Fonds F0456 - Canadian Pacific Railway Land Settlement and Development fonds

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Canadian Pacific Railway Land Settlement and Development fonds


  • 1884-1963, predominant 1884-1940 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

40.25 m of textual records.
1642 photographs.
24 architectural plans.
2 film reels.
ca. 1600 maps, plans and drawings.

Context area

Name of creator

Administrative history

During the Canadian Pacific Railway's construction of the national railway in the 1880s, it became involved in the sale and settlement of land. Part of the provisions made by the government to the company were 25 million acres (10 million ha) of land in a belt along the railway. Land grants were administered by the company's Land Department in Winnipeg until 1912 when the responsibility was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources.

DNR had three divisions: Irrigation Projects, Lands, and Mines, and was administered by an Advisory Committee and an Executive Branch. Peter L. Naismith was the manager of the DNR from 1912 to 1927, and Samuel Graham Porter from 1927 to 1942. Settlement was closely linked to the construction of large irrigation works, which were increasingly centred in Alberta, therefore the headquarters of the department was moved to Calgary. In 1903 CPR was granted land in southern Alberta, called the Irrigation Block (divided into the Eastern, Western, and Lethbridge Sections) upon which to develop irrigation systems.

Colonization of the Irrigation Block was originally administered by the CPR Land Department (Calgary office). In 1912 the responsibility was transferred to DNR, and after 1916 to the Department of Colonization and Development (subsequently called Department of Irrigation and Colonization) with headquarters in Montreal. After 1919 the Department of Irrigation and Colonization was represented in western Canada by the subsidiary Canadian Colonization Association. The nonprofit CCA was jointly formed by the CPR, Canadian National Railway and the federal government to recruit and secure settlers to Canada. CPR took over CCA after 1923. To assist in the reception and placement of immigrants, CPR encouraged the organization, and financially assisted, a number of national colonization boards. The administration of British Columbia land grants and the stimulation of settlement was originally the responsibility of the Land Department, but in 1903 a new department, the British Columbia Land Department, took over these responsibilities.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gifts of CPR, Canadian Pacific Oil and Gas Ltd., Marathon Realty, PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., EnCana Corporation, Randy Schefer, Doug Phillips, and Alex Price, 1961-2016.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The fonds consists of colonization files (including those of Department of Natural Resources, Department of Colonization and Development, Canadian Colonization Association, and various colonization boards) (1886-1940); Advisory Committee minutes and reports (1916-1958); Executive Branch files (1911-1952); P.L. Naismith and S.G. Porter correspondence (1912-1957); coal files (1904-1911); and British Columbia Land Department files (1896-1926) as well as land sale maps, building plans, plans and drawings of railway structures & equipment from the CPR Mechanical Department.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

No restrictions on access.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script notes

      The material is predominantly in English, but some of the correspondence with immigration organizations and settlers is in other languages.

      Physical characteristics and technical requirements

      Allied materials area

      Existence and location of originals

      Existence and location of copies

      Digital content is available

      Related units of description

      Other CPR records are held by the Canadian Pacific Ltd. Archives, Montreal.

      Notes area


      Title based on contents and provenance of records.


      M 9146, from EnCana, consists of 7 m of records which are not included in any previous finding aid.


      There is another 2 reel film called "Petroleum" which is missing and has not been described.


      Photo accessions 1626p, 2389p, 1981n, 2139n, 3109n, 3111n, 3938n, 5867n, 6242n, 6450n are copies.

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      Level of detail

      Dates of creation revision deletion

      Thursday, October 25, 2018




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