The title on the upper left part of this post card is “C. G. R. Express ‘Ocean Limited’ ” Its first run from Montreal, Quebec to Halifax, Nova Scotia (1345 kilometers) was on July 3, 1904. It is said to be the longest running train service in Canada. The C. G. R. stands for the Canadian Government Railways. This was the legal name used when the federal government owned several railways that the government rescued because they were getting too close to becoming bankrupt. It was a short lived name, taken over by the now familiar Canadian National Railway which was incorporated on June 3, 1919. The Canadian Government Railways only lasted from 1915 to 1919. This is a great way to be able to date the card to having been printed between 1915 and 1919.
The back of the card tells us that this was a product of Valentine and Sons. It was printed by the Canadian office for Valentine’s of Dundee, Scotland. They published souvenir books, greeting cards and view-cards of Canadian scenery in sets numbered with a three digit prefix and a three digit suffix. You can see these on the front of the card in bottom right hand quadrant. These tinted halftone and collotype cards were printed in Great Britain. Valentine sold their Canadian branch in 1923.
It was published by the Canadian Railway News Co. That is their logo in upper right hand corner, where the stamp goes. When I first read that it was the Canadian Railway News Co., I thought immediately of the American conglomerate. The American News Company (founded in 1864) owned several subsidiaries like the Union News Company, the Colorado News Company, the St. Louis News Company, and many others. I presumed that the Canadian Railway News Company was the American News Company’s intrusion into Canada. My research told me otherwise.
In 1883, the Phelan family of Toronto began the Canada Railway News Co. to sell newspapers, magazines and confectionary to the travelling public (very similar to the American News Company). This post card was one of the items they sold.
Those of us who live in Canada are familiar with several restaurants: Swiss Chalet, and Second Cup to name two of them. This entire chain of restaurants is owned by the same company: CARA. The name Cara was derived from the first two letters of each of the words "Canada Railway”. It was this company that published this post card.
In the 1930s, Cara began offering catering services to the airlines.
By 1951 it was serving about 1,500 meals a day.
In 1961 the company changed its name to Cara Operations Limited.
Cara was owned solely by the Phelan family from its inception in 1883 until it went public in 1968.
The Phelan family has since bought back CARA’s public stock (in 2004) and, once again, made it a private company. Today it is a food service giant with $1.1-billion in annual sales and the owner of such restaurant brands as Harvey's, Second Cup, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey's and Montana's — as well as the in-flight caterer to Air Canada.