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NUMBER 292, APRIL 2001


Ever since it was incorporated in February 1881, the Canadian Pacific has played a very important and vital role in the growth and development of Canada. It was also the first Canadian conglomerate as it branched out or diversified into other activities beside running a railway.

The news that Canadian Pacific is now being broken up into five separate companies which will have to fend for themselves is really no surprise. It is a part of the global trend and everyday reality. And Canadians, whether they like it or not, have to learn to live with it!

And it just doesn’t apply to Canadian Pacific! Several Canadian icons have either disappeared altogether or have been sold to foreign owners. This includes Simpsons, Eaton’s and the Montreal Canadians. So, CP isn’t an isolated case.

Canadian Pacific has served Canada well over the past 120 years. Whatever shape or direction it takes now, it will still play an important part in the lives of Canadians.


The news that Canadian National has agreed to acquire U.S. regional carrier Wisconsin Central should come as no surprise either. Already, through traffic agreements, Wisconsin Central handles most of CN’s traffic between Chicago and western Canada while CN handles most of Wisconsin Central’s traffic between the U.S. Midwest and eastern Canada. So, it is a natural fit.

The only interesting aspect of the merger from a Canadian point of view is that Wisconsin Central already owns the former Algoma Central Railway. And some of the Diesels on that line originally started on CN in the mid 1950’s. It is a case of what goes around comes around!

Humber-High Park Train

Re: Accident of January 2, 1884

by Ian Wheal

Grand Trunk Railway heavy freight locomotive was eastbound on a single track from Hamilton.

Grand Trunk Railway dummy (light tank engine) locomotive headed a two coach suburban train carrying some forty Swansea Bolt Works employees to work. It left Toronto ten minutes late.

The two locomotives met on the single track, 150 yards west of High Park GTR Station just east of Ellis Ave. and Queen St. West(almost opposite Grenadier Pond) at about 7:00 a.m. in a blinding snowstorm.

The heavier freight engine smashed into the dummy engine and its coaches crushing them on impact.

A total of 27 people(figures differ) were killed and about 10 were seriously injured. Only one person escaped unhurt.

Today this crash site is unmarked with neither plague nor memorial to Toronto’s worst train disaster.

VIA London Station Demolished

Hollie Lowry

Shortly after 0915 ET on Sunday, February 4, 2001, a landmark in the City of London, ON disappeared when the VIA station, located at 205 York St., was demolished with more than 600 pounds of dynamite.

Built in 1968-69, the 10 storey building had been vacant since 1995 save for the VIA ticket booth and a travel agency on the ground floor. The demolition was carried out by Greenspoon Bros. Ltd. with help from Demolition Dynamics of Franklin, TN.

The demolition took about six weeks of planning, careful preparation and working out the details of the implosion with the city.

The building presented a challenge as it was fairly typical of many built in the late 1960’s. These was a trend then to lighten up the columns and substitute a stiffer and stronger central core. The rigidity of the centre core made the building more difficult to bring down, resulting in a need to concentrate the explosives in the lower parts of the building. Therefore, the charges were set in the basement and on the first, fourth and sixth floors.

To protect the public from the blast, an 800 foot perimeter was established that was off limits to any pedestrian traffic when the building was being demolished. Trailers lined the far side of York Street across from the blast and the building directly opposite the station was covered with a tarpaulin.

When the dust cleared following the implosion, a 15 foot pile of building materials was left of the site and a smattering of debris was scattered across York Street, directly in front of the demolished building. The building fell into itself almost completely. Some debris crossed the street but remarkably little went beyond the hoarding around the site. The street was cleared in only a short period after the blast.

Once Greenspoon completed cleaning up the site, it was turned over to Ellis-Don to begin construction of a new $6.4 million station designed by Myhola Wasylko of Scorgie Wasylko Architects Inc. The new station is expected to be operational for the 2001 Canada Games which will be held in London.

The new station will be the sixth one to rise in the block bounded north of the old Great Western Railway main line between Richmond and Clarence Streets.

(Adapted from Daily Commercial News and Construction Record courtesy Juris Zvidris with additional information from Canadian Rail Passenger Review Number 1.)

Rail Clippings, by Hollie Lowry

Canadian Pacific

Canadian Pacific is to be broken up! On February 13, CP Chairman David Brien announced that the conglomerate is to be split into five pieces. Each of the five pieces will have the freedom to make acquisitions or be bought out itself. CP is splitting up because investors prefer single business companies instead of conglomerates

The five separate pieces will be the historic Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), PanCanadian Petroleum, CP Ships, Fording Coal and CP Hotels and Resorts. Already, Canadian National(CN) President and CEO Paul Tellier has indicated that CN might be interested in acquiring the CPR. Also, Standard & Poor\rquote s has put the CPR on credit watch with negative implications because of the propose d restructuring and the Dominion Bond Rating Service has downgraded its rating on some of the railway\rquote s debt. CP hopes to have the breakup completed this fall.

Three weeks earlier, on January 22, the CPR announced its 2000 year end financial results. Operating profit for the year was $532 million, up 46% from $364 million in 1999. Volumes grew by 10% while operating costs increased by 3%-despite record fuel prices.

The CPR's freight revenue will grow by 4-5% this year assuming the economy continues with modest growth.

In other CPR news, a deal has been reached with Alstom SA to have the French company run the CP's Ogden Shops in Calgary, AB which has been operating at about 50% capacity. It is expected that Alstom will be able to attract third party contract work which will boost utilization...4 tankcars of a CP freight train, loaded with anhydrous ammonia, derailed in Red Deer, AB on the night of February 2, forcing the evacuation of up to 5,000 people. CP vowed to compensate residents affected by the spill...CP has joined the North American Container System(NACS) which gives them access to containers owned by other pa rticipants, as well as a link with Mexico. Other members of NACS include CN and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Canadian National

On January 30, CN made news of its own when it announced plans to acquire U.S. regional carrier Wisconsin Central(WC) in a deal worth $1.8 billion. CN is offering $17.15 U.S. per share for all outstanding WC common shares, representing a 21% premium on the share's price.

Under the deal, CN will acquire about 3,500 kilometres of track including an important missing link between Chicago and western Canada as well as the former Algoma Central Railway between Saulte Ste. Marie and Hearst. ON and $400 million U.S. in WC debt

The deal is subject to approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board whose 15 month moratorium on big railway mergers helped kill a proposed CN-Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger last year. However, CN\rquote s Paul Tellier says that this is a "minor transaction" and is confident that it will be approved.

A week earlier, on January 23, CN released its 2000 financial results. The railway made a profit of $879 million compared to a profit of $746 million in 1999. Revenues increased by 4% during the year and they achieved an operating ratio of 69.6%.

CN has already been warned, though, of a possible economic slowdown this year but says there will be no major job cuts this year to compensate; any cuts should be taken care of by the normal employee annual attrition rate of 3.5-4%.

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