Brockville Railway Tunnel
Discover Canada’s first and oldest train tunnel, the unique Brockville Railway Tunnel, which stretches underneath historic Brockville’s downtown district. Built between 1854 and 1860, steam and wood-burning trains operated by the Brockville and Ottawa Railway used the tunnel as a regional link for over 110 years. It connected Brockville’s bustling industrial waterfront with the rural areas between the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. Eventually, the train route stretched to Montreal.
The tunnel’s construction was impressive for its time, predating both the Canadian Pacific Railway and the famous rail tunnels in the Western Rockies. Engineers constructed the tunnel with stone and water lime, which created colourful mineral deposits along the walls. The entrances feature limestone rock and unique solid wood doors.
The tunnel extends 525 metres long, from Water Street near Armagh Sifton Price Park by the bank of the St. Lawrence River to its northern exit just past Pearl Street. Today, visitors can walk through the tunnel and enjoy its consistently chilly year-round temperature of 13 degrees celsius. Admission is free and the attraction is open throughout the year, seven days a week. Donations are welcome at the red donation boxes that are located at the entrance and exit of the tunnel. The donations help cover the maintenance cost of the tunnel. From the beginning of April through the end of November, you can enjoy public tours of Brockville Railway Tunnel.
Walking through the tunnel is a unique experience. A series of colourful LED lights fade and glow while highlighting the architectural and engineering heritage. It features 735 light fixtures and a modern sound system. Several benches along the walls provide places to rest, and different panels offer stories of area history, geology and construction. You’ll find proper ventilation, security, safety features, accessibility and public WiFi access throughout the tunnel.
Located underneath the historic core in the centre of Brockville, the Brockville Railway Tunnel is about halfway between Kingston to the south (83 km) and Cornwall to the north (102 km) via Highway 401.
We recommend visiting the attraction’s website for up-to-date information and details about Brockville Railway Tunnel. For more information about the tunnel and other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
More about Brockville Railway Tunnel
Each year, the Brockville Railway Tunnel welcomes more than 30,000 local, national and international visitors. It offers a unique event space and regularly features special community events, marathons and festivals. Interested parties can rent the venue for exhibitions, private receptions, dinners, parties or performances.
From 2016 to 2017, a significant renovation project improved the attraction. The community of Brockville is proud of this unique and historic tunnel, celebrating its repair with a parade and opening ceremony. As a part of the city’s Rails to Trails initiative, future plans for the tunnel include a connection to the famous Brock Trail, which stretches along the riverfront and reaches the southside of the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area. Future phases expect to improve some areas around the tunnel, like adding a visitor’s centre and public parking.
The tunnel’s southern entrance opens up to the city’s waterfront neighbourhood near Blockhouse Island Park. If you’d like a different waterfront perspective, you can enjoy a boat cruise along the river. Other nearby attractions include the city’s Aquatarium, the Brockville Museum and Hardy Park.
Historic brick buildings line the city’s main artery, King Street. You’ll find plenty of cafes, restaurants and local shops here, as well as along the numerous side streets. On the southern end is the Brockville Arts Centre, one of Canada’s prime theatres. In the centre is the Leeds and Grenville County Court House, a National Historic Site of Canada.
Brockville Railway Tunnel is a unique attraction in the Southeastern Ontario region. Enjoy a stroll through history while experiencing dazzling lights and music. Afterward, meander through Brockville’s celebrated downtown core and waterfront.