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Friday, June 21, 2013

Foreshadowing the Future

There is no train on this post card; at least, I can’t see one. But it is a picture of a gigantic celebration of an event involving a train. This is the inauguration of the first train coming into Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This was an event worthy of celebrating. Since 1891, Edmonton’s neighbouring city to the south, Strathcona, had had its own train station and the end of the train line. The Calgary & Edmonton Railway had been stopping in Strathcona, on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River for over 10 years.

It wasn’t until 1902 that a train actually entered into Edmonton. This train was owned by the Edmonton, Yukon & Pacific. It was simply a connecting railway between the C & E Railway and the city of Edmonton. The route went down what is now the Mill Creek Ravine's walking and bicycling path and went across the Low Level Bridge into Edmonton. My last blog had some information about the train and the Low Level Bridge.

Three years later, on November 24, 1905 the Canadian Northern Railway (CNoR) entered Edmonton from the east. That is what they are celebrating on the front of this post card. The entrance of the CNoR into Edmonton.

This post card is foreshadowing the future because the call letters they are using for the Canadian Northern Railway are CNR, of which the CNoR will eventually become a part.

The CNoR eventually owned a transcontinental line between Quebec City and Vancouver via Edmonton. It began as a consolidation of several branch lines around the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) in Manitoba. Two men purchased the shares of all of these lines and established the CNoR in 1899. CNoR's first step toward competing directly with CPR came at the start of the 20th century with the decision to build a line linking the Prairie Provinces with Lake Superior at the harbour in Port Arthur-Fort William (what we know today as Thunder Bay, Ontario) which would permit the shipping of western grain to European markets as well as the transport of eastern Canadian goods to the West. The last spike of the CNoR transcontinental railway was driven January 23, 1915, at Basque, British Columbia.

Unfortunately, along with several other railway lines, the CNoR came upon hard financial times. At first it was absorbed into the Canadian Government Railways (1918) and then into the railway, which is today called the Canadian National Railway in 1923.

This post card was mailed on May 22, 1907 – that makes the card over 106 years old - about a year and half after the celebration depicted on the front of the post card. It was published by the Edmonton Music Company and, like many cards of this time, it was printed in Germany. The message on the back is from a brother to his sister:
“Dear Sister, I guess you will be surprised to hear of me being up here. Will write in a day or so and give you all the news. As ever, your Loving Bro.”

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If you know anything about the history of the cards, the trains or the locations, please add them.