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Transportation History

Famous Name Trains

Travelling in Style with the CPR

by (author) David Laurence Jones

Fifth House Books
Initial publish date
Jun 2006
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2006
    List Price

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Have you ever wondered, while sitting in traffic or waiting to board a crowded airplane, what it was like to travel the rails?

In his new book, Famous Name Trains: Travelling in Style with the CPR, former CPR archivist David Laurence Jones goes back in time to describe what it was like to travel on some of the CPR's famous "name trains," like the Pacific Express, the Imperial Limited, and the Canadian.

Jones evokes both the practical interiors of the early colonist cars with their communal sleeping arrangements and wooden bench seats, and the luxury of the higher-end cars that looked and felt like rolling men's clubs with wooden veneers, plush carpets, and upholstered chairs. These first-class cars would later become five-star hotels on wheels. Jones tracks the evolution of the passenger train, detailing improvements in engine strength, heating, lighting, interior design, and innovative sleeping arrangements.


Although the focus of the book is the CPR's famous name trains, Jones talks about other CPR enterprises that fed into and contributed to the railway. These included the dining halls and mountain chalets built at railway divisional points across the country, the rustic bungalow camps operated in both Ontario and within the Canadian Rockies, and the CPR's iron steamships that sailed the Great Lakes. Steamships like the Algoma, Alberta, and Athabasca provided passenger service between Owen Sound and what is now part of Thunder Bay, connecting passengers to CPR trains heading west. As the reader will find out, the steamships have their own stories to tell, both romantic and tragic.

With a Forward by Gary Anderson, director of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel.

About the author

David Laurence Jones is the former manager of internal communications at Canadian Pacific Railway. A history graduate from Concordia University, he worked for fourteen years in the railway’s corporate archives, researching and collecting stories and anecdotes about the CPR’s rich heritage. He continues to explore the history of "World's Greatest Transportation System," volunteers with the Glenbow Museum and is a member of the National Dream Legacy Society. His other books with Fifth House are Tales of the CPR, See This World Before the Next: Cruising with CPR Steamships in the Twenties and Thirties, and Famous Name Trains: Travelling in Style with the CPR. He lives in Calgary with his wife and daughter.

David Laurence Jones' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Jones, for years an archivist with the Canadian Pacific Railway, is the right man for the job: an informed fan's notes about the generations of CPR trains (the Pacific Express, the Trans-Canada Limited, the Canadian and many others). He writes easily, whether about the joy of riding the trains as a child or the patronizing attitudes experienced by black sleeping-car porters. The book is well laid out for browsing, with copious photographs, artifacts (a children's breakfast menu with cartoon beavers in circus hats) and, of course, the railway's brilliant marketing posters."
- The Globe and Mail

"Anyone remotely interested in trains should pick up a copy of David Laurence Jones's Famous Name Trains: Travelling in Style with the CPR, which is chock full of interesting anecdotes, colourful poster images and historical photos....Jones, the son of a "long-time railway man" as well as the CPR's manager of internal communications, is an ideal teller of these train tales."
-- Westworld magazine

"These magnificent, romantic trains each have their own story to tell, laying the tracks for the history of the passenger train across the country. The photographs of the trains, dining halls, sleeping cars, menus, and advertising, as well as a history of the Great Lakes steamships that connected passengers to the trains heading West, make a great holiday gift."
- Good Times (Toronto)

"The black-and-white pics and period posters are fantastic."
- Alberta Venture