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Canadian Pacific Express Company


Embroidered emblem

Driver George Lotto age 28 sits on delivery truck at 565 Annette Street in West Toronto. March 25, 1929.
West Toronto Junction Historical Society Archives

W.C.Van Horne decided from the very beginning that the CPR would retain as much revenue from its various operations as it could rather than letting others grab it. This translated into keeping express, telegraph, sleeping car and other lines of business for themselves creating separate departments or companies as necessary. This was necessary for a number of reasons first, the fledgling railway would need all the income it could get and second, he saw some of these ancillary operations such as express and telegraph as being quite profitable. Others such as sleeping and dining cars were kept in order to provide better control over the quality of service being provided to passengers. Hotels were likewise crucial to the CPR's growth by attracting travellers.

Dominion Express Company was formed independently in 1873 before the CPR itself. Train service did not begin until the Summer of 1882 at which time it operated over some 300 miles of track from Rat Portage (Kenora) Ontario west to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was soon absorbed into the CPR and expanded everywhere the CPR went. It was renamed Canadian Pacific Express Company on September 1, 1926 and headquarters moved from Winnipeg, to Toronto.

Express was handled in separate cars, some with employees on board, on the headend of passenger trains to provide a fast scheduled service for which higher rates could be charged than for LCL (Less than Carload Lot), small shipments of freight which were subject to delay. Aside from all sorts of small shipments for all kinds of businesses such products as cream, butter, poultry, and eggs were handled along with fresh flowers, fish and other sea foods some handled in separate refrigerated cars. Horses and livestock along with birds and small animals including prize cattle for exhibition were carried often in special horse cars that had facilities for grooms to ride with their animals. Automobiles for individuals were also handled by express in closed boxcars. Gold and silver bullion as well as cash were carried in large amounts between the mint and banks etc. Small business money shipments and valuables such as jewellery were routinely handled in small packets. Money Orders and Travellers' cheques were an important part of the express company's business and were used worldwide in the years before credit cards.

Canadian Express Cartage Department was formed in March 1937 to handle pickup and delivery of most express shipments including LCL freight. Their trucks were painted Killarney (dark) green while regular express company vehicles were painted bright red.

Express routes using highway trucks beginning in November 1945 in southern Ontario and Alberta co-ordinated rail and highway service expanded service to better serve smaller locations especially on branchlines. Trucking operations would go on to expand across Canada making it an important transportation provider for small shipments in the years before Purolator, FedEx, UPS and others came along. Deregulation in the 1980's changed everything and it was not long before all trucking services were ended even after many attempts to change with the times. CanPar was one such attempt.

Express documents

Express money orders and travellers cheques

New Method of Handling Express in Montreal.
Article 1922



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