement, which for CNR was the 4-8-4 wheel arrangement. The ‘2’ stands for the model designation, determined by design and order-specific factors such as cylinder size. Lastly, the ‘e’ stands for the order it came in. 6167 was part of the 5th order of this class, hence the letter ‘e’.
Disaster Near Montmagny
On July 6, 1943, disaster struck 6167, when it collided head on at full speed with her sister engine, 6166. Tragically, the engineer onboard 6167 perished, as did both engineer and fireman of 6166. The wreck did more than 1 million dollars in damage (almost 15 million today). The damage to 6167 was valued at over $40,000. Had it not been for a critical locomotive shortage during the war, the Canadian National Railway likely would have scrapped 6167, but instead restored the engine to operating condition and continued to operate the locomotive until the end of the steam era, when it was taken from service in 1959 in favour of new diesel locomotives.
A New Kind Of Service
During 6167’s regular service career, the locomotive traveled over 1 million miles. Quite the feat for a locomotive. As her sister engines were being scrapped, 6167 was saved from the scrappers torch and given a new lease on life as an excursion locomotive thanks to efforts by the Upper Canada Railway Society, and members of the Canadian National management.
Locomotive 6167 began touring mainlines and branch-lines of Canada, carrying railfans, historians and children, all looking to experience the majesty of steam locomotives. 6167 would go on to do 50 subsequent trips with the UCRS, as well as a small handful of trips for both the National Railway Historical Society chapters from Buffalo and Rochester, New York, and the Michigan Railroad Club, traveling an additional 12,000 miles. During her time as an excursion locomotive, 6167 hauled almost 40,000 people, and did countless photo run-pasts for railfans eager to photograph these last vestiges of steam. The engine deservedly earned the nickname of the most photographed locomotive in North America.
Sadly, 6167’s time came to an end in 1964. The locomotive required new boiler tubes to continue to operate, and Canadian National decided it would retire the locomotive and replace her with 6218, another northern type that had been stored serviceable to take over the excursion runs. 6167’s final excursion trip was September 28, 1964, a doubleheader with 6218 to symbolize the change-off of excursion engines.
CNR 6167 and 6218 at the Stuart St. Yard in Hamilton, Ontario. This was the final day of operations for 6167, September 28, 1967. In the background are multiple diesel locomotives including a GMD-1 and and S7, both wearing early Canadian National Railway diesel paint schemes.
Donation To The City Of Guelph
After the final excursion run in 1964, 6167 was stored at Spadina roundhouse in Toronto. She was saved from the cutting torch again in 1967 when in honor of Canada’s centennial, 6167 was gifted to the City Of Guelph. 6167 has sat proudly on display in the city ever since. Originally located on MacDonnell Street near the Cooperators Insurance building. On June 15 and 16, 2010, 6167 was moved to the south side of the CN Guelph Subdivision on Farquhar Street to make was for the bus terminal portion of Guelph Central Station.
In 2002, 6167 was in need of restoration, and the city formed the “6167 Restoration Committee”, which was comprised of city staff, and knowledgeable railway enthusiasts to plan and restore the engine. GHRA members like Bruce Lowe were on that committee. The restoration was completed in 2014. The locomotive is now in the collection of Guelph Museums.
6167 on display at Farquhar, Street. Opposite the Guelph Central Station.
2020 Move to John Galt Park
6167 has sat on display near the Guelph Central Station since it arrived in Guelph. However, as Metrolinx plans to increase the size of the station for future GO train service, a second move was planned for 6167. This time, 6167 was moved to John Galt Park, adjacent to the Guelph Junction Railway tracks, and on the site of Guelph’s first building, The Priory, where she will continue to be cherished by the citizens and visitors to Guelph. See photographs and read more about the move to John Galt Park here!
This locomotive logged over 1 million miles during its career, survived a deadly head-on collision, and during its excursion years alone it carried over 40,000 passengers. When viewing this locomotive, think of its connection to the development of Canada. Carrying troops to the Port of Halifax, delivering cargo to thousands of businesses along the line, and flying through the countryside with cars full of passengers excited to see and experience steam in the final years before retirement. The locomotive has played a role in many lives over the last century and is an integral part of the Canadian identity.
Jacob Patterson, GHRA Archivist