Travel and Tourism with the C.P.R.

After the C.P.R. laid a railway network across Canada, equipped it with more than 2,250 locomotives, and tens of thousands of freight and passengers cars they moved into ocean travel and shipping, accumulating a fleet of 100 ships and some of the world’s finest ocean liners to become a major international cargo carrier as well as a globally recognized provider of luxurious around the world tours.

The C.P.R. recognized that after it had built the transcontinental railroad for Canada it had the opportunity to do more than transport cargo.  The “All Red Route” as it was known by sea from Europe then across Canada to the Pacific and Asia brought the British Empire within the comfortable reach for any traveler.  The C.P.R. ingeniously began to advertise the vast tracks of scenic mountain ranges and vistas that it owned as places to visit and it built company owned luxury hotels at these destinations for travelers to stay.

Cruises were all the rage in the 1920’s and 30’s among the wealthy seeking to escape the dreary winters of Europe and North America.  The most affluent were able to spend six months on a world cruise calling at eighty-one ports in twenty-three countries aboard ocean liners like the luxurious Empress of Britain. Shorter cruises took wealthy patrons to the West Indies from New York or to the Mediterranean from London.  The accommodations and service aboard cruise ships of the C.P.R surpassed even their grand hotels. First class passengers were served the finest food in elegant dining rooms and danced to orchestras in the ship’s ballroom.

In the 1950’s with the growing post-war popularity of air travel the Canadian Pacific Air Lines began to take passengers to Australia and many destinations in the Far East, South America, and Europe.  By the early 1970’s the shift from ocean to air travel was complete when the C.P.R. sold the last of their great ocean liners to another tour company.

However, thanks to the C.P.R.’s focus on advertising the “The World’s Greatest Travel System” the Chung Collection has many of the photographs, clippings, posters and related ephemera that were used to promote the railroad journey to the scenic mountain ranges near Banff, Alberta and British Columbia.  Because the C.P.R. pampered their guests on their exotic tours giving them personalized photograph albums as a memento of every port-of-call on their voyage the Chung Collection has several of these in near perfect condition.  Many of the passengers and employees kept correspondences, mementos, and related ephemera in scrapbooks that are also available in the collection along with the hundreds of photographs taken by them. 

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