Of Steel and Paper: Tales from the Canadian Pacific Archives

From June 23, 2017 to May 27, 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 credit : CRHA/Exporail, Canadian Pacific Railway Company Fonds
Construction of the Double Spiral Tunnel on the Laggan Subdivision. 1909 – ID : A.25283

This immersive exhibition is divided into seven themes and presents 210 images as well as 73 archival documents and artifacts (photos, drawings, signs, letters, posters, brochures, menus, telegrams, booklets, glass slides, field notes plans, letterbooks, reports, etc.).

A wall projection allows visitors to visualize the different periods that contributed to the expansion of the railway in the 19th century, up to the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway, including the driving of the last spike in 1885.

Five screens also project images related to the following themes:

  • immigration and colonization;
  • the military field;
  • the industry
  • communications;
  • architecture and tourism.

As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, politics is not forgotten either! With this exhibition, visitors will appreciate the dream, shared by all at the time, of bringing East and West together by rail.

This exhibition was produced by Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum. It was made possible in part by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) for the donation of its archives and financial support to the Canadian Railroad Historical Association Foundation.