Saturday, 27 April 2013

50 Years Ago

50 years ago already?

Let's take a look inside at some of the more unusual but usually overlooked stuff.

Front cover of CPR's summer 1963 system time tables. Today the Canadian no longer stops in Banff. Note Canada's former flag on the pole

Although CPR wanted to discontinue their premier train, "The Canadian" really was a first class act right up until the day Via Rail took over responsibility for running the train. 50 years later a transcontinental passenger train using the same name and the same original CPR equipment operates under Via Rail. The train no longer originates in Montreal, travels almost exclusively over CNR track and departures are down to two days per week in each direction. Still worth the trip if you can afford the fares today.

With the arrival of what was then known as Chargex (now Visa) and Master Card, Canadian Pacific quietly exited their credit card business. This is probably one business that Canadian Pacific may have exited too soon. Today, credit cards are the money-making machines for many corporations. When I was employed with Canadian Pacific I applied for their credit card and was turned down. The reason given was that I did not earn enough to meet their credit requirements. Armed with that rejection letter I approached my boss and asked for a raise. He just laughed.

New Symbol? This advertisement is the only place I ever remember seeing this symbol. Canadian Pacific Telecommunications soon became CN-CP Telecommunications, later becoming Unitel Communications Inc., later still acquired by AT&T Canada and now known as MTS Allstream.

Canadian Pacific Airlines became CP Air in 1968. Where on earth was I going? CP Air was still around in 1980 when I flew to Tokyo on my way to Indonesia to meet and marry Kie. In 1980 CP Air and Japan Airlines offered one-fare through ticketing from Montreal to Jakarta. Air Canada was not in the Asian market then. In hindsight though, Canadian Pacific made a wise business decision when they exited the airline business.

In the latter 1960's with the loss of passenger trains. the demise of less-than-carload rail freight service and the closings of most railway stations, CP Express travellers quietly vanished as well. Today: when was the last time you bought travellers cheques and used them? Credit cards first and later debit cars have all but killed off the need for travellers cheques.

During the period of calmer seas on the North Atlantic Ocean from late spring through early fall. Canadian Pacific Steamships provided a weekly scheduled ocean-going passenger service between Montreal and England. This service lasted though 1967.

During the summer navigation season, a Great Lakes cruise combined with a rail journey across Canada was a standard, regularly scheduled Canadian Pacific Railway offering.

Another look at a CPR "Inland Sea" cruise advertisement.

The front cover of CNR's summer 1963 system time tables. That enduring and ageless, famous and remarkable corporate symbol is unchanged 50 years later. The railway has constantly changed but the iconic CN noodle remains today. This photo looks as if it could have been taken last summer.

Inside front cover: first appearance of this calendar. Introduced six months earlier for travel between Montreal and Atlantic Canada,

Try getting this type of fare pricing from Via Rail today: "There are further big savings if two or more occupy the same sleeping accommodation."

CNR's popular Red, White and Blue days fare-pricing was about to expand after getting off to a successful start. CP Rail eventually tried the same fare pricing concept almost a decade later using white, gray, black days.

The names may have changed and the owners may have changed but the great hotels are still great places to stay; and for most listed above, you can still get there by train fifty years later.

In summer 1963 no less than 15 ocean carriers continued to offer passenger services between Canada and Europe. Fifty years later a few of the lines named above continue to operate as ocean carriers today.

Recognize this airline? TCA is still around today operating under the name Air Canada. Summer 1963 was probably the golden age for air travel. Boarding an aircraft in that era was as easy as boarding a train or a bus. Hi-jackings were unheard of and airport security almost non-existent; it simply was not needed. The world has certainly changed over the last 50 years.

Fifty years later cruises to Alaska are more popular than ever but today neither CNR nor CPR are in the cruise business.

The Oddblock Station Agent