The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR; AAR reporting marks CP, CPAA, CPI), known as CP Rail between 1968 and 1996, is a Canadian Class I railway operated by Canadian Pacific Railway Limited. Its rail network stretches from Vancouver to Montreal, and also serves major cities in the United States such as Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Its headquarters are in Calgary, Alberta.
The railway was originally built between eastern Canada and British Columbia between 1881 and 1885 (connecting with Ottawa Valley and Georgian Bay area lines built earlier), fulfilling a promise extended to British Columbia when it entered Confederation in 1871. It was Canada's first transcontinental railway. Now primarily a freight railway, the CPR was for decades the only practical means of long distance passenger transport in most regions of Canada, and was instrumental in the settlement and development of Western Canada. The CP company became one of the largest and most powerful in Canada, a position it held as late as 1975. Its primary passenger services were eliminated in 1986 after being assumed by VIA Rail Canada in 1978. A beaver was chosen as the railway's logo because it is one of the national symbols of Canada and represents the hardworking character of the company. The object of both praise and condemnation for over 120 years, the CPR remains an indisputable icon of Canadian nationalism.
The Canadian Pacific Railway is a public company with over 15,000 employees and market capitalization of 7 billion USD in 2008.
The first obstacle to its construction was economic. The logical route went through the American Midwest and the city of Chicago, Illinois. In addition to the obvious difficulty of building a railroad through the Canadian Rockies, an entirely Canadian route would require crossing 1,600 km (1,000 miles) of rugged terrain of the barren Canadian Shield and muskeg of Northern Ontario. To ensure this routing, the government offered huge incentives including vast grants of land in Western Canada.
In 1872, Sir John A. Macdonald and other high-ranking politicians, swayed by bribes in the so-called Pacific Scandal, granted federal contracts to Hugh Allan's "Canada Pacific Railway Company" (which was unrelated to the current company) and to the Inter-Ocean Railway Company. Because of this scandal, the Conservative party was removed from office in 1873. The new Liberal prime minister, Alexander Mackenzie, began construction of segments of the railway as a public enterprise under the supervision of the Department of Public Works. The Thunder Bay branch linking Lake Superior to Winnipeg was commenced in 1875. Progress was discouragingly slow because of the lack of public money. With Sir John A. Macdonald's return to power on October 16, 1878, a more aggressive construction policy was adopted. Macdonald confirmed that Port Moody would be the terminus of the transcontinental railway, and announced that the railway would follow the Fraser and Thompson rivers between Port Moody and Kamloops. In 1879, the federal government floated bonds in London and called for tenders to construct the 206 km (128 mile) section of the railway from Yale, British Columbia to Savona's Ferry on Kamloops Lake. The contract was awarded to Andrew Onderdonk, whose men started work on May 15, 1880. After the completion of that section, Onderdonk received contracts to build between Yale and Port Moody, and between Savona's Ferry and Eagle Pass.
On October 21, 1880, a new syndicate, unrelated to Hugh Allan's, signed a contract with the Macdonald government. They agreed to build the railway in exchange for $25,000,000 (approximately $625,000,000 in modern Canadian dollars) in credit from the Canadian government and a grant of 25,000,000 acres (100,000 km²) of land. The government transferred to the new company those sections of the railway it had constructed under government ownership. The government also defrayed surveying costs and exempted the railway from property taxes for 20 years. The Montreal-based syndicate officially comprised five men: George Stephen, James J. Hill, Duncan McIntyre, Richard B. Angus, and John Stewart Kennedy. Donald A. Smith and Norman Kittson were unofficial silent partners with a significant financial interest. On February 15, 1881, legislation confirming the contract received royal assent, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was formally incorporated the next day.
The CPR started its westward expansion from Bonfield, Ontario (previously called Callander Station) where the first spike was driven into a sunken railway tie. Bonfield, Ontario was inducted into Canadian Railway Hall of Fame in 2002 as the CPR First Spike location. That was the point where the Canada Central Railway extension ended. The CCR was owned by Duncan McIntyre who amalgamated it with the CPR and became one of the handful of officers of the newly formed CPR. The CCR started in Brockville and extended to Pembroke. It then followed a westward route along the Ottawa River passing through places like Cobden, Deux-Rivières, and eventually to Mattawa at the confluence of the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers. It then proceeded cross-country towards its final destination Bonfield (previously called Callander Station). Duncan McIntyre and his contractor James Worthington piloted the CCR expansion. Worthington continued on as the construction superintendent for the CPR past Bonfield. He remained with the CPR for about a year until he left the company. McIntyre was uncle to John Ferguson who staked out future North Bay after getting assurance from his uncle and Worthington that it would be the divisional and a location of some importance.
It was assumed that the railway would travel through the rich "Fertile Belt" of the North Saskatchewan River valley and cross the Rocky Mountains via the Yellowhead Pass, a route suggested by Sir Sandford Fleming based on a decade of work. However, the CPR quickly discarded this plan in favour of a more southerly route across the arid Palliser's Triangle in Saskatchewan and through Kicking Horse Pass over the Field Hill. This route was more direct and closer to the American border, making it easier for the CPR to keep American railways from encroaching on the Canadian market. However, this route also had several disadvantages.
One consequence was that the CPR would need to find a route through the Selkirk Mountains, as at the time it was not known whether a route even existed. The job of finding a pass was assigned to a surveyor named Major Albert Bowman Rogers. The CPR promised him a cheque for $5,000 and that the pass would be named in his honour. Rogers became obsessed with finding the pass that would immortalize his name. He found the pass on May 29, 1881, and true to its word, the CPR named the pass "Rogers Pass" and gave him the cheque. This however, he at first refused to cash, preferring to frame it, and saying he did not do it for the money. He later agreed to cash it with the promise of an engraved watch.
Another obstacle was that the proposed route crossed land controlled by the Blackfoot First Nation. This difficulty was overcome when a missionary priest, Albert Lacombe, persuaded the Blackfoot chief Crowfoot that construction of the railway was inevitable. In return for his assent, Crowfoot was famously rewarded with a lifetime pass to ride the CPR. A more lasting consequence of the choice of route was that, unlike the one proposed by Fleming, the land surrounding the railway often proved too arid for successful agriculture. The CPR may have placed too much reliance on a report from naturalist John Macoun, who had crossed the prairies at a time of very high rainfall and had reported that the area was fertile.
The greatest disadvantage of the route was in Kicking Horse Pass. In the first 6 km (3.7 miles) west of the 1,625 metre (5,330 ft) high summit, the Kicking Horse River drops 350 metres (1,150 ft). The steep drop would force the cash-strapped CPR to build a 7 km (4.5 mile) long stretch of track with a very steep 4.5% gradient once it reached the pass in 1884. This was over four times the maximum gradient recommended for railways of this era, and even modern railways rarely exceed a 2% gradient. However, this route was far more direct than one through the Yellowhead Pass, and saved hours for both passengers and freight. This section of track was the CPR's Big Hill. Safety switches were installed at several points, the speed limit for descending trains was set at 10 km per hour (6 mph), and special locomotives were ordered. Despite these measures, several serious runaways still occurred. CPR officials insisted that this was a temporary expediency, but this state of affairs would last for 25 years until the completion of the Spiral Tunnels in the early 20th century.
In 1881 construction progressed at a pace too slow for the railway's officials, who in 1882 hired the renowned railway executive William Cornelius Van Horne, to oversee construction with the inducement of a generous salary and the intriguing challenge of handling such a difficult railway project. Van Horne stated that he would have 800 km (500 miles) of main line built in 1882. Floods delayed the start of the construction season, but over 672 km (417 miles) of main line, as well as various sidings and branch lines, were built that year. The Thunder Bay branch (west from Fort William) was completed in June 1882 by the Department of Railways and Canals and turned over to the company in May 1883, permitting all-Canadian lake and rail traffic from eastern Canada to Winnipeg for the first time in Canada's history. By the end of 1883, the railway had reached the Rocky Mountains, just eight km (5 miles) east of Kicking Horse Pass. The construction seasons of 1884 and 1885 would be spent in the mountains of British Columbia and on the north shore of Lake Superior.
Many thousands of navvies worked on the railway. Many were European immigrants. In British Columbia, the CPR hired workers from China, nicknamed coolies. A navvy received between $1 and $2.50 per day, but had to pay for his own food, clothing, transportation to the job site, mail, and medical care. After two and a half months of back-breaking labour, they could net as little as $16. Chinese navvies in British Columbia made only between $0.75 and $1.25 a day, not including expenses, leaving barely anything to send home. They did the most dangerous construction jobs, such as working with explosives. The families of the Chinese who were killed received no compensation, or even notification of loss of life. Many of the men who survived did not have enough money to return to their families in China. Many spent years in lonely, sad and often poor conditions. Yet the Chinese were hard working and played a key role in building the western stretch of the railway; even some boys as young as 12 years old served as tea-boys.
By 1883, railway construction was progressing rapidly, but the CPR was in danger of running out of funds. In response, on January 31, 1884, the government passed the Railway Relief Bill, providing a further $22,500,000 in loans to the CPR. The bill received royal assent on March 6, 1884.
In March 1885, the North-West Rebellion broke out in the District of Saskatchewan. Van Horne, in Ottawa at the time, suggested to the government that the CPR could transport troops to Qu'Appelle, Assiniboia, in eleven days. Some sections of track were incomplete or had not been used before, but the trip to Winnipeg was made in nine days and the rebellion was quickly put down. Perhaps because the government was grateful for this service, they subsequently re-organized the CPR's debt and provided a further $5,000,000 loan. This money was desperately needed by the CPR. On November 7, 1885 the Last Spike was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia, making good on the original promise. Four days earlier, the last spike of the Lake Superior section was driven in just west of Jackfish, Ontario. While the railway was completed four years after the original 1881 deadline, it was completed more than five years ahead of the new date of 1891 that Macdonald gave in 1881.
The successful construction of such a massive project, although troubled by delays and scandal, was considered an impressive feat of engineering and political will for a country with such a small population, limited capital, and difficult terrain. It was by far the longest railway ever constructed at the time. It had taken 12,000 men, 5,000 horses, and 300 dog-sled teams to build the railway.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Canada, the CPR had created a network of lines reaching from Quebec City to St. Thomas, Ontario by 1885, and had launched a fleet of Great Lakes ships to link its terminals. The CPR had effected purchases and long-term leases of several railways through an associated railway company, the Ontario and Quebec Railway (O&Q). The O&Q built a line between Perth, Ontario, and Toronto (completed on May 5, 1884) to connect these acquisitions. The CPR obtained a 999-year lease on the O&Q on January 4, 1884. Later, in 1895, it acquired a minority interest in the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, giving it a link to New York and the northeast US.
By that time, however, the CPR had decided to move its western terminus from Port Moody to Gastown, which was renamed "Vancouver" later that year. The first official train destined for Vancouver arrived on May 23, 1887, although the line had already been in use for three months. The CPR quickly became profitable, and all loans from the Federal government were repaid years ahead of time.
In 1888, a branch line was opened between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie where the CPR connected with the American railway system and its own steamships. That same year, work was started on a line from London, Ontario to the American border at Windsor, Ontario. That line opened on June 12, 1890.
The CPR also leased the New Brunswick Railway for 999 years and built the International Railway of Maine, connecting Montreal with Saint John, New Brunswick in 1889. The connection with Saint John on the Atlantic coast made the CPR the first truly transcontinental railway company and permitted trans-Atlantic cargo and passenger services to continue year-round when sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence closed the port of Montreal during the winter months.
By 1896, competition with the Great Northern Railway for traffic in southern British Columbia forced the CPR to construct a second line across the province, south of the original line. Van Horne, now president of the CPR, asked for government aid, and the government agreed to provide around $3.6 million to construct a railway from Lethbridge, Alberta through Crowsnest Pass to the south shore of Kootenay Lake, in exchange for the CPR agreeing to reduce freight rates in perpetuity for key commodities shipped in Western Canada. The controversial Crowsnest Pass Agreement effectively locked the eastbound rate on grain products and westbound rates on certain "settlers' effects" at the 1897 level. Although temporarily suspended during World War I, it was not until 1983 that the "Crow Rate" was permanently replaced by the Western Grain Transportation Act which allowed for the gradual increase of grain shipping prices. The Crowsnest Pass line opened on June 18, 1899.
Practically speaking, the CPR had built a railway that operated mostly in the wilderness. The usefulness of the Prairies was questionable in the minds of many. The thinking prevailed that the Prairies had great potential. Under the initial contract with the Canadian Government to build the railway, the CPR was granted 25,000,000 acres (100,000 km²). Proving already to be a very resourceful organization, Canadian Pacific began an intense campaign to bring immigrants to Canada.
Canadian Pacific agents operated in many overseas locations. Immigrants were often sold a package that included passage on a CP ship, travel on a CP train, and land sold by the CP railway. Land was priced at $2.50 an acre and up. Immigrants paid very little for a seven-day journey to the West. They rode in Colonist cars that had sleeping facilities and a small kitchen at one end of the car. Children were not allowed off the train, lest they wander off and be left behind. The directors of the CPR knew that not only were they creating a nation, but also a long-term source of revenue for their company.
Several operational improvements were also made to the railway in western Canada. In 1909 the CPR completed two significant engineering accomplishments. The most significant was the replacement of the Big Hill, which had become a major bottleneck in the CPR's main line, with the Spiral Tunnels, reducing the grade to 2.2% from 4.5%. The Spiral Tunnels opened in August. On November 3, 1909, the Lethbridge Viaduct over the Oldman River valley at Lethbridge, Alberta was opened. It is 1,624 metres (5,327 ft) long and, at its maximum, 96 metres (314 ft) high, making it the longest railway bridge in Canada. In 1916 the CPR replaced its line through Rogers Pass, which was prone to avalanches, with the Connaught Tunnel, an eight km (5 mile) long tunnel under Mount Macdonald that was, at the time of its opening, the longest railway tunnel in the Western Hemisphere.
The CPR acquired several smaller railways via long-term leases in 1912. On January 3, 1912, the CPR acquired the Dominion Atlantic Railway, a railway that ran in western Nova Scotia. This acquisition gave the CPR a connection to Halifax, a significant port on the Atlantic Ocean. The Dominion Atlantic was isolated from the rest of the CPR network and used the CNR to facilitate interchange; the DAR also operated ferry services across the Bay of Fundy for passengers and cargo (but not rail cars) from the port of Digby, Nova Scotia to the CPR at Saint John, New Brunswick. DAR steamships also provided connections for passengers and cargo between Yarmouth, Boston and New York.
On July 1, 1912, the CPR acquired the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, a railway on Vancouver Island that connected to the CPR using a railcar ferry. The CPR also acquired the Quebec Central Railway on December 14, 1912.
During the late 19th century, the railway undertook an ambitious program of hotel construction, building the Château Frontenac in Quebec City, the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, the Banff Springs Hotel, and several other major Canadian landmarks. By then, the CPR had competition from three other transcontinental lines, all of them money-losers. In 1919, these lines were consolidated, along with the track of the old Intercolonial Railway and its spurs, into the government-owned Canadian National Railways.
When World War I broke out in 1914, the CPR devoted resources to the war effort, and managed to stay profitable while its competitors struggled to remain solvent. After the war, the Federal government created Canadian National Railways (CNR, later CN) out of several bankrupt railways that fell into government hands during and after the war. CNR would become the main competitor to the CPR in Canada.
One highlight of the 1930s, both for the railway and for Canada, was the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada in 1939, the first time that the reigning monarch had visited the country. The CPR and the CNR shared the honours of pulling the royal train across the country, with the CPR undertaking the westbound journey from Quebec City to Vancouver.
Later that year, World War II began. As it had done in World War I, the CPR devoted much of its resources to the war effort. It retooled its Angus Shops in Montreal to produce Valentine tanks, and transported troops and resources across the country. As well, 22 of the CPR's ships went to warfare, 12 of which were sunk.
In 1968, as part of a corporate re-organization, each of the CPR's major operations, including its rail operations, were organized as separate subsidiaries. The name of the railway was changed to CP Rail, and the parent company changed its name to Canadian Pacific Limited in 1971. Its express, telecommunications, hotel and real estate holdings were spun off, and ownership of all of the companies transferred to Canadian Pacific Investments. The company discarded its beaver logo, adopting the new Multimark logo that could be used for each of its operations.
During the 1980s, the Soo Line, in which CP Rail still owned a controlling interest, underwent several changes. It acquired the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern Railway in 1982. Then on February 21, 1985, the Soo Line obtained a controlling interest in the Milwaukee Road, merging it into its system on January 1, 1986. Also in 1980 Canadian Pacific bought out the controlling interests of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (TH&B) from Conrail and molded it into the Canadian Pacific System, dissolving the TH&B's name from the books in 1985. In 1987 most of CPR's trackage in the Great Lakes region, including much of the original Soo Line, were spun off into a new railway, the Wisconsin Central, which was subsequently purchased by CN. Influenced by the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1989 which liberalized trade between the two nations, the CPR's expansion continued during the early 1990s: CP Rail gained full control of the Soo Line in 1990, and bought the Delaware and Hudson Railway in 1991. These two acquisitions gave CP Rail routes to the major American cities of Chicago (via the Soo Line) and New York City (via the D&H).
During the next few years CP Rail downsized its route, and several Canadian branch lines were either sold to short lines or abandoned. This included all of its lines east of Montreal, with the routes operating across Maine and New Brunswick to the port of Saint John (operating as the Canadian Atlantic Railway) being sold or abandoned, severing CPR's transcontinental status (in Canada); the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the late 1950s, coupled with subsidized icebreaking services, made Saint John surplus to CPR's requirements. During the 1990s, both CP Rail and CN attempted unsuccessfully to buy out the eastern assets of the other, so as to permit further rationalization. As well, it closed divisional and regional offices, drastically reduced white collar staff, and consolidated its Canadian traffic control system in Calgary, Alberta.
Finally, in 1996, reflecting the increased importance of western traffic to the railway, CP Rail moved its head office to Calgary from Montreal and changed its name back to Canadian Pacific Railway. A new subsidiary company, the St. Lawrence and Hudson Railway, was created to operate its money-losing lines in eastern North America, covering Quebec, Southern and Eastern Ontario, trackage rights to Chicago, Illinois, as well as the Delaware and Hudson Railway in the U.S. Northeast. However, the new subsidiary, threatened with being sold off and free to innovate, quickly spun off losing track to short lines, instituted scheduled freight service, and produced an unexpected turn-around in profitability. After only four years, CPR revised its opinion and the StL&H formally re-amalgamated with its parent on January 1, 2001.
In 2001, the CPR's parent company, Canadian Pacific Limited, spun off its five subsidiaries, including the CPR, into independent companies. Canadian Pacific Railway formally (but, not legally) shortened its name to Canadian Pacific in early 2007, dropping the word "railway" in order to reflect more operational flexibility. Shortly after the name revision, Canadian Pacific announced that it had committed to becoming a major sponsor and logistics provider to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
On September 4, 2007, CPR announced it was acquiring the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad from its present owners, London-based Electra Private Equity. The transaction is an "end-to-end" consolidation, and will give CPR access to U.S. shippers of agricultural products, ethanol, and coal. CPR has stated its intention to use this purchase to gain access to the rich coal fields of Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The purchase price is US$1.48 billion, and future payments of over US$1.0 billion contingent on commencement of construction on the smaller railroad's Powder River extension and specified volumes of coal shipments from the Powder River basin. The transaction is subject to approval of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), which is expected to take a year. On October 4, 2007, CPR announced it has completed the financial transactions required for the acquisition, placing the DM&E and IC&E in a voting trust with Richard Hamlin appointed as the trustee. CPR plans to integrate the railroads' operations once the STB approves the acquisition.
Over half of the Canadian Pacific Railway's freight traffic is in coal, grain, and intermodal freight, and the vast majority of its profits are made in western Canada. A major shift in trade from the Atlantic to the Pacific has caused serious drops in CPR's wheat shipments through Thunder Bay. It also ships automotive parts and assembled automobiles, sulphur, fertilizers, other chemicals, forest products, and other types of commodities. The busiest part of its railway network is along its main line between Calgary and Vancouver.
Since 1970, coal has become a major commodity hauled by CPR. Coal is shipped in unit trains from coal mines in the mountains, most notably Sparwood, British Columbia to terminals at Roberts Bank and North Vancouver, from where it is then shipped to Japan. The CPR hauls over 34 million tons of coal to the west coast each year, mainly for export to Japan.
Grain is hauled by the CPR from the prairies to ports at Thunder Bay, Ontario (the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur), Quebec City and Vancouver, where it is then shipped overseas. The traditional winter export port was West Saint John, New Brunswick when ice closed the St. Lawrence River. Grain has always been a significant commodity hauled by the CPR; between 1905 and 1909, the CPR double-tracked its section of track between Fort William and Winnipeg to facilitate grain shipments. For several decades this was the only long stretch of double-track mainline outside of urban areas on the CPR.
In 1952, the CPR became the first North American railway to introduce intermodal or "piggyback" freight service, where truck trailers are carried on flat cars. Containers later replaced most piggyback service. In 1996, the CPR introduced a scheduled reservation-only short-haul intermodal service between Montreal and West Toronto called the Iron Highway; it utilized unique equipment that was later replaced (1999) by conventional piggyback flatcars and renamed Expressway. This service was extended to Detroit with plans to reach Chicago. It was later cut back to Milton, west of Toronto.
After World War II, passenger traffic declined as automobiles and aeroplanes became more common, but the CPR continued to innovate in an attempt to keep ridership up. Beginning November 9, 1953, the CPR introduced Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) on many of its lines. Officially called "Dayliners" by the CPR they were always referred to as Budd Cars by employees. Greatly reduced travel times and reduced costs resulted which saved service on many lines for a number of years. The CPR would go on to acquire the second largest fleet of RDCs totaling 52 cars. Only the Boston and Maine Railroad had more. On April 24, 1955, the CPR introduced a new luxury transcontinental passenger train, The Canadian. The train provided service between Vancouver and Toronto or Montreal (east of Sudbury, the train was in two sections). The train, which operated on an expedited schedule, was pulled by diesel locomotives, and used new, streamlined, stainless steel rolling stock.
Starting in the 1960s, however, the railway started to discontinue much of its passenger service, particularly on its branch lines. For example, passenger service ended on its line through southern British Columbia and Crowsnest Pass in January 1964, and on its Quebec Central in April 1967, and the transcontinental train The Dominion was dropped in January 1966. On October 29, 1978, CP Rail transferred its passenger services to VIA Rail, a new federal Crown corporation that was now responsible for intercity passenger services in Canada.
In addition to inter-city passenger services, the CPR also provided commuter rail services in Montreal. CP Rail introduced Canada's first bi-level passenger cars here in 1970. On October 1, 1982, the Montreal Urban Community Transit Commission (MUCTC) assumed responsibility for the commuter services previously provided by CP Rail. It continues under the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (AMT).
Canadian Pacific Railway currently operates three commuter services under contract. The West Coast Express comprises ten daily trains running into downtown Vancouver on behalf of TransLink, a regional transit authority. GO Transit contracts CPR to operate 6 return trips between Milton and downtown Toronto in Ontario. In Montreal, Quebec, commuter trains run on CPR lines from Lucien-L'Allier Station to Candiac, Rigaud and Blainville–Saint-Jerome on behalf of the AMT.
Sleeping cars were operated by a separate department of the railway that included the dining and parlour cars and aptly named as the Sleeping, Dining and Parlour Car Department.
The CPR decided from the very beginning that it would operate its own sleeping cars unlike railways in the United States that depended upon independent companies that specialized in providing cars and porters, including building the cars themselves. Pullman was long a famous name in this regard, its Pullman porters were legendary. Other early companies included the Wagner Palace Car Company. Bigger-sized berths and more comfortable surroundings were built by order of the CPR's General Manager, William Van Horne, who was a large man himself. Providing and operating their own cars allowed better control of the service provided as well as keeping all of the revenue received although profit was never a direct result of providing food to passengers. Rather, it was the realization that those who could afford to travel great distances expected such facilities and their favourable opinion would bode well to attracting others to Canada and the CPR's trains.
This department also operated the news service which provided the news agents on passenger trains, who sold small refreshments and many other items such as playing cards to travelers, who might otherwise be unable to afford the higher priced dining car meals. The news service also operated lunch counters in medium sized stations at key points (there were 19 of them east of Winnipeg) while the large terminal stations had dining rooms operated directly by the Dining Car Department (e.g. the Alouette Room in Montreal's Windsor Station and the Pacific Room in the Vancouver station).
Dominion Express Company was formed independently in 1873 before the CPR itself, although train service did not begin until the summer of 1882 at which time it operated over some of track from Rat Portage (Kenora) Ontario west to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was soon absorbed into the CPR and expanded everywhere the CPR went. It was renamed Canadian Express Company on September 1, 1926 and the headquarters moved from Winnipeg, to Toronto. It was operated as a separate company with the railway charging them to haul express cars on trains. At major terminals separate buildings usually next to stations were owned by CPE. At smaller locations where volume would not warrant a separate employee the local station agent would act for the Express Company receiving a commission for all sales made on their behalf.
Express was handled in separate cars, some with employees on board, on the headend of passenger trains to provide a fast scheduled service for which higher rates could be charged than for LCL (Less than Carload Lot), small shipments of freight which were subject to delay. Aside from all sorts of small shipments for all kinds of businesses such products as cream, butter, poultry, and eggs were handled along with fresh flowers, fish and other sea foods some handled in separate refrigerated cars. Horses and livestock along with birds and small animals including prize cattle for exhibition were carried often in special horse cars that had facilities for grooms to ride with their animals. Automobiles for individuals were also handled by express in closed boxcars. Gold and silver bullion as well as cash were carried in large amounts between the mint and banks etc. Small business money shipments and valuables such as jewellery were routinely handled in small packets. Money orders and travellers’ cheques were an important part of the express company’s business and were used worldwide in the years before credit cards.
Canadian Express Cartage Department was formed in March 1937 to handle pickup and delivery of most express shipments including less-than-carload freight. Their trucks were painted Killarney (dark) green while regular express company vehicles were painted bright red.
Express routes using highway trucks beginning in November 1945 in southern Ontario and Alberta co-ordinated rail and highway service expanded service to better serve smaller locations especially on branchlines. Trucking operations would go on to expand across Canada making it an important transportation provider for small shipments. Deregulation in the 1980s changed everything, and it was not long before all trucking services were ended even after many attempts to change with the times. CanPar was one such attempt.
Paid for by the word, a telegram was an expensive way to send messages but, vital to businesses. An individual receiving a personal telegram was seen as being someone important except for those that transmitted sorrow in the form of death notices. Messengers on bicycles delivered telegrams and picked up a reply in cities. In smaller locations the local railway station agent would handle this on a commission basis. To speed things, at the local end messages would first be telephoned.
In 1931 it became the Communications Department in recognition of the expanding services provided which included telephones lines, news wire, ticker quotations for the stock market and eventually teletype machines. All were faster than mail and very important to business and the public alike for many decades before cell phones and computers came along.
It was the coming of these newer technologies especially cellular telephones that eventually resulted in the demise of these services even after formation in 1967 of CN-CP Telecommunications in an effort to effect efficiencies through consolidation rather than competition. Commercial telegraph service officially ended in 1974. Deregulation in the 1980s brought about mergers and the sale of remaining services and facilities.
Once the railway was completed to British Columbia the CPR chartered and soon bought their own steamships. These sleek steamships were of the latest design and christened with the prefix Empress in a link to the Orient. Travel to and from the Orient and cargo, especially imported tea and silk were an important source of revenue aided by Royal Mail contracts. This was an important part of the All Red Route to link the British Empire. The other ocean part was the Atlantic service from England which began with acquisition of two existing lines, Beaver Line, owned by Elder Dempster and Allan Lines. These two segments became Canadian Pacific Ocean Services (later, Canadian Pacific Steamships) and operated separately from the various lake services operated in Canada. These trans-ocean routes made it possible to travel from Britain to Hong Kong using only the CPR's ships, trains and hotels. CP’s 'Empress' ships became world-famous for their luxury and speed. They had a practical role too in transporting immigrants from much of Europe to Canada especially to populate the vast prairies. They also played an important role in both world wars with many of them being lost to enemy action including the Empress of Britain.
There were also a number of rail ferries operated over the years as well including, between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan from 1890 until 1915. This began with two paddle-wheelers capable of carrying 16 cars. Passenger cars were carried as well as freight. This service ended in 1915 when the CPR made an agreement with the Michigan Central to use their Detroit River tunnel opened in 1910.
Pennsylvania-Ontario Transportation Company was formed jointly with the PRR in 1906 to operate a ferry across lake Erie between Ashtabula, Ohio and Port Burwell, Ontario to carry freight cars, mostly of coal, much of it to be burned in CPR steam locomotives. Only one ferry boat was ever operated, the Ashtabula, a large vessel which eventually sank in a harbour collision in Ashtabula on September 18, 1958 thus ending the service.
Canadian Pacific Car and Passenger Transfer Company was formed by other interest in 1888 linking the CPR in Prescott, Ontario, and the NYC in Ogdensburg, New York. Service on this route had actually begun very early, in 1854 along with service from Brockville. A bridge built in 1958 ended passenger service however, freight continued until Ogdensburg's dock was destroyed by fire September 25, 1970 thus ending all service. CPC&PTC was never owned by the CPR.
Eventually, after 78 years, with the changing times the scheduled passenger services would all be ended as well as ocean cruises. Cargo would continue on both oceans with a change over to containers. Canadian Pacific was an intermodal pioneer especially on land with road and rail mixing to provide the best service.
CP Ships was the final operation, and in the end it too left Canadian Pacific ownership when it was sold off in 2005.
BCCS was established when the CPR acquired in 1901 Canadian Pacific Navigation Company (no relation) and its large fleet of ships that served 72 ports along the coast of British Columbia including on Vancouver Island. Service included the Vancouver-Victoria-Seattle Triangle Route, Gulf Islands, Powell River, as well as Vancouver-Alaska service. BCCS operated a fleet of 14 passenger ships made up of a number of Princess ships, pocket versions of the famous ocean going Empress ships along with a freighter, three tugs and five rail car barges. Popular with tourists, the Princess ships were famous in their own right especially the Princess Marguerite (II) which became the last coastal liner operating from 1949 until 1985. The best known of the princess ships, however, is the Princess Sophia, which sank with no survivors in October 1918 after striking the Vanderbilt Reef in Alaska's Lynn Canal, constituting the largest maritime disaster in the history of the Pacific Northwest.
These services continued for many years until changing conditions in the late 1950s brought about their decline and eventual demise at the end of season in 1974. The Princess Marguerite was acquired by the province’s British Columbia Steamship (1975) Ltd. and continued to operate for a number of years.
The sternwheel steamship Moyie on Kootenay Lake was the last CPR passenger boat in BC lake service, having operated from 1898 until 1957. It became a beached historical exhibit.
Funeral trains would carry the remains of important people, such as prime ministers. As the train would pass, mourners would be at certain spots to show respect. Two of the CPR's funeral trains are particularly well-known. On June 10, 1891, the funeral train of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald ran from Ottawa to Kingston, Ontario. The train consisted of five heavily draped passenger cars and was pulled by 4-4-0 No. 283. On September 14, 1915, the funeral train of former CPR president Sir William Cornelius Van Horne ran from Montreal to Joliet, Illinois, pulled by 4-6-2 No. 2213. The Canadian was used as funeral train for former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1979.
In 1939 the CPR had the honour of giving King George VI and Queen Elizabeth a rail tour of Canada, from Quebec City to Vancouver. This was the first visit to Canada by a reigning Monarch. The steam locomotive used to pull the train was numbered 2850, a Hudson (4-6-4) built by Montreal Locomotive Works. Specially painted royal blue with silver trim as was the entire train, the locomotive ran 5,189 km (3,224 miles) across Canada, through 25 changes of crew, without engine failure. The King, somewhat of a railbuff, rode in the cab when possible. After the tour, King George gave the CPR permission to use the term "Royal Hudson" for these locomotives and to display Royal Crowns on their running boards. This applied only to the semi-streamlined locomotives (2820–2864), not the "standard" Hudsons (2800–2819).
Major filming for the 1976 movie Silver Streak, a fictional comedy tale of a train trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, was done on the CPR, mainly in the Alberta area with station footage at Toronto's Union Station. The train set was so lightly disguised as the fictional "AMRoad" that the locomotives and cars still carried their original names and numbers, along with the easily-identifiable CP Rail red-striped paint scheme. Most of the cars are still in revenue service on VIA Rail Canada; the lead locomotive is extant in Quebec, but the second unit has been scrapped.
Since its launch in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised more than $2.3 million CAD and 506 tons of food for North American food banks. All donations collected in a community remain in that community for distribution.
In 1998, the CPR repatriated one of its former passenger steam locomotives that had been on static display in the United States following its sale in January 1964, long after the close of the steam era. CPR Hudson 2816 was re-designated Empress 2816 following a 30-month restoration that cost in excess of $1 million. It was subsequently returned to service to promote public relations. It has operated across much of the CPR system, including lines in the United States. It has been used for various charitable purposes, the most significant of which has been to raise awareness of the need to provide children with a nourishing breakfast to aid their learning in school. One hundred percent of the money raised goes to the nation-wide charity Breakfast For Learning — the CPR bears all of the expenses associated with the operation of the train.
In the CPR's early years, it made extensive use of American Standard 4-4-0 steam locomotives and example of this is the Countess of Dufferin. Later, considerable use was also made of the 4-6-0 type for passenger and 2-8-0 type for freight.
Starting in the 20th century, the CPR bought and built hundreds of Ten-Wheeler type 4-6-0s for passenger and freight service and similar quantities of 2-8-0s and 2-10-2s for freight. 2-10-2s were also used in passenger service on mountain routes. The CPR bought hundreds of 4-6-2 Pacifics between 1906 and 1948 with later versions being true dual purpose passenger and fast freight locomotives.
The CPR built hundreds of its own locomotives at its shops in Montreal, first at the New Shops as the DeLorimer shops were commonly referred to and at the massive Angus Shops that replaced them in 1904.
Some of the CPR's best-known locomotives were the 4-6-4 Hudsons. First built in 1929 they began a new era of modern locomotives with capabilities that changed how transcontinental passenger trains ran, eliminating frequent changes en route. What once took 24 changes of engines in 1886, all of them 4-4-0s except for two of 2-8-0s in the mountains, for between Montreal and Vancouver became 8 changes. The 2800s (Twenty Eight Hundreds) as the Hudson type was known, ran from Toronto to Fort William a distance of 811 miles (1,306 km), while another lengthy engine district was from Winnipeg to Calgary 832 miles (1,338 km). Especially notable were the semi-streamlined H1 class Royal Hudson, locomotives that were given their name because one of their class hauled the Royal Train carrying King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on the 1939 Royal Tour across Canada without change or failure. That locomotive, No. 2850, is preserved in the Exporail exhibit hall of the Canadian Railway Museum in St. Constant (Delson) Quebec. One of the class, No. 2860, was restored by the British Columbia government and used in excursion service on the British Columbia Railway between 1974 and 1999.
In 1929, the CPR received its first 2-10-4 Selkirk locomotives, the largest steam locomotives to run in Canada and the British Empire. Named after the Selkirk Mountains where they served, these locomotives were well suited for steep grades. They were regularly used in passenger and freight service. The CPR would own 37 of these locomotives, including number 8000, an experimental high pressure engine. The last steam locomotives that the CPR received, in 1949, were Selkirks, numbered 5930–5935.
In 1937, the CPR acquired its first diesel-electric locomotive, a custom built one-of-a-kind switcher numbered 7000. This locomotive was not successful and was not repeated. Production model diesels were imported from American Locomotive Company (Alco) starting with five model S-2 yard switchers in 1943 and followed by further orders. In 1949, operations on lines in Vermont were dieselized with Alco FA1 road locomotives (8 A and 4 B units), 5 Alco RS-2 road switchers, 3 Alco S-2 switchers and 3 EMD E8 passenger locomotives. In 1948 Montreal Locomotive Works began production of Alco designs.
In 1949, the CPR acquired 13 Baldwin designed locomotives from the Canadian Locomotive Company for its isolated Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, and Vancouver Island was quickly dieselized. Following that successful experiment, the CPR started to dieselise its main network. Dieselization was completed eleven years later, with its last steam locomotive running on November 6, 1960. The CPR's first-generation locomotives were mostly made by General Motors Diesel and Montreal Locomotive Works, (American Locomotive Company designs), with some made by the Canadian Locomotive Company to Baldwin and Fairbanks Morse designs. CP was the first railway in North America to pioneer AC traction diesel-electric locomotives, in 1984. In 1995 CP turned to General Electric GE Transportation Systems for the first production AC traction locomotives in Canada, and now has the highest percentage of AC locomotives in service of all North American Class I railways. As of early 2007, 578 of the CPR's 1,669 locomotives are AC.
CPR also has a fleet of boxcars, insulated boxcars, centrebeam flatcars, auto parts service boxcars, regular flat cars, and a fleet of tank cars.