Windsor Station, C. P. R., Peel Street

Left:Windsor Station, C.P.R., Peel Street, Montreal, QC. about 1900

Right: C.P.R. building fromthe Cathedral-Basilica of Mary Queen of the World and St. James the Greater, Montreal, QC. After Notman. Taken April 30th 2000 at 4:30 p.m.

Photographers: Left: William Notman, Right: Andrzej Maciejewski
McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


Date/Time: April 30, 2000, 4:30 p.m.

The little girl in the very centre of Notman's frame contrasts with the monumental building hiding behind the trees. I believe Notman (or in this case, probably his son) liked to make his pictures seem more “alive” by asking people to pose for him. He didn't seem to mind that this technique was strikingly obvious. After setting up the camera on the correct day I waited almost two hours for the sun to cast exactly the same shadows.
Date/Time: April 30, 2000, 4:30 p.m.

The little girl in the very centre of Notman's frame contrasts with the monumental building hiding behind the trees. I believe Notman (or in this case, probably his son) liked to make his pictures seem more “alive” by asking people to pose for him. He didn't seem to mind that this technique was strikingly obvious. After setting up the camera on the correct day I waited almost two hours for the sun to cast exactly the same shadows.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Map

This Map of Montreal depicts the location where the photographs by Notman and Maciejewski were taken.

McCord Museum of Canadian History

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.


The railway was in the 19th century what computers are in the 21th century. It transformed relations with time and space. It left its mark on the collective imagination and mobilized private and public capital.

In 1900, the Canadian Pacific was the main Canadian railway company and one of the most powerful businesses in the country. It was in Montreal, the rail metropolis of Canada, that the company had its most imposing station built, which would also be its head office. Recognized as an architectural jewel, Windsor Station was the point of departure for the South and the West. Every day, thousands of travellers passed through the main concourse of the station: families of immigrants from the Ukraine or from Liverpool, Finnish or Italian workers, citizens heading back to their home towns, tourists drawn by the splendour of the Rockies.

The Canadian Pacific knew how to adapt its service to all clienteles and all budgets. The train may have reduced the distances between places, but it did not abolish social gaps.
The railway was in the 19th century what computers are in the 21th century. It transformed relations with time and space. It left its mark on the collective imagination and mobilized private and public capital.

In 1900, the Canadian Pacific was the main Canadian railway company and one of the most powerful businesses in the country. It was in Montreal, the rail metropolis of Canada, that the company had its most imposing station built, which would also be its head office. Recognized as an architectural jewel, Windsor Station was the point of departure for the South and the West. Every day, thousands of travellers passed through the main concourse of the station: families of immigrants from the Ukraine or from Liverpool, Finnish or Italian workers, citizens heading back to their home towns, tourists drawn by the splendour of the Rockies.

The Canadian Pacific knew how to adapt its service to all clienteles and all budgets. The train may have reduced the distances between places, but it did not abolish social gaps.
Printed Documents
  • Gournay, Isabelle, and France van Laethem (ed.). 1998. Montréal Métropole : 1880-1930. Montreal : Éditions du Boréal; Canadian Centre for Architecture.
  • Kalman, Harold. 1968. The Railway Hotels and the Development of the Château Style in Canada. Victoria (C. B.) : University of Victoria, Maltwood Museum.
  • Kalman, Harold. 1994. « The Railway and the Opening of the West ». In A History of Canadian Architecture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Sleeping Car

Since the completion of the transcontinental railway, thousands of immigrants had taken the Canadian Pacific to go to the Canadian West. They travelled for days on end in these crude rail cars, whole families crammed together on wooden benches. The more daring ones would sleep hanging over the heads of the other passengers.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1884
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
VIEW-1508
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Parlour Car

To meet the expectations of first-class passengers, the Canadian Pacific offered parlour cars with well-stuffed seats that could be moved as conversations demanded. These cars were often subdivided into sections or compartments. Mr. Yates and his friends could thus have more privacy and avoid contact with people of more modest means.

Wm. Notman & Son
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
c. 1892
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
20 x 25 cm
II-97019
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


The iron empire.

The rich and powerful Canadien Pacific Railway Company owns train stations, hotels and ships in every corner of the country. Pictures of these can even be found on the playing cards distributed by the company, which is much concerned with publicity. The CPR has hired a huge number of employees. When the tracks were being laid, workers of different nationalities, including numerous Chinese, pooled their strength to open the way for a transcontinental system. The driving of the last spike, the ceremony that marked the end of construction, has been immortalized in a famous photograph.
The iron empire.

The rich and powerful Canadien Pacific Railway Company owns train stations, hotels and ships in every corner of the country. Pictures of these can even be found on the playing cards distributed by the company, which is much concerned with publicity. The CPR has hired a huge number of employees. When the tracks were being laid, workers of different nationalities, including numerous Chinese, pooled their strength to open the way for a transcontinental system. The driving of the last spike, the ceremony that marked the end of construction, has been immortalized in a famous photograph.

© 2002, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Donald Smith

Donald Smith, William Van Horne, Thomas Shaughnessy and George Stephen, in the photograph, were among the financiers who staked a good part of their personal fortunes or their reputations on the railway venture.

Alexander Ross
McCord Museum of Canadian History - Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
c. 1885
Silver salts and transparent ink on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 10 cm
MP-0000.25.971
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


On the morning of November 7, 1885, the Honourable Donald Smith, of Canadian Pacific Railway, drove the last spike on the track of the country’s first transcontinental railway line.

This simple ceremony took place in Craigellachie, British Columbia. Several CP dignitaries had just arrived in official railway carriages. They were surrounded by track gangs who, at dawn, had laid the rails to complete the last mile of track. Once the symbolic spike had been driven, CPR manager William Van Horne pronounced these words: "All I can say is that the work has been well done in every way."

After the customary congratulations, the dignitaries continued on to Port Moody, BC, the westernmost point on the line. A huge construction project had come to an end: for almost five years, it had mobilized thousands, including railway engineers, surveyors and work gangs.
On the morning of November 7, 1885, the Honourable Donald Smith, of Canadian Pacific Railway, drove the last spike on the track of the country’s first transcontinental railway line.

This simple ceremony took place in Craigellachie, British Columbia. Several CP dignitaries had just arrived in official railway carriages. They were surrounded by track gangs who, at dawn, had laid the rails to complete the last mile of track. Once the symbolic spike had been driven, CPR manager William Van Horne pronounced these words: "All I can say is that the work has been well done in every way."

After the customary congratulations, the dignitaries continued on to Port Moody, BC, the westernmost point on the line. A huge construction project had come to an end: for almost five years, it had mobilized thousands, including railway engineers, surveyors and work gangs.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Chinese Work Gang

The Chinese workers were organized into gangs of 30; each gang also had a cook, a cook's helper and a third man, in charge of payroll.

McCord Museum of Canadian History
c. 1889
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
VIEW-2117
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Faced with a shortage of labour to build CPR’s transcontinental line, management recruited workers in China, especially the province of Canton.

Between 1881 and 1884, approximately 10,000 Chinese men arrived in Canada. Their goal was to save up enough money to be able to go home and buy their financial independence. Yet, as the 1891 census indicates, some 5,000 Chinese labourers were unable to return home when their contracts expired.

Conditions for railway construction workers were harsh. In all weather, Chinese work gang members and those of other nationalities had to lay track across very rugged or swampy terrain. Many had to dynamite huge rocks with nitroglycerine, a highly unstable and dangerous chemical. Entire gangs lost their lives.

Nevertheless, the workers managed to finish laying the track in under five years.
Faced with a shortage of labour to build CPR’s transcontinental line, management recruited workers in China, especially the province of Canton.

Between 1881 and 1884, approximately 10,000 Chinese men arrived in Canada. Their goal was to save up enough money to be able to go home and buy their financial independence. Yet, as the 1891 census indicates, some 5,000 Chinese labourers were unable to return home when their contracts expired.

Conditions for railway construction workers were harsh. In all weather, Chinese work gang members and those of other nationalities had to lay track across very rugged or swampy terrain. Many had to dynamite huge rocks with nitroglycerine, a highly unstable and dangerous chemical. Entire gangs lost their lives.

Nevertheless, the workers managed to finish laying the track in under five years.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Picturesque Canada Set of Playing Cards

On the back of each card is a colour photograph of Mount Sir Donald in the Rockies. The other side shows scenes of the Canadian provinces.

McCord Museum of Canadian History

9 x 7 cm
MP-0000.1780.1-55
© McCord Museum of Canadian History


Various Canadian tourist attractions are shown on this souvenir pack of playing cards produced by Canadian Pacific Railway.

Starting in the late 19th century, the publication of a series of magnificently illustrated promotional items taught Canadians and foreigners alike about the Canadian West, now accessible by the CPR line. The majestic landscapes and many points of interest along the route from east to west were featured.

Canadian Pacific helped set up a tourism infrastructure. CPR established a chain of elegant hotels, including the Banff Springs Hotel (1886-88) and the Château Frontenac in Quebec City (1892-93), designed to look like a castle. To attract first-class travellers, the company emphasized comfort and Canada's natural beauty.
Various Canadian tourist attractions are shown on this souvenir pack of playing cards produced by Canadian Pacific Railway.

Starting in the late 19th century, the publication of a series of magnificently illustrated promotional items taught Canadians and foreigners alike about the Canadian West, now accessible by the CPR line. The majestic landscapes and many points of interest along the route from east to west were featured.

Canadian Pacific helped set up a tourism infrastructure. CPR established a chain of elegant hotels, including the Banff Springs Hotel (1886-88) and the Château Frontenac in Quebec City (1892-93), designed to look like a castle. To attract first-class travellers, the company emphasized comfort and Canada's natural beauty.

© McCord Museum of Canadian History

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify the changes that were operated within Canadian society over two decades (territory, population, economy, etc.);
  • Describe in details changes that he/she is able to observe;
  • Explain and speculate about the reasons that could justify these changes;
  • Make connections between the differences and similarities of the two eras.

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