Sixty years ago, Canada’s two major railways unveiled new flagship trains to modernize passenger rail travel and bring the nation into the Streamliner age. Canadian Pacific’s stainless steel transcontinental, the Canadian, was countered by Canadian National’s green, black and gold smoothside train, the Super Continental, both officially hitting the rails in April 1955.
Among their innovations: lightweight design, featuring rivet-less sides and wide sealed windows; bright, modern decor; a range of sleeping car options; and, as CPR touted in its period brochures, “the longest dome ride in the world” — extra-height cars that gave a panoramic view of the 2,881 miles of the route between Montreal and Vancouver. (The Crown corporation CNR was late to the dome game, picking up second-hand “Superdomes” from a U.S. line in the 1960s).
Today, the exciting age of the Streamliner has not been forgotten as Via Rail continues to use the classic (yet modernized) CPR cars in daily service. It’s also prominent at the Alberta Railway Museum, which features a number of locomotives and cars used in the original Super Continental. Work is well underway to restore the former CNR General Motors passenger locomotives — Nos. 6514 and 6614 — this year into their original paint scheme. The picture attached, incidentally, of CN FP9 No. 6514 was taken by Weston Langford two days after Christmas 1969, as Train No. 1, the Super Continental, passed West Junction in Edmonton in later black, grey and red paint.
A number of other activities are in the works at the museum this summer to celebrate the fabulous styles of the 1950s, from a special Streamliners photo exhibition to a classic car show and heritage transit event.
We also are thrilled to offer an exciting new contest for visitors this year — a chance to win a trip for two on Via Rail between Edmonton and Vancouver, courtesy Via Rail! The prize retails for more than $3500 and is open only to visitors of the museum. Hurry, the draw ends July 5! Make plans to experience the Stylish Streamliners at the museum and enter for the opportunity to experience the beauty and luxury of modern train travel aboard The Canadian, courtesy Via Rail Canada.