© Thiery Marcoux / Bibliothèque nationale du Québec, iconodoc.092, E.Spanier, La Haye
Montreal was a rapidly expanding city at the time George-Étienne Cartier entered politics. The city's population increased by 56% between 1851 and 1861, and topped the 100,000 mark in 1871. Cartier believed that Montreal's economic prosperity depended on business and trade. Thus, as early as 1846, he took an active part in the development of transportation and communication infrastructures.
Throughout his entire political career, George-Étienne Cartier was an ardent proponent of railroads, particularly the Grand Trunk Railway, which he began promoting in 1853. The Victoria Bridge was built, moreover, in keeping with plans to link Montreal and Portland, Maine. In 1860, the main line, or trunk, of the railway was completed, and now ran from Sarnia, Ontario, to Portland, with major stops at Montreal and in the Eastern Townships.