Canadian Pacific Historical Association

Documents Library - News

The Library team would like to remind everyone that this project is only possible by you supporting the Canadian Pacific Historical Association (CPHA). If you are not a member we encourage you to support the Library by joining the CPHA. Not only will you be assisting in keeping this project going but you'll also get to enjoy our fine colour newsletter/magazine, CP TRACKS. See the main site for membership information.

Latest News

May 24 - 2021

New post of 244 documents today. Check out the Recent link to get an idea of what's in it.

If none of it interests you, don't worry, there's a lot more coming.


May 23 - 2021

The reorganization of Employee timetables and service bulletins/fare tariffs is now done. The search engine has been fully reindexed and the All Documents report has been updated. If you notice any problem let me know.

Next up is a new post with more of what you expect... lots of new and interesting material. :-)


May 17 - 2021

Don't be alarmed but... the first stage to reorganize employee timeables and passenger service bulletins/fare tariffs is in place.

Employee timetables will now have 3 filtering groups. 1881-1909, 1910 to 1967 and 1968 to present. This is necessary because Regions and Divisions changed in significant ways at each of these points.

Passenger service bulletins and fare tariffs will now get their own filtering group. These documents describe passenger services, change notices and fares.

Existing documents will be recategorized and moved when I have the chance.


April 25 - 2021

A tiny bit of clean up in the library today.

I forgot to run the job to refresh the search engine index the other day. Meaning, you couldn't fine the new stuff. That's now corrected.

Named passenger cars were grouped into 'series' by the railroad. e.g., A Diner Series. Some older documents in the library incorrectly used 'class'.

Don't forget there is a report that lists all documents in the collection. That's found under the Reports menu after you login. It's updated with every new posting.

Still trying to figure out what to do with employee timetables. We have a few hundred coming soon and it's a problem I want to solve while I only have a ~180 to fix instead of 4 or 500. The biggest issue is that in the early period Divisions were named and organized differently. Example, Ontario was split into 3 divisions.


April 21 - 2021

293 new documents posted today. Employee timetables, passenger and steam drawings, various company reports and power distribution reports.

This is first batch of a ton of new documents. It's hard to say how many new docs are coming but I already have close to 500 ready to start data entry.

The next batch will have a whole bunch of employee timetables and it's now painfully obvious that we need to reorganize how employee timetables are organized. More work!


April 4 - 2021


A couple updates went on the website today:

1) A search engine fix. I continue to monitor the engine logs for issues but if you encounter something and you think it should have worked please let us know.

2) CPHA members, we have added discounting in the Store when purchasing 5 or more back issues.


I'm preparing a Library update of about 320 new documents. I'm hoping it will be ready in a couple weeks. Unfortunately at the rate I'm moving it will be ready just in time to start preparing another.


February 28 - 2021


Eleven hour power failure and an additional 13 hours without Internet knocked us offline for close to 24 hours. Everything should be OK until the next time. ;-p


February 9 - 2021


A big stack of trainsheets!

Dont't bother trying to guess the number. There's also 3 boxes to go with the collection.


Januaary 1 - 2021


Happy New Year from the CPHA Executive and volunteers.

New library post today that completes everything that's ready. There's a ton of documents waiting for post scan processing but unfortunately, or maybe lucky for us, a large collection is going to side track us for the next couple months.


December 13 - 2020


It appears that library search engine was a bit broken in certain scenarios. I changed the search method to use ranked dictionary instead of using contextual words and phrases and that changed how the search text needed to be parsed. I think I got it right now. If you are searching and it doesn't work as expected please let us know.


I hope to do one more post before the end of the year. Just finishing up processing the documents and then start staging for posting.


October 22 - 2020


Hot on the heels of yesterday's post are 415 new documents. This collection is pretty interesting.

In the late 1980s the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada inspected existing railway stations to determine their historical significance. The reports contain history, plans and photos of each station - a wealth of information. Fortunately a member had the presence of mind to take a copy because the reports are no longer available on the Government of Canada website.

That's all for now. Time to take a bit of a break. :-)


October 21 - 2020


173 new documents posted today. This post is mostly documents from the Dan Kirlin Collection. Some of you may have known Dan either from his hobby shop in Winnipeg, Kirlin Scale Models, or possibly his custom model building work. The collection is about 95% CN and 5% CP and other railways.

We and the CNRHA are very grateful that Dan's family to have the presence of mind to allow the collection to be made available. Plus, giving permission to release the scale drawings from Dan's various projects, including those from Kirlin Scale Models to public domain.

BTW, the collection is large. I've scanned close to 1000 blueprints so far so please be patient.


August 18 - 2020


Search engine improvement #2.

It's now possible to filter on additional categories - sub-division name and document collection. You can use any combination of filters and search text too.

Document Type has always been there but the other 2 will likely be a bit rocky start to wrap your head around.

Search by sub-division is exactly what it sounds like. If the document is for a specific location then it will be catalogued as so, Standard plans and drawings that cover multiple locations are not cataloged. We index additional search info for documents so you can try using the location or sub-division name in the search field if sub-division doesn't find anything.

We are using Sub-division names based on Western and Eastern historical sub-division maps in the Library. If you don't see your sub-division listed then check the historical map to get the alternate name. Sub-divisions can also be split between 2 divisions. An example from the top of my head is the Chalk River Sub. In this case the document will be under the correct division. You might want to check the historical map to be sure.

Collections have always been in the Library but never really in the forefront because the number of them were small (two!). This year we have added 3 new collections and I think it's time to make it a searchable feature.

Next on the Library to do list is a large document post. You can thank Covid19 for that.


July 26 - 2020


New document posting. Check the recently update page for more details.

The search page update #2 is delayed but we're very close. Hopefully in a couple days


May 9 - 2020


Search engne improvement #1. You can now use words, partial words and phrases. There is another update coming sometime this month to the search page.


April 1st - 2020


We needed to reorganize the stencil drawing collection to make way for more. This is now completed. If you find a problem accessing a document let us know.


March 31st - 2020


For the benefit of those that aren't receiving our email blasts, we have a huge website update.

Here's what's new:

1) The new site is now using secure HTTPS.

2) Your CPHA Membership is now linked to your online profile. NOTE: Because of that significant change everyone needs to register to the site with a real email address.

3) If you're you're a CPHA member your web profile will now show your membership status. Your last issue will be diplayed along with all the other information we have about you.

4) You will now be able to renew your membership on-line using PayPay or direct Debit/Credit card instead of mailing in your renewal or doing an e-Transfer.

5) More sales stuff coming, like back issue sales. Coming soon.

6) You will now be able to register for the Nelson 2020 convention online using PayPal or direct Debit/Credit card. Why does that matter? Tours have limited space and reservations are based on signup date. If you mail in you may get left out.

7) You're now able to reset your password without my direct intervention. The web master says, Yay!

8) The document site has a whole ton of new functionality being prepared... should I list them or leave it for another day? OK... there will be new library features for CPHA members only. We have enhancements to searching and a big data reorganziation happening. For example, wouldn't it be nice to search for all the documents that apply to the division or subdivision you are intersted in? Yeah, that's in the works.

8) More stuff, more documents and even more coming over the course of the year. I have about 800 new documents scanned or being prepared. Watch for it!

9) This is the first cut of the new site so expect minor changes and enhancements over the next few weeks.


CPHA Library Update 2020


The Library team has grown to 4 people. The scanning team is Dave Pottinger and me. Our administrative point man is Rob Kirkham. Paul Clegg is our field research guy looking for new material.

I just finished prepping the next load of documents and I’m going to do it a bit different than previous years. Instead of dumping a huge 359 doc blob I’m going to do smaller themed batches - stencil, bridges, steam, etc. Look for it starting tomorrow.

Recently I received some comments via friend of a friend (sort of thing) and I thought maybe I can clarify a couple of the concerns regarding the Library

The first comment was regarding how frequently we post material. The short answer is at least once a year; however, it would be nice to have enough bandwidth to do it more often.

Here’s the longer explanation. On average we post 350+ documents every year but that’s not the full picture. We accept duplicate material in hope that we get better quality scans and document revisions. Sometimes we receive documents that aren’t official, too recent (not historical), contains personal information or the source not entirely known. So the typical year scan quantity is well over 400.

Scanning a blueprint is relatively quick. I can do 20-50 drawings in an evening’s work depending on the state of the originals. The larger effort is the post scan processing to get it up on the Library. We have programs and scripting to make some tasks quicker but there is still a lot of grunt work like, e.g., verification and data entry.

My hope for 2020 is we find an additional volunteer that can do data entry so we can maybe do more than one post in a year. The position is available but there are software prerequisites and you need to be able to commit the time to do it. Contact me if you’re interested.

The second comment was regarding the Library’s backlog. As I mentioned we scan a good number of documents a year so the fact that we have a health sized backlog speaks loudly on how successful the project is going. So let’s talk about our backlog system.

The backlog is organized in 4 groups; long and mid-term projects, high priority and the ready to post queue.

Long term projects are contributions consisting of multiple thousands of documents and owner does not want the collection returned. Up to now we have been working on it when there are no mid-term projects to work on but recently Dave Pottinger has been assigned to work on it. Finished material is scanned and documented for delivery to an archive. The designated archive will also receive the final image and PDF documents for their use.

Mid-term projects are less than a couple thousand documents and the owner does not want the collection returned. The work on this type of project is done when the high priority list is up to date. Like the long term projects queue, the material is scanned and documented for delivery to an archive. The designated archive will receive the final scanned and PDF documents for their use.

High priority are documents that the owner wants them back. I work on the high priority list and move to the mid-term queue when caught up. The list is organized by due date. That is, if the owner gives us an expected time frame then we will do our best to meet the deadline. E.g., the drawing is going to be sold or something like that. The queue is constantly reorganized based on due dates. Documents received that have no explicit deadline are organized by the “pile” system. Incoming is put at the bottom of the pile.

Occasionally we receive material that is has already been scanned. The material comes either as an image file or PDF. On receipt I check the material and place in one of the 3 queues.

If the scan contribution is good quality and compatible with our software then it goes right into the ready to post queue. Good as done.

Contributions that require some post scan processing and compatible with our software go in the high priority queue.

Contributions containing a lot of files (e.g., thousands) and need processing or not compatible are placed in the mid-term project queue.

Non-compatible scans can be a challenge. Some scan software convert images into layers of OCR text, line segments and shading layers. Colour 16 and 24bit scans need to be converted to black and white image. White on black images need to be reversed. Drawings de-speckled and straightened, etc. Sometimes we get a PDF version that our software can’t deal with. These are the type of docs that are put in the mid-term queue. I revisit them when I have time to figure out what software we need, or I need to write, or figure out the trick on how to work with it.

So that was last year’s concern. This year we continue to charge forward and do what we’ve been doing for the past 18 year – having fun and building the best source for CPR documentation that anyone could hope to find.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2020.


Jeff Pinchbeck

CPHA, Vice Chairman


December 19th... second time...

The yearly Christmas post is now in production.  We've got about 500 drawings setup for the Yuletide.  I don't know if it's going to be posted as themes or just as a huge dump.  Watch the Recent upload page after Christmas. 


December 19, 2019

With a bit more research is appears WLS just means Western Lines Standard not structures. 


November 27, 2019

More research in drawing numbering conventions and this time Western Lines (WL*) series drawings.

WLC- Coaling plants including other coal related facilities such as coal and oil sheds

WLE- Engine Houses and Boiler Houses

WLF- Freight Sheds

WLM- Motor Cars

WLI- Interlocking Plants

WLP- Petty Stores and Oil Houses, Pump Houses

WLS- Stations and Section Houses <- Not entirely sure at this point but thats the leading theory.

WLW- Water Supplies

WLX- Grade and railway crossings, signals and telegraph systems

There are EL series drawings and it's possible there was a similar naming convention but it's not confirmed.


August 3, 2019

Here's 162 new docs, our first drop for 2019. Lots of interesting stuff in this one. There is about 340 more to come for 2019.


December 28, 2017

I haven't found a place for this tidbit (thank you Paul) in the site pages and it's too useful to loose so here it is for now.

A drawing number beginning with a letter followed by a dash (such as F-11-2) was a system drawing used for reference purposes. Except in the B- series, most, but not, all of these drawings were standard drawings. In the B- series, the early drawings were primarily standard drawings, but those beginning B-1- and B-2- were for individual structures not usually standards. A letter immediately followed by a number (such as B3-27) was a drawing from Vancouver or Winnipeg. Files in the numerical series from 2000 to 9999 were from Vancouver. Files in the numerical series from 10000 to 99999 were system project drawings.

The system reference drawing letter codes originally were as follows (our interpretation):

A – Ash or cinder facilities

B – Primarily bridges but also structures under the same department such as culverts, tunnels, and turntable.

C – Coaling plants and coaling stations

D – Originally what was called diagrams (really maps). Little used

E – Mechanical drawings

F – Right of way details and structures that are not buildings including fencing signs, loading platforms etc

G – Erecting drawings for passenger and freight rolling stock

H – Buildings and building details

I – Not used

J) - Erecting drawings for steam locomotives

K) – Erecting drawings for steam locomotives

L) – Erecting drawings for steam locomotive tenders

M – Originally letters and figures, later Western Lines drawings

N – Foreign railway drawings

O – not used

P - originally density charts etc.

Q - not used

R – Rail and fastenings

T – Track

W – Originally water tower and related details and later, fluid handling

X – Originally railway and road crossings and signals

Y – Yard plans