Quebec City – Windsor Corridor

Quebec City – Windsor Corridor

The convert|1150|km|mi|adj=on Quebec City – Windsor Corridor is the most densely-populated and heavily-industrialised region of Canada. With over 17 million people (2001 Census), it contained 56.8% of the Canadian population and three of the four largest metropolitan areas in the country in 2001. In its relative importance to the country's economic and political infrastructure, it has many similarities to the area along the Northeast Corridor in the United States.

The name is derived from the names of the cities at each end and was first popularized by VIA Rail, which runs frequent passenger rail service on what it simply calls "The Corridor". Much like the Northeast Corridor in the United States, the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor name has been expanded to refer to the geography and demography of the region the corridor traverses.


The corridor extends from Quebec City in Quebec in the northeast to Windsor in Ontario in the southwest, running north of the Saint Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

Significant urban areas along the corridor include (from east to west): Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Drummondville, Montreal, Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville, Oshawa, Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Chatham-Kent, and Windsor. In addition to these, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, Peterborough, Guelph, Brantford, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Barrie, and Sarnia are connected to the major transportation routes by feeder highways and rail lines.

Cities located in neighbouring American regions (such as Western New York and Southeast Michigan) are not considered part of the corridor but have many significant cultural, economic, and political ties with urban areas on or near the border (such as the Golden Horseshoe and Windsor). Sometimes, however, Detroit is included in this area because of its major influence over the region.

For most of its length, the corridor runs through a narrow strip of farmland with the Canadian Shield to the north and the Appalachian Mountains or the Great Lakes to the south. A drive of only a few minutes north from many of the corridor's cities or towns will show an abrupt change from flat farmland and limestone bedrock to the granite hills of the shield. The highways often run right on the boundary of the shield, and it is possible to observe the frequent change from limestone to granite in rockcuts along the way. There are, however, several wider areas of flat farmland, including the southwestern Ontario peninsula between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the eastern Ontario delta from Ottawa to the junction of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers at Montreal, and the Eastern Townships southeast of Montreal. Also surrounding Toronto is a minor Great Lakes Corridor of stratified limestone called the Niagara Escarpment

Because of the moderating influence of the Great Lakes and the frequent influx of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, the corridor — particularly the western half — has a markedly warmer climate than the rest of central Canada. The rich soil and the warm climate mean that the flora and fauna in the corridor are similar to those in the deciduous forests of the eastern United States as far south as Virginia, rather than the evergreen boreal forest that covers most of central Canada up to the Arctic. The forest in southwestern Ontario is often referred to as Carolinian forest.

The majority of the Canadian population is situated along this corridor. For example according to the 2006 Canadian Census more than 2/3 of Ontario's population live in this area.Fact|date=July 2008 Likewise, in Montreal and Quebec City nearly half of Quebec's population live near or around them.


During the French colonization of what would later be Canada in 17th and early 18th centuries, only the eastern third of the corridor, from Quebec City to Montreal, was heavily settled. The major cross-country route used by "voyageurs" in the fur trade continued west from Montreal through the Canadian Shield along the Ottawa Valley to Lake Nipissing and Georgian Bay, passing far to the north of what would later become the Ontario part of the corridor. The lack of good farmland made that route unsuitable for settlement, however, and the frequent portages made transportation in boats larger than canoes difficult. When the English-speaking United Empire Loyalists arrived in Canada after the American Revolution, they naturally settled along the narrow strip north of the St. Lawrence River and lower Great Lakes, where good farm land was available and larger boats could be used for transportation, and these people formed the English-speaking nucleus of what would later be Ontario (by contrast, many of the Ontario towns along the old fur-trading and logging route to the north, through the Ottawa Valley and westward, still have large French-speaking populations). Initially, Kingston was the principal city of the English half of the corridor, but eventually Toronto grew and eclipsed it in importance.

During both the North American part of the Seven Years' War between Great Britain and France and the War of 1812 between United Kingdom and the United States, settlements along the corridor were at the centre of the conflicts. Ottawa was eventually chosen as Canada's capital by Queen Victoria precisely because it was further inland and thus less vulnerable to attack, though it is now also considered part of the corridor. The Rideau Canal was constructed to provide a way to bypass the most vulnerable part of the corridor, from Cornwall to Kingston, where it lies directly on the U.S. border.

The construction of the Saint Lawrence Seaway during the late 1950s made it possible for some ocean-going vessels to travel the full length of the corridor and beyond to the upper Great Lakes, but resulted in the destruction of several villages in the Eastern Ontario portion of the corridor.


The corridor is held together by a series of major transportation routes—water, road, rail, and air—all running close together and sometimes overlapping each other. These routes are anchored by Highway 401, the busiest highway in Ontario from Windsor leading into Quebec Autoroute 20 to Quebec City.


The oldest transportation route is the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, where the series of channels and locks that make up the St. Lawrence Seaway allow ocean-going vessels and lake freighters to travel the entire length of the corridor.


The Ontario portion of the corridor was originally joined by Highway 2 (often known locally by names such as "Montreal Road," "Toronto Road," "Dundas Street," or "Kingston Road") following the routes of older stagecoach roads and the paths and trails that predated them. Highway 2 still forms the main street of many of the corridor's Ontario towns and cities (which were built around it), but large parts of the highway are now maintained by counties or municipalities rather than the province. From 1938 to 1968 the province of Ontario built Highway 401, a freeway that bypasses most of the town and city centres. Highway 401 is now the main transportation route of the corridor up to the Quebec border, where it becomes Autoroute 20 and continues east through the Quebec part of the corridor to Quebec City.


Both the Canadian National Railway (CN) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) have extensive freight railway lines along the length of the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor.

Extensive passenger railway service exists throughout the region, mostly using these freight lines. Inter-city passenger railway service is provided by VIA Rail and usually operates on CN with some service also available on CP. VIA also operates two former freight lines which originate in Ottawa and run to Smiths Falls, Ontario and Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec. Amtrak offers an international inter-city passenger railway service along parts of the corridor between Toronto and New York City and Montreal and New York City.

Commuter rail systems exist in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

Inter-city passenger rail

Referred to in VIA Rail's published timetables as simply the "Corridor", the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor is a VIA Rail passenger train service area in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Other inter-city trains from outside the region originate and terminate at cities in the Corridor (such as the "Canadian", "Northlander", "Chaleur" and "Ocean"). Prior to VIA's formation in 1978, both CN and CP operated Corridor services.

The "Corridor" service area is the busiest in the VIA system, accounting for the majority of Canada's intercity passenger trains and ridership. About 67% of VIA Rail's total revenue is earned on the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor.

VIA's "Corridor" service area includes the following routes:

*Montreal–Charny – Quebec City

Proposals have been advanced to build a high speed rail link in this corridor. Thus far none of these proposals has progressed beyond a very preliminary stage.

Commuter passenger rail

Three commuter rail agencies offer services in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal using railway tracks in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor.

*GO Transit operates its Lakeshore West and Lakeshore East lines, connecting Hamilton GO Centre in the west via Toronto's Union Station to Oshawa GO Station in the east within the Toronto region.

*"Agence métropolitaine de transport" operates its Dorion-Rigaud and Mont-St-Hilaire lines, connecting Rigaud and Vaudreuil-Dorion in the west via Montreal's Central Station to Mont-St-Hilaire (Saint-Basile-le-Grand Station) in the east within the Montreal region.

*OC Transpo operates its O-Train in the western part of suburban Ottawa.


The major passenger airports along the corridor are Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, Québec/Jean Lesage International Airport, Hamilton/John C. Munro International Airport and the military airbase at CFB Trenton. There are roughly 60 flights between Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto every work day, making it the busiest air route in Canada.

Other civilian corridor airports with scheduled airline service include Windsor Airport, Sarnia (Chris Hadfield) Airport, London International Airport, Region of Waterloo International Airport, Toronto City Centre Airport, Kingston/Norman Rogers Airport, and Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport. While it no longer has scheduled airline service, Toronto/Buttonville Municipal Airport is Canada's 8th busiest airport [ TP1496 - Preliminary Aircraft Movement Statistics 2007] ] by number of flights due to heavy general aviation traffic. Montréal-Mirabel International Airport is a large facility near Montreal that is mainly used for cargo flights but is also home to MEDEVACs [ It's liftoff for AirMédic ambulance] ] and general aviation [ Mirabel redécolle] ] CFS] flights.

Inside the corridor, the busiest area of travel is the Toronto–Ottawa–Montreal triangle. Air Canada serves the three cities with its "Rapidair" service, offering hourly flights, and its principal competitor WestJet offers similar service; Air Canada also offers regular scheduled flights to Quebec City.

Porter Airlines runs frequent commuter flights from Toronto City Centre Airport to Ottawa and Montreal, while Air Canada Jazz offers commuter flights connecting many of the smaller airports to Toronto Pearson or Montreal. In addition to scheduled air service, some of the airports along the corridor also have frequent charter flights to popular tourist destinations.


External references

;General information
* [ Making Transportation Sustainable: A Case Study of the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor] from Environment Canada, including information about the population and extent of the corridor.
* [ Transportation in Quebec - Economic Overview] from Transport Canada, describing the population and transportation clustering along the corridor in Quebec.
* [ Air pollution in the Windsor–Quebec City corridor: the price of the automobile?] , from Environment Canada
* [ Population distribution in Ontario] from the "Canadian Encyclopedia"
* [ Population distribution Canada] from " Stats Canada"

* [ Discussion of pros and cons of jet trains in the corridor]
* [ VIA Rail] , who originally named the corridor.
* [ AMT]
* [ O Train]
* [ GO Transit]
* [ Air Canada's RapidAir service]

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