Wednesday, 22 July 2015

America's Largest Railway, Part 1 - Passengers

Cover: America's Largest Railway, 1950, Canadian National Railways. Collection of LC Gagnon

In 1950, when this pamphlet was obtained by my father, the Second World War had been over for about 5 years, and Newfoundland had just joined Canadian Confederation during the previous year. 

The government-owned transportation system had inherited and developed many different transportation modes and services and this booklet described most of them. As well, the history of the crown corporation was outlined in a couple of short write-ups.

This first post of a series will deal mainly with passenger-related services ...

The history mentioned above appears at the end of this post.

This highly staged 'hooping up' of train orders 'on the fly' included an operator with very shiny shoes. The second set of orders for the conductor in the operator's left hand seems to be crimped into a wire coat hanger. Generally, a similar wooden hoop with a shorter handle would have been used. Unfortunately the locomotive's running gear was underexposed.

The publicly-owned transportation services of Newfoundland became the responsibility of the CNR in 1949. The vessel above is the Bar Haven - one of 14 vessels in the CNR's Newfoundland fleet. The booklet makes the point that there were few roads on the island. Most of the coastal fishing communities were reached only by ship. The racks on the shore are probably wooden fish flakes which were used to dry cod for export.

TCA later became Air Canada. It was subsequently privatized.

As usual, it looks like this stationary publicity shot was taken somewhere on Montreal's 'west island'. There seems to be some photo shop fiddling around the side of the railway post office car - immediately behind the locomotive - to denote speed. 

Welcome Traveller/Bienvenue, half-sheet pamphlet circa 1950. Collection of LC Gagnon

This bilingual pamphlet (English interior below) interprets part of the CNR's post-war passenger coach acquisition effort. Many of us can remember the metallic sound of those 'crash bars' on the doors because a good number of these coaches were passed on to VIA Rail.

Back to 'America's Largest Railway' ...

"Travel is pleasant in air-conditioned coaches of the Canadian National, with adjustable seats and wide windows."

The corridor to end of the car can be seen under the lights along the left side.
Travelling along that corridor, you would find doors to the reserved, extra-charge bedrooms along the wall on the right side of the corridor.

Anecdotally, railways often used office staff to populate the trains in their advertisements. The equipment would generally be stationary in a railway yard for the company or agency photographer to do the work. 

... High-speed intercity travel didn't lend itself to taking time exposures of carefully-posed subjects.

Here is the history mentioned earlier ...