Collection PR-2358 - Canadian Pacific Railway Company collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Canadian Pacific Railway Company collection

General material designation

  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • technical drawing

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the collection

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  • 1880-1960; predominant 1897-1938 (Creation)
    Canadian Pacific Railway Company

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Physical description

33 cm of textual records, 100 photographs, and 52 technical drawings

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Administrative history

The company originated on October 21, 1880 when a group of Scottish Canadian businessmen formed a syndicate with the aim of constructing a transcontinental railroad. The Canadian Pacific Railway Company was incorporated on February 16, 1881, with George Stephen as its first president. The railway — completed in 1885 — connected Eastern Canada to BC and facilitated communications and transportation across the country. In the late 1890s the CPR established its presence in BC's southern interior, with its rail link through the Crowsnest Pass from Alberta. In 1896–97 the CPR purchased the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company’s fleet of inland sternwheelers, tugs and barges, based in Nelson. The CPR developed this into their BC Lake and River Service – and expanded their fleet in the BC interior, with vessels and barges working on Kootenay, Trout, Slocan, Arrow and Okanagan lakes, and boatbuilding and repair facilities at Nelson, Rosebery, Nakusp and Okanagan Landing. In 1901 the CPR purchased controlling interest in the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company (CPN) and its ships. Formal transfer took place in 1903, and the CPR began operating its BC Coast Steamship Service (BCCSS) -- which served the transportation and shipping needs of the coast of B.C. with its "Princess" line, built into a fleet of thirty-two ships. It operated passenger services until the 1970's.

Custodial history

The custodial history of the records is in doubt. Some records were in the custody of and donated by individuals unrelated to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company

Scope and content

The collection consists of records created by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in the process of carrying out activities which include the registration of its ships, the promotion of its travel and tourist facilities, and the operation of its mechanical department.

Although the records were created by the CPR, most had been in the custody of (and were donated by) individuals who were unrelated to the CPR. The records were assembled into a collection by BC Archives.

Types of records include correspondence, photographs, technical drawings (blueprints of equipment), and legal and government records in support of the registration of ships and other vessels.

The collection includes of 18 “Registration of Shipping” dossiers containing documents dating from ca. 1897 to 1938 regarding the registration of vessels related to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (some refer to the CPR’s British Columbia Lake and River Service). The records relate to vessels built for, operated by, and sold or scrapped by the CPR. Arranged by ship name, they include vessels sailing coastal and inland B.C. waters, most of which were registered at the Port of Vancouver. The records include but are not limited to: correspondence, builder’s certificates, certificate of survey (under the Merchant Shipping Act 1854], applications for registry, declarations of ownership, declarations of the transfer of registry from one port to another, declarations of assets, bills of sale, and notice of name proposed for a British ship. The BC Archives accession file describes these records as the CPR’s copies; however, this provenance is doubtful. The correspondence is addressed to a government office (the Registration of Shipping office, Customs and Excise Department) and is stamped as received incoming letters. It appears the provenance is the government office and not the CPR. The records were acquired by the writer and editor Edward L. Affleck, were in his custody for an unknown length of time, and donated to BC Archives by him in 1989.

The collection also consists of an album of 53 black and white photographs, ca. 1920-1930, which includes images of CPR lodges, camp facilities and cabins, tea houses, chalets and nature scenes. The photos indicate they were taken by the Brigden (or Brigdens) studio. Accompanying indexing numbers appear to be those applied by Brigden. The album contains the notation: “Property of Canadian Pacific Railway– Please return to General Passenger Department, Vancouver, B.C.

Other records include: 51 blueprints primarily from the CPR mechanical department; photographs of interiors and exteriors of CPR trains, and of various public relations and tourist-related locations in BC and Yukon; photocopies of CPR loans, agreements and contract documents; a CPR railway ticket, Pincher Creek to Victoria; and a record of payments to people made for section two of the Trunk Road for the month of May 1885.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records were acquired in multiple accessions, some from unknown sources. Known sources are identified in accession files and discussed in the scope and content note.


BC Archives has imposed an arrangement on the records. They came from diverse sources (not the creator) and were deemed to be a collection rather than an archival fonds

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Script of material

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Restrictions on access

No access restrictions apply

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Consult B.C. Archives for use, reproduction, and publication rights

Associated materials

Associated materials available at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, Nelson, B.C.
Related materials (Canadian Pacific Railway Company records) in BC Archives include: PR-1708; PR-1161; PR-1162; PR-1246; PR-2362

Related materials


No further accruals expected

General note

Accession number(s): 89-064; 90-045; 197909-003; 197909-007; 198410-020; 198110-001; 91-044; 91-047; 91-068; M889015


Document 30/1898, S.S. Sandon in folder 17 has been cleaned.

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Physical storage

  • Box: 909576-0001