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

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