CPR and CNR Bridges Over the Fraser River,
Leonard Frank, 192-. VPL 8373B
The Canadian Pacific Railway Collection comprises images depicting the history of the CPR in British Columbia. These images provide a fascinating insight into the role of the railway in the development of the province. The pictures portray rural and urban railway stations; railway bridges that are true engineering feats reaching out across the challenging topography of the province; the workers who laid the tracks and manned the locomotives; the passengers who travelled on the railway; and a myriad of buildings, hotels, yards and ships, all of which were part of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia. The pictures were captured by various photographers and they range in date from the 1880s to the 1950s.
Approximately 1,500 images from this collection are now digitized and available for searching online.
The history of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in British Columbia began with the union of the Colony of British Columbia and the Dominion of Canada. The terms of union called for the "construction of a railway from the Pacific towards the Rocky Mountains and from such a point as may be selected, east of the Rocky Mountains toward the Pacific, to connect the seaboard of British Columbia with the railway system of Canada"
The Canadian Pacific Railway Collection is a thematic collection of photographs by a number of different photographers, and they range in date from the 1880s to the 1950s. The photographers in the collection include:
Born in Bristol, England in 1866, Caple moved to Vancouver it is thought in 1888. He formed a partnership with R.H. Trueman and established a photograph business in Vancouver by 1890. This partnership was dissolved in 1893 and Caple set up on his own, supplementing his photographic income with a stationery supply business. Caple maintained his own business until 1897. He died in Vancouver in 1911.
Devine, Harry Torkington
Born in Manchester England in 1865, H.T. Devine came to Vancouver in 1886 by way of Brandon, Manitoba where he worked for a few years as a photographer. In Vancouver he set up shop with a partner, J.A. Brock, but by 1889 he had stopped working as a photographer. He returned to photography for a short period between 1895 and 1897. Devine's photographs give a fascinating glimpse of early Vancouver, and we are lucky to have a number of them in the VPL Collection. We have about 10 of his photographs of the early days of the CPR in Vancouver, including an image of the first passenger train to arrive in Vancouver in 1887. H.T. Devine died in Vancouver in 1938.
Leonard Frank, the son of one of Germany's earliest professional photographers, was born in Berne, Germany in 1870. In 1892 he was struck with gold fever and emigrated to San Francisco, moving to Alberni on Vancouver Island two years later intending to prospect for gold. Frank never discovered gold, but by chance won a raffle prize of a camera which sparked his lifelong passion. While managing a general store and continuing to prospect, Frank took pictures of the surrounding country until photography became his chosen profession. In 1917, Frank moved to Vancouver and quickly became the leading commercial / industrial photographer in the city. He was frequently commissioned as a photographer for both the provincial and federal governments, as well as being the official photographer for the Vancouver Board of Trade. Frank was an associate member of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, the first in Vancouver to receive the coveted award. Frank died in Vancouver in 1944. See also the Leonard Frank Collection.
Heckman, Joseph W.
Heckman was hired by the CPR as a civil engineer around 1881. His interest in photography led him to undertake extensive photographic tours and from about 1898 to 1916 Heckman set out during the summer months to photograph virtually every station and structure on the line. His background in civil engineering was evident in the 11 meticulous field books he kept of his "Photographic Survey - Canadian Pacific Railway Engineering Works". The books included date, time, camera aperture, number of exposures, plate number, mileage and location of each photo. Heckman often incorporated railway sectionmen, station agents and their families in the photographs, adding life to otherwise cold and static structures. Remarkable contact prints from his 8x10 glass negatives remain bound in heavy annotated albums in the CPR Archives. His technical skills are evident in the sharp and detailed photos. Heckman's photographs are an important record of long-forgotten stations and structures and remain a comprehensive photographic record of CPR beginnings.
In 1929, Nicholas Morant joined the ranks of CPR's Winnipeg press bureau. He left the company briefly to pursue his passion of photography with the Winnipeg Free Press. He rejoined CPR in 1937, this time with the title of 'special photographer'. This title allowed him the latitude to "make" the sort of photographs he liked best. For more than 50 years, Morant crossed the country on assignment for CPR. He had the remarkable ability to blur the distinction between an industrial photo and that of a fine-art photograph. Through the years, Morant's photographs have also appeared in Time, Look, Life, the Saturday Evening Post and the National Geographic magazines. His photos have been used on the backs of $10, $50 and $100 Canadian bills. During the Second World War he was on loan to the Department of Wartime Information. From the late 1930s until his retirement in 1981 Morant documented, with unparalleled ability, the changing face of the railway and Canada. For information on viewing or ordering the more than 9,000 black and white and 3,000 colour photographs by Morant see the The Canadian Pacific Railway History Page.
Notman, William McFarlane
Born in 1857, the son of the famous Montreal-based photographer, William Notman, he made several trips to Western Canada. W.M. Notman's first trip was at the age of 26 when he came out to photograph portions of the Canadian Pacific Railway. His father had arranged with William Van Horne (president of the CPR) that in return for free transportation to any point on the line, Notman would make available to the CPR prints of the photographs he had taken. The CPR would use these for advertising and Notman would retain the negatives and copyright and would be permitted to sell the photographs on the trains, and at the stations and hotels along the railway line. It was during his second trip out in 1887, arranged along the same lines as the first trip, that Notman photographed British Columbia extensively. Notman made several other visits to British Columbia in the early 1900s. He died in Montreal in 1913. For further information on William Notman, Senior, and his family, including William McFarlane Notman see: The Notman Photographic Archives.
Born in Toronto in 1874, the son of pioneer music printers who emigrated from London, England, Philip Timms lived to one month short of his 99th birthday having lived a long life filled with many interests and considerable accomplishments. Timms' interests varied from shopkeeper, to professional printer and commercial photographer, to amateur archaeologist, archivist and historian, to musician, vocalist, choir and band leader, projectionist, lecturer and frustrated actor. Timms was keenly interested in all the ways of life in the new frontier that was British Columbia. As a consequence, the photographic record that he left behind affords us a valuable glimpse of the province during its period of growth from a frontier outpost to a well-established centre of industry and tourism. Philip Timms was a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, as well as the official photographer for the Vancouver Museum. Timms died in Vancouver in 1973. See also the Philip Timms Collection.
Trueman, Richard Henry
Born in Brampton, Ontario in 1856, Trueman travelled west first to Brandon, Manitoba and then on to Vancouver, having formed a partnership with Norman Caple. Operating as Trueman and Caple, the duo travelled the Canadian Pacific Railway line for about a year before setting up in Vancouver. Their partnership lasted only a few years, and although Trueman continued to operate a studio in Vancouver and also in Revelstoke, he spent a lot of time travelling throughout the province and beyond. He died in Vancouver in 1911.
For further information on these and other photographers working in British Columbia during the period 1858-1950 see:
- Camera Workers: The British Columbia Photographic Directory, 1858-1950, by David Mattison
For an interesting photographic history of the portion of the railway constructed under the leadership of Andrew Onderdonk see:
- Turner, Robert D. West of the Great Divide: An Illustrated History of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia, 1880-1986. Sono Nis Press, Victoria, B.C., 1987. VPL Call #: 385.09 C22t
- Eagle, John A. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Development of Western Canada. McGill-Queen's University Press, Kingston, O.N., 1989. VPL Call #: 385.09 C22e
- McKee, Bill and Georgeen Klassen. Trail of Iron: The CPR and the Birth of the West, 1880-1930. Glenbow-Alberta Institute in association with Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, B.C., 1983. VPL Call#: 385.09 C22mk
- Lamb, William Kaye. History of the Canadian Pacific Railway. MacMillan, New York, NY, 1977. VPL Call#: 971.05 L21h
View the Canadian Pacific Railway Collection
Search this collection through the Historical Photographs Database of the Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections Department.
All photographs in the database are available for purchase, and digital reproductions can be ordered from the Special Collections Department at the Vancouver Public Library. Visit Historical Photograph Collections for more information and to access the online order form.
Special thanks to the Canadian Pacific Railway for their generous financial support.
- Kate Russell - Supervising Librarian, Special Collections Department
- Wendy Godley - Librarian, Special Collections Department
- Andrew Martin - Librarian, Special Collections Department
- Michele Greig - Library Technician II, Newspapers & Magazines Department
- Kim McCarthy - Library Technician II, Special Collections Department
- John Alexander - Library Technician, VPL
- Melina Bowden - Information Assistant, VPL
- Jon Whipple MGDC - Graphics Technician - Web, Virtual Library
The Canadian Pacific Railway Collection, is a wonderful addition to the Vancouver Public Library's growing collection of digitized photographs. The VPL's Special Collections department began digitizing selected historical photographs in June 2000 with the Leonard Frank Collection followed by: Madeline Gunterman Collection; Philip Timms Collection; and the Artray Collection. Inmagic DB/Textworks and Web Publisher software was used to facilitate searching and displaying the scanned photographic records on the World Wide Web.
Creation of this rich, new, digital collection will serve to:
- protect the collection because it will be available electronically, thereby reducing the handling of the original images;
- represent the collection by raising researchers' awareness of the historical photograph collection and by heightening awareness of the significance and value of the collection to the wider community
- Seanix P3 600, 512MB RAM, 13 GB HD, CD-RW, Windows '98
- ViewSonic G810 22 inch CRT
- Microtek ScanMaker III
- Wacom Graphics Tablet
- Scanwizard Image Acquisition Software
- Adobe Photoshop 5.5
- Adaptec Easy CD Creator 4
- InMagic DB\Textworks 6.01, Web Publisher 4.03
- FireFox 1.0.2
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0.2
- Macromedia Homesite 5
Before image scanning and data entry into the electronic database could begin, a system was created to inventory all manifestations of each image in the Canadian Pacific Railway Collection. A logbook was created (listing negatives: glass plate, film base, copy and source, and display prints: copy and source) from which the data was interpreted and then entered into the InMagic database. This data was merged with all additional information from the Special Collections Department photograph accession records and historic photograph index shelflist, thereby enhancing the descriptive information for every image. The entire inventorying process was highly labour intensive, in part because of the need to gather and organize information found in handwritten and index card format, in preparation for transferring it to electronic form.
After the text was entered, the source images were removed from the Special Collections historical photographs vault and were checked against the accompanying text. Once this step was completed, scanning of the photographs commenced, with each image scanned in greyscale to a minimum of 300dpi. The scans were saved as TIFFs and burned to CD-ROM for archival storage. The TIFFs were then used as the source for the creation of JPEGs in two sizes at 72dpi suitable for displaying on the website.