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Canadian Pacific Railway - Later Years

Canadian Pacific Railway [CPR] had been involved in land settlement and land sales as early as September 1881. The company also erected telegraph lines right alongside the main transcontinental line, transmitting its first commercial telegram in 1882. The same year also marked CPR's entry into the express shipment business, with the acquisition of the Dominion Express Company. CPR started building some of its own steam locomotives as early as 1883. And would later build its own passenger cars, making it second only on the continent to the Pullman Company of Chicago, Illinois.

CPR had steamships on the Great Lakes in 1883, chartered ships on the Pacific Ocean in 1886 and launched its own Pacific fleet in 1891. CPR got into paddle wheelers in British Columbia's interior in 1893, the B.C. coast in 1901, and the Atlantic Ocean in 1903. The company was also involved in the hotel and tourist trade as early as 1886, after Van Horne suggested setting up a national park system in the Canadian Rockies.

CPR even discovered natural gas on the Prairies, although quite by accident. In 1886, while digging a well to get water for its steam locomotives, CPR crews stumbled across natural gas in what is now Alderson, Alberta. The railway would later use the natural gas to heat and power the station and ancillary buildings.

Through its history, CPR got into numerous other ventures including abattoirs, animal husbandry, bus transportation, china and crockery, containers and pallets, forestry, foundries, immigration and colonization, insurance, irrigation, manufacturing, milling and foodstuff, mines and minerals, newsreels, oil, pulp and paper, radio broadcasts, stockyards, supply farms, trucking, waste management, even bottled spring water. In 1942, CPR even took to the skies, amalgamating 10 northern bush plane companies into Canadian Pacific Airlines.

With the outbreak of World War II, the entire Canadian Pacific network was put at the disposal of the war effort. On land, CPR moved 307 million tons of freight and 86 million passengers, including 280,000 military personnel. At sea 22 CPR ships went to war where 12 of them were sunk. In the air, CPR pioneered the "Atlantic Bridge" a massive undertaking that saw the transatlantic ferrying of bombers from Canada to Britain.

In the 1950s, CPR chief Norris R. Crump repatriated the company, putting a majority of shares back in the hands of Canadian stockholders. He also presided over complete dieselization of the company's fleet of locomotives and managed a huge expansion into non-transportation sectors, setting up Canadian Pacific Investments in 1962. By 1986, Canadian Pacific, as it became known, was Canada's second largest company with $15 billion in revenue. In addition to Canadian Pacific Railway, the company's subsidiaries included PanCanadian Energy, Fording Coal, CP (later Fairmont) Hotels and, CP Ships.

As Canadian Pacific grew and diversified, Canadian Pacific Railway began to focus again on its core business under the guidance of its chairman and C.E.O. William Stinson, a fourth-generation CPR railroader. To capitalize on its refocusing efforts CPR expanded its rail network in 1990, taking full control of the Soo Line in the U.S. Midwest a company it had a majority interest in since the 1890s. The Soo Line had already absorbed the Milwaukee Road in 1985. Three years before, in 1982, the Soo Line bought the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern (MNS). In 1991, CPR bought the bankrupt Delaware and Hudson Railway (D&H) giving it access to ports in the U.S. Northeast.

With the goal of unlocking shareholder value, Canadian Pacific spun out its five subsidiaries into separate companies on October 3, 2001. Today, Canadian Pacific Railway is a fully independent, public company with shares trading on the major stock exchanges in Toronto and New York. CPR's 14,000-mile network extends from the Port of Vancouver in the Canada's West to The Port of Montreal in Canada's East, and to the U.S. industrial centers of Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, New York City and Buffalo.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2011 19:25:42 ZULU