I hope you have been enjoying these little smiles. I really enjoy reading your responses!
Thursday June 3, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Canadian Pacific Railway
On this Day:
In 1889, The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) (reporting marks CP, CPAA, MILW, SOO), known as CP Rail between 1968 and 1996 and simply Canadian Pacific, is a historic Canadian Class I railway incorporated in 1881. The railway is owned by Canadian Pacific Railway Limited, which began operations as legal owner in a corporate restructuring in 2001.
Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, it owns approximately 20,100 kilometres (12,500 mi) of track in seven provinces of Canada and into the United States, stretching from Saint John, New Brunswick to Vancouver, and as far north as Edmonton. Its rail network also serves Minneapolis–St. Paul, Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, and Albany, New York in the United States.
The railway was first built between eastern Canada and British Columbia between 1881 and 1885 (connecting with Ottawa Valley and Georgian Bay area lines built earlier), fulfilling a commitment extended to British Columbia when it entered Confederation in 1871; it was Canada’s first transcontinental railway. 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 CPR became one of the largest and most powerful companies 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.
The company acquired two American lines in 2009: the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DM&E) and the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad (IC&E). The trackage of the IC&E was at one time part of CP subsidiary Soo Line and predecessor line, The Milwaukee Road. The combined DM&E/IC&E system spanned North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa, with two short stretches into Kansas City, Missouri, and a line to Chicago, Illinois. The railroad also has regulatory approval to build a line into the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. It is publicly traded on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker CP. Its U.S. headquarters are in Minneapolis.
Together with the Canadian Confederation, the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway was a task originally undertaken as the National Dream by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald (1st Canadian Ministry). He was helped by Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, who was the owner of the North Western Coal and Navigation Company. British Columbia, a four-month sea voyage away from the East Coast, had insisted upon a land transport link to the East as a condition for joining Confederation (initially requesting a wagon road).
In 1873, Sir John A. Macdonald and other high-ranking politicians, bribed in the Pacific Scandal, granted federal contracts to Hugh Allan’s Canada Pacific Railway Company (which was unrelated to the current company) rather than to David Lewis Macpherson’s Inter-Ocean Railway Company which was thought to have connections to the American Northern Pacific Railway Company. Because of this scandal, the Conservative Party was removed from office in 1873. The new Liberal prime minister, Alexander Mackenzie, ordered construction of segments of the railway as a public enterprise under the supervision of the Department of Public Works led by Sandford Fleming. Surveying was carried out during the first years of a number of alternative routes in this virgin territory followed by construction of a telegraph along the lines that had been agreed upon. The Thunder Bay section linking Lake Superior to Winnipeg was commenced in 1875. By 1880, around 1,000 kilometres (700 mi) was nearly complete, mainly across the troublesome Canadian Shield terrain, with trains running on only 500 kilometres (300 mi) of track.
With Macdonald’s return to power on 16 October 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 mi) 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 15 May 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 21 October 1880, a new syndicate, unrelated to Hugh Allan’s, signed a contract with the Macdonald government. Fleming was dismissed and replaced with Sir Collingwood Schreiber as chief engineer and general manager of all government railways. They agreed to build the railway in exchange for $25 million (approximately $625 million in modern Canadian dollars) in credit from the Canadian government and a grant of 25 million acres (100,000 km2) of land. The government transferred to the new company those sections of the railway it had constructed under government ownership, on which it had already spent at least $25 million. But its estimates of the cost of the Rocky Mountain section alone was over $60 million. 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 15 February 1881, legislation confirming the contract received royal assent, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was formally incorporated the next day. Critics claimed that the government gave too large a subsidy for the proposed project but this was to incorporate uncertainties of risk and irreversibility of insurance. The large subsidy also needed to compensate the CPR for not constructing the line in the future, but rather right away even though demand would not cover operational costs.
A beaver was chosen as the railway’s logo in honour of Donald Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, who had risen from factor to governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company over a lengthy career in the beaver fur trade. Smith was a principal financier of the CPR, staking much of his personal wealth to the venture. In 1885, he drove the last spike to complete the transcontinental line.
Building the railway took over four years. James J. Hill in 1881 sent Alpheus Beede Stickney to be construction superintendent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Canadian Pacific Railway began its westward expansion from Bonfield, Ontario (previously called Callander Station), where the first spike was driven into a sunken railway tie. Bonfield 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 of Bonfield. Duncan McIntyre and his contractor James Worthington piloted the CPR expansion. Worthington continued on as the construction superintendent for the CPR past Bonfield. He remained with the CPR for about a year after which he left the company. McIntyre was uncle to John Ferguson who staked out future North Bay and who became the town’s wealthiest inhabitant and mayor for four successive terms.
It was presumed 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 via Kicking Horse Pass and down the Field Hill to the Rocky Mountain Trench. This route was more direct and closer to the Canada–US 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 was that the CPR would need to find a route through the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia while, 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 discovered the pass in April 1881 and, true to its word, the CPR named it “Rogers Pass” and gave him the cheque. However, he at first refused to cash it, preferring to frame it, 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 in Alberta that was 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, at the Alberta-British Columbia border on the continental divide. In the first 6 km (3.7 mi) west of the 1,625 metres (5,331 feet) high summit, the Kicking Horse River drops 350 metres (1,150 feet). The steep drop would force the cash-strapped CPR to build a 7 km (4.3 mi) long stretch of track with a very steep 41⁄2 percent 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 two-percent 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 including the first locomotive, which belonged to the contractors, to descend the line. 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 mi) of main line built in 1882. Floods delayed the start of the construction season, but over 672 km (418 mi) of main line, as well as 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 railway 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 kilometres (five 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, government contractors eventually hired 17000 workers from China, known as “coolies”. A navvy received between $1 and $2.50 per day, but had to pay for his own food, clothing, transport to the job site, mail and medical care. After 21⁄2 months of hard labour, they could net as little as $16. Chinese labourers in British Columbia made only between 75 cents and $1.25 a day, paid in rice mats, and not including expenses, leaving barely anything to send home. They did the most dangerous construction jobs, such as working with explosives to clear tunnels through rock. The exact number of Chinese workers who died is unknown but historians estimate the number is between 600 and 800. The victims of sickness and accidents were not given proper funerals. Most of the remains were buried into the railway and 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, although Chinese labour contractors had promised that as part of their responsibilities. Many spent years in isolated 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 twelve years old served as tea-boys. In 2006, the Canadian government issued a formal apology to the Chinese population in Canada for their treatment both during and following the construction of the CPR.
By 1883, railway construction was progressing rapidly, but the CPR was in danger of running out of funds. In response, on 31 January 1884, the government passed the Railway Relief Bill, providing a further $22.5 million in loans to the CPR. The bill received royal assent on 6 March 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, Saskatchewan (Assiniboia) in 10 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 quickly suppressed. Perhaps because the government was grateful for this service, they subsequently reorganized the CPR’s debt and provided a further $5 million loan. This money was desperately needed by the CPR. However, this government loan later became controversial. Even with Van Horne’s support with moving troops to Qu’Appelle, the government still delayed in giving its support to CPR. This was due to Sir John A. Macdonald putting pressure on George Stephen for additional benefits. Stephen himself later did admit to spending $1 million between 1881 and 1886 to ensure government support. This money went to buying a £40,000 necklace for Lady MacDonald and numerous other “bonifications” to government members.
On 7 November 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 and 5,000 horses to construct the Lake section alone.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Canada, the CPR had created a network of lines reaching from Quebec City to St. Thomas, Ontario, by 1885 (mainly by buying the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa & Occidental Railway from the Quebec government), 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 5 May 1884) to connect these acquisitions. The CPR obtained a 999-year lease on the O&Q on 4 January 1884. In 1895, it acquired a minority interest in the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway, giving it a link to New York and the Northeast United States.
The last spike in the CPR was driven on 7 November 1885, by one of its directors, Donald Smith.
The first transcontinental passenger train departed from Montreal’s Dalhousie Station, located at Berri Street and Notre Dame Street at 8 pm on 28 June 1886, and arrived at Port Moody at noon on 4 July 1886. This train consisted of two baggage cars, a mail car, one second-class coach, two immigrant sleepers, two first-class coaches, two sleeping cars and a diner (several dining cars were used throughout the journey, as they were removed from the train during the night, with another one added the next morning).
By that time, however, the CPR had decided to move its western terminus from Port Moody to Granville, which was renamed “Vancouver” later that year. The first official train destined for Vancouver arrived on 23 May 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 Canada–US border at Windsor, Ontario. That line opened on 12 June 1890.
The CPR also leased the New Brunswick Railway in 1891 for 991 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 in Canada 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 the First World War, 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 18 June 1898, and followed a complicated route through the maze of valleys and passes in southern British Columbia, rejoining the original mainline at Hope after crossing the Cascade Mountains via Coquihalla Pass.
The Southern Mainline, generally known as the Kettle Valley Railway in British Columbia, was built in response to the booming mining and smelting economy in southern British Columbia, and the tendency of the local geography to encourage and enable easier access from neighbouring US states than from Vancouver or the rest of Canada, which was viewed to be as much of a threat to national security as it was to the province’s control of its own resources. The local passenger service was re-routed to this new southerly line, which connected numerous emergent small cities across the region. Independent railways and subsidiaries that were eventually merged into the CPR in connection with this route were the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway, the Kaslo and Slocan Railway, the Columbia and Kootenay Railway, the Columbia and Western Railway and various others.
The CPR had built a railway that operated mostly in the wilderness. The usefulness of the prairies was questionable in the minds of many. Others thought that the prairies had great potential. Under the initial contract with the Canadian government to build the railway, the CPR was granted 25 million acres (100,000 km2). Proving itself 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 but required cultivation. To transport immigrants, Canadian Pacific developed a fleet of over a thousand Colonist cars, low-budget sleeper cars designed to transport immigrant families from eastern Canadian seaports to the west (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
What do you call a CPR train loaded with bubble gum? A chew-chew train.
Second, a Song:
The Canadian Pacific Railway – 1920s Across Canada by Train, All ABOARD!
Historical archival footage of the places and highlights of one of the greatest train journeys in the world, a trip across Canada from sea to sea on the Trans-Canada Limited, Canada’s fastest transcontinental train.
The Trans-Canada Limited was considered as one of the world’s finest trains in its time. The concept of this train was that of a de luxe ‘Hotel-on-Wheels.’ It was the world’s longest-distance all-first-class sleeper train, with the fastest time across the North American continent from one ocean to the other.
The Trans-Canada Limited was operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was inaugurated in 1919, just after World War I, and lasted until 1930.
As a result of the economic depression following the great Stock Market Crash of October 1929, it was cancelled in 1931. As with any other CPR passenger train, the equipment used was the very best available, yet in June of 1929 the whole train was completely re-outfitted with 10 brand new sets of cars – each set costing in excess of one million dollars.
This early travelogue documents travel across Canada by rail, introducing major cities and places of interest. Traveling over 3,600 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific takes five days by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The journey starts in Saint John, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. Highlights of the trip are: Algonquin Hotel and salmon fishing. Onwards to Quebec City, which is the oldest city in North America where the Chateau Frontenac Hotel towers over the St Lawrence.
The next stop is Montreal, Canadian Pacific headquarters and the start of the Trans-Canada Limited. Onwards to Ottawa, the capital of the nation. Following this is Toronto, the Queen City, followed by Niagara Falls and images of the French River and Georgian Bay. Canadian Pacific steamers carry passengers across the Great Lakes to Port Arthur where the train resumes travel to Winnipeg and across the prairies through Regina and Saskatoon. Eventually the train arrives at Calgary and then goes to Banff and Lake Louise, which are located in the Canadian Rockies. After traveling through the Rockies the train ends in Vancouver where English Bay and Stanley Park are located.
Source footage: The National Archives of Canada (per Youtube.com)
Here is The Canadian Pacific Railway – 1920s Across Canada by Train, All ABOARD! I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“Success is about dedication. You may not be where you want to be or do what you want to do when you’re on the journey. But you’ve got to be willing to have vision and foresight that leads you to an incredible end.” – Usher
Dr. Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada writes in response to the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Smile:
“Coronation chicken is lovely on a summer’s eve
Dr. Frank Fowlie”
Further to Frank’s suggestion, here is a recipe for Coronation Chicken from BBC Good Food:
6 tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 tsp mild curry powder, to taste
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp mango chutney
1-3 tbsp sultanas, or to taste
500g shredded cooked chicken
Mix the mayo, curry powder, cinnamon, chutney and sultanas together and season with black pepper.
Add the shredded chicken and stir to coat in the sauce. Stir in 2 tbsp water to loosen if needed, then season and serve as desired.
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky