Monday, February 16

The CPR Cometh

In 1905 the Canadian Pacific Railway ended at Lipton, but tracks were being laid west toward Cupar.
It was therefore a 20 km overland trip to Cupar by horse.
According to Mr. John Donald in Pioneer Portraits “... everyone seemed to be going to Cupar. That was the first time I had heard of Cupar.... Cupar at that time looked to me like a small farm, the only buildings were a small livery stable, one store which had been moved into the village from the country just before the snow had melted, a pool hall and four small houses, the lumber for all these buildings being brought from Lipton. Cellars were being dug for the Hotel, the Red Store and George Meldrum and Son Hardware, which did business in a tent until the buildings were finished, their living quarters also being in a tent. The Gibson Lumber Co. were also building an office, getting ready for their first car load of lumber. There were no streets, no sidewalks, nothing but the prairie....The first night I spent in Cupar, I slept on the bald prairie, but finding it rather cold, I decided to spend the next two weeks in the hay loft of the livery stable, not too comfortable, but an improvement on the prairies...”

Although I have been unable to find a photo of Cupar in 1905 the photo below, taken in 1906 shows the rapid growth in one year. Notice that the hotel has not yet gotten it's brick veneer.

By the late 1800's settlers were claiming homesteads in what we now call the Cupar Plains, but it was the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway which made Cupar a central hub for the surrounding rural farming communities. Over the years freight of all kind and passenger service expanded. Times of course change. The passenger train is gone as is the train station. At one point Cupar boasted 7 elevators. There is only one elevator now. The CPR freight train still stops here, but the arrival of a train is no longer a major social event.

The Cupar Museum is fortunate to possess an important artifact from this by gone time. It is a CPR platform baggage cart from Cupar. The process of restoration has only just begun. Hopefully it will become, along with other train artifacts and photographs, a focal point and teaching aid on the role of the railway in the development of this town.


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