Of Steel and Paper: Tales from the CP Archives

From June 23rd, 2017 to May 27th, 2018

The development of Canada is closely linked to the story of its railways. Over the years, railway companies have played a vital role in the seminal historical events that defined the nation. Canadian Pacific (CP) is without doubt one of the most important of these contributors, and CP`s archives document the words, the writings, and the actions that helped shape the country`s early growth. This exhibition offers a intriguing view into this archival world, and allows us to relive some pivotal moments from history which created the Canada we know today—a country built on rails. 

Photo: Exporail, Canadian Pacific Railway Company Fonds
Spiral Tunnel Construction on the Laggan Subdivision. 1909 - ID : A.25283

There are seven themes to this immersive exhibition, which involves 210 images and 73 archival documents and artefacts (photos, drawings, signs, letters, posters, brochures, menus, telegrams, booklets, glass negatives, maps, letter books, reports).

Wall projections will permit viewers to visualize the different phases in the 19th Century expansion of the railway network, leading to the creation of the Canadian Pacific, and notably the driving of the last spike in 1885.

Five screens will display images relating to:

  • immigration and colonization
  • the military
  • industry
  • communications
  • architecture and tourism

In this 150th anniversary year celebrating the founding of Canada, politics will certainly not be neglected!  The exhibit will give visitors an appreciation of the shared dream at that time--connecting the east to the west by means of the railway.

This exhibition has been produced by Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum.  Exporail wishes to thank CP for the generous donation of the Canadian Pacific archives, and for its ongoing financial support of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association Foundation.