Canadian Pacific RailwayThe Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) is a Canadian first class railway. It stretches from Vancouver to Montreal, but also serves Chicago and New York City.Creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was undertaken by the conservative Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The government promised to build a railway connecting east and west within 10 years. In February 1881 construction started. In November was hired the renowned railway executive William Cornelius Van Horne. He stated that he would have built 800 km of main line in 1882. By the end of 1883, the railway had reached the Rocky Mountains. Three thousand of navvies(1) worked on the railway. Many were European immigrants.
In British Columbia were also hired workers from China, nicknamed coolies. A navy received $1 per day. Their food consisted of salted ham, salted beef, syrup, oat flakes, potatoes and tea. They suffered from scorbutus, because they had no fruit. There were a lot of problems to find a suitable route for a rail, but the biggest consequence was to find a route through the Selkirk Mountains. The job of finding a pass was assigned to a surveyor Bowman Rogers. The CPR promised him, that when he will find a pass, he would get a cheque for $5000 and the pass would be named in his honour. He found the pass on May 29, 1881, CPR named the pass “Rogers Pass” and gave him the cheque. However, he did not pick up the money, saying he did not do it for money.By 1883, railway construction was progressing rapidly, but the CPR was in danger of running out of money. In response, on January 1884, the government passed the Railway Relief Bill, providing a further $22,500,000 in loans to the CPR.
In March 1885, the North-West Rebellion broke out in Saskatchewan. Van Horne suggested to the government that the CPR could transport troops to place of rebellion in 11 days. The trip was made in 9 days and the rebellion was quickly put down. Because the government was grateful for this service, they subsequently re-organized the CPR’s debt and provided a further $5,000,000 loan.On November 7, 1885, the last spike was driven in at Craigellachie, British Columbia. The greatest disadvantage of the route was in Kicking Horse Pass(2). In the first six kilometres west of 1.625-metre high summit, the Kicking Horse River dropped 350 metres. The steep drop would force the CPR to build a 7 km long provisional stretch of track with a very steep 4.5% (45m/1km) gradient. This was over four times the maximum gradient recommended for railways of this era. Even now, modern railways does not exceed 2% gradient. This section of track was the legendary Big Hill. This stretch of track was 13 km long. The first train, which had to go down the hill derailed and fell into the river. Three persons had died. Then were installed safety switches(3) to protect runaway trains. Speed was restricted to 10 km/h. It was elaborated brake testing, which was required of trains descending the hill, and special locomotives were ordered. CPR insisted to substitute the temporary track. So, there were built two Spiral Tunnels(4) to increase the length of the railway track in its ascent of the pass. The tunnels reduced the grade to 2.2% from 4.5%.
The Spiral Tunnels opened in August 1909.The next problem was avalanches. Early railroaders often worked in blizzards with temperatures dipping as low as –40 C. The avalanches and rock slides endangered them and the engines. So, in 1916 the CPR replaced its line through Rogers Pass, which was prone to avalanches, with the Connaught Tunnel, an 8 km long tunnel under Mount Macdonald that was at the time of opening the longest railway tunnel in the world. After World War II, the transportation in Canada changed. Where railways had previously provided almost universal freight and passenger services, cars, trucks and airplanes started to take traffic away from railways. This helped the CPR’s air and trucking operations and the railway’s freight operations continued to thrive. However, passenger trains quickly became unprofitable. During 1950s, the railway introduced new innovations in passenger service, and in 1955 introduced a new luxury transcontinental train - The Canadian, later The Dominion.In 1968, the name of railway was changed to CP Rail. In 1984, CP Rail began construction of the Mount Macdonald Tunnel to enlarge the Connaught Tunnel under the Selkirk Mountains. The first train passed through the tunnel in 1988. At 14.7 km, it is the longest tunnel in the Americas. School carsBetween 1926 and 1960, the CPR ran a school car to reach people who lived in Northern Ontario, far from schools.
A teacher would travel in a specially designed car to remote areas and would stay in one area for two-three days, than leave for another area. Each car had a blackboard and a few sets of chairs and desks. They also contained miniature libraries. These schools were useful in spreading education. Holiday train In 1999, the CP Rail began to operate a Holiday Train. The train celebrates the Christmas session and collects donations for community food banks. Since 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised more than 2,3 million CDN. Royal Canadian PacificOn June 7, 2000, the CP Rail inaugurated the Royal Canadian Pacific, a luxury excursion service that operates between June and September. It operates a 1,050 km long route from Calgary, through the Columbia River Valley and Crowsnest Pass, and back to Calgary. The trip takes six days and five nights. The train consists of up to eight luxury passenger cars built between 1916 and 1931 and is powered by first-generation diesel locomotives. Steam TrainIn 1998, the CP Rail repaired one of its former passenger steam locomotives that had been sold to the USA. It cost one million dollars. The formation of the Canadian Pacific Railway was voted as the second most important event in forming Canada as a country by a survey of Canadians in 2004.
- Navvy is a shorter form of the word “navigator” and is particularly applied to describe the manual labourers working on major civil engineering projects.
- Kicking Horse Pass is a mountain pass on the Alberta/British Columbia border. The pass was first explored in 1858 by the Palliser expedition led by John Palliser. The pass and the adjacent Kicking Horse River were given their names after James Hector, a naturalist, geologist and a surgeon who was a member of the expedition, was kicked by his horse while exploring the region.
- Safety switches - these switches led to short spurs with a sharp reverse upgrade.
- Spiral Tusnnel - Silver: The present-day railway line. Less steep than the original route, because of the longer distance made possible by the spiral tunnels. Red: The two spiral tunnels. Black: The old, steep route used before the building of the spiral tunnels. It is also the present-day route of the Trans-Canada Highway