Beautifully engraved scarce certificate from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company
in 1926. This historic document was printed by the British American Bank Note Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of a train at a station. There are also orange Amsterdam Tax Stamps imprinted on the certificate. This item is hand signed by the Company's Registrar and Secretary and is
over 79 years old.
The construction of a railroad crossing the continent in Canadian territory was one of the conditions on which British Columbia entered the confederation in 1871. After many difficulties and a political scandal, intensive work began in 1880. The main line from Montreal to the Pacific coast was completed in 1885. The company subsequently developed into a conglomerate, Canadian Pacific Ltd., with holdings encompassing shipping, petroleum, coal, and hotels and real estate in addition to rail lines.
Prime Minister John A. Macdonald championed the railway. He believed that it was crucial to the future of Canada. Without it, he believed Canada would lose its claim on the western territories to the United States, which was expanding rapidly westward.
The railway was the most important political issue of the day. Its costs, its route, its schedule were points of bitter debate. Work began in 1875 at Fort William, Ont., but it made little headway until after Macdonald regained power in 1878. Finally, in 1881, a group of Montreal financiers formed the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR). They received generous help from the government in the form of land, money, and a monopoly over rail transport between the CPR main line and the U.S. border for 20 years.
The CPR gave the task of building the longest railway in the world to a dynamic American engineer, Cornelius Van Horne. Van Horne was a brilliant organizer. In the six years before he took over, only 180 km of track had been laid. In his first year as general manager, the CPR laid almost 900 km.
Construction over the flat prairie moved about as fast as the men could drive the spikes. However, in the Canadian Shield, north of Lake Superior, crews had to blast their way with dynamite through the hard rock. In other areas whole sections of track sank into the spongy muskeg.
By 1885 the CPR was running out of money. Workers went weeks without pay and protested with a strike. Macdonald wanted to help but he could not gain enough support. During the North-West Rebellion, Van Horne seized the chance to show how important the railway was to Canada. Using the partly completed line, he rushed soldiers to the West. The rebellion was soon over and Macdonald was able to raise the needed cash.
On November 7, 1885, the line moving west met the line moving east at a small siding at Craigellachie, in the mountains of western B.C. Many of the businessmen, contractors, surveyors, and workers responsible for building the railway gathered there and Donald Smith drove the "last spike."
On June 28, 1886, the Pacific Express left Montreal. It reached Port Moody, B.C., on July 4. It was the first passenger train to travel across Canada.
The CPR expanded in the 1880s into telegraph services and hotels. It purchased ocean vessels in the 1890s and rapidly expanded its rail lines in the early 20th century. It moved into mining and organized Canadian Pacific Air Lines in 1942 (later called CP Air). In 1987 CP Air was bought by Pacific Western and the two companies became Canadian Airlines International.
Canadian Pacific Limited was a diversified operating company active in transportation, energy and hotels. The Group had five segments: CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAYS, which provided rail and intermodal freight transportation services. CP SHIPS, which was a container shipping company. PANCANADIAN PETROLEUM LTD, which produced and marketed crude oil, natural and natural gas liquids. FORDING INC, which produced metallurgical coal for the international steel industry, thermal coal for electric utilities, and also produces wollastonite and tripoli. CANADIAN PACIFIC HOTELS & RESORTS INC, which operated full service hotels, some of which are owned. Energy accounted for 49% of 2000 revenues; transportation, 46% and hotels & real estate, 5%.
In 2001, Canadian Pacific Limited reorganized into five independent public companies: PanCanadian Energy, Fording Mark Gow, Canadian Pacific Railway,
CP Ships and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.