Thanks to German inventor Rudolf Diesel, it became possible to design an electric locomotive that no longer required overhead wires or a power distribution network to operate.
Indeed, the diesel engine used a generator to generate electric current needed to drive the traction motors.
This technology made its entry in the 1920s and, after initial models that were not very powerful and destined only for yard work, the entire steam locomotive era came to an end in the 1950s. Today, diesel-electric is the most common mode of locomotive propulsion in North America.
Locomotive CPR 7000
Built in 1937, by the National Steel Car, CPR 7000 was the CPR's first diesel electric locomotive. In 1937, it was the first diesel locomotive built for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although not based on new railway technology, its introduction brought positive changes to the railway company.
Locomotive CPR 8905
Canadian Pacific "Trainmaster" 8905 was the first high-horse-power diesel built in Canada. It is the only locomotive of this type left in the world.
Locomotive CNR 3684
Truly a multi-purpose engine, it could be found switching in a yard, expediting a crack passenger train to its destination or pulling a heavy drag freight.
Locomotive CPR 4563
Built for unit-train service in the Canadian Rockies, this massive locomotive generates 3,000 horse-power.
Locomotive CNR 9400
The first ALCO diesel locomotive with a stream-lined design, 9400 was born in Montreal Locomotive Works' shops in Montreal in 1950.
Locomotive CNR 77
A representative of the first developments in diesel electric technology, it is the oldest surviving CNR diesel locomotive today.
Locomotive CPR 7077
Built in 1948, it was placed on exhibit in Montreal's Windsor station as a promotional tool. The 7077 was one of the first mass produced diesels to be built in Montreal.
In 1948, this locomotive was exhibited at the Toronto World's Fair.
Gas-mechanical drive Hydro-Québec 12012
Built in 1922, this small industrial switching locomotive belonged to the Gatineau Power Company. It was used to switch flatcars carrying heavy equipment, such as transformers.
Locomotive R &S 20
In 1949, it was one the first diesel-electric locomotive built in Canada. This locomotive is a classic example of the first standard "roadswitcher's" used in Eastern Canada.
Oil-Electric Railcar 15824
Not a locomotive as such, it was one of the first self-propelled cars built to carry passengers. The only one of its type in existence in Canada today.