Prototype Model Railroading: Ha!
By my reckoning, in order to fill Southern Ontario with 42-inch gauge railways in the present day and into the future, I have to delve back into history nearly two hundred years to the point of divergence in order to rewrite it.
I want to better understand what happened to the canal that didn't get built. In order to do that, I should look at the canal that did get built. I think that I spent a portion of every summer as a youth on or near The Trent-Severn Waterway. It is a part of the fabric of my life. So another piece of the puzzle is contained in A RESPECTABLE DITCH: A History of the Trent-Severn Waterway 1833-1920, by James T. Angus.
Google abridged edition here.
The Ontario Simcoe & Huron Railway was the first one built in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the 1850's: A bridge route between Georgian Bay and Lake Ontario which very nearly follows the path of the proposed Ship Canal. If the Toronto and Georgian Bay Ship Canal had been built in a timely manner, it would have totally changed the transportation routes and would, I think, have greatly impacted railway development and expansion in Canada.
Not to mention the impact that it would have had on my life, considering that I grew up very near the, more or less wild, Humber River Ravine and [mis]spent my youth marauding through it with my friends. Indeed, how much different it would be to live beside an industrial transportation artery rather than meadows and bush. Or, would it have become a recreational waterway like The Trent Severn Canal System?
Either way, it would surely have had an impact on railway development and expansion in Southern Ontario during the 1850's and onward.