The harsh Canadian winter could prove a challenge to train travel, especially when storms dumped enormous amounts of snow on the tracks. In this 1877 painting, Alfred Frederick Beevor (1846-1911) depicts a train with a plow attached to the engine blasting its way through the snow. Beevor was very familiar with this type of situation, as he worked as a draughtsman, and then as a civil engineer, for the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), based in Montreal.
In the early years of Canadian railway development, the trains simply did not run during the winter. By 1850, however, the increasing importance of the railway as a means of transportation for goods and people prompted the GTR to look for ways to support year-round train travel. The GTR not only equipped locomotives with snowplows, it also developed separate wedge-plow cars, which were designed to be pushed by up to six locomotives through heavy snow drifts.
Later in the 19th century, a Canadian dentist came up with the idea for a plow similar in concept to the dental drill. This design was the basis for the rotary plow which proved invaluable in clearing show from the tracks of the transcontinental railways that connected Canada from coast to coast.