The railway industry has a long and significant history in Canada. The advent of railway technology changed the way we work and live, and helped to shape Canada as a nation.
British Engineer Richard Trevithick built the first working full-scale steam locomotive in 1804. By the 1840s, railways were crucial for transporting goods and supplies required for industrialization. As agrarian life gave way to city dwelling during the Industrial Revolution, railways made it possible to transport goods across this vast land, connecting parts of North America that previously lacked a viable transportation route.
A Timeline of Canadian Railways
The first Canadian railway, which opened in 1836, was the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad, built near Montreal to connect river traffic. In 1840, the Albion Railway opened in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, connecting coal mines to a seaport. The government saw the railroads as an opportunity to unite the vast nation and promote trade within Canada and with the US. By 1853, the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) linked Toronto and Montreal, and included lines to Portland, Maine, Michigan and Chicago. The GTR was a huge feat, and by 1870 had become the longest railway in the world. The building of the Intercontinental Railway was viewed as being so integral to Confederation that it was included as a condition in the Constitution Act, 1867. The Maritimes were linked to Quebec and Ontario by the Intercolonial, completed in 1876. (Canadian Encyclopedia online, February 2019).
The railways played an integral role in expanding the settlement in the Prairies, and the growth of various industries, such as coal mining, lumbering and paper making. Railways created employment opportunities, as entrepreneurs invested in the manufacture of materials required for building, operating, and maintaining railways, such as fuel, iron and steel. Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) began in 1881, and the railway was greatly influential in the formation of new cities out west from Winnipeg to Vancouver.
In 1923, the government merged the Grand Trunk Railway, Grand Trunk Pacific, Canadian Northern and Intercontinent Railways, forming the Canadian National Railways (CN). Both CN (which privatized in 1995) and CP remain integral to the transport of bulk materials, and commodities, like coal and grain, in North America. Rail transport is also beneficial for transporting finished goods, which can be packed in railway containers for easy transfer between trains and other modes of transportation.
Who is Cando?
Cando Rail Services prides itself on providing a complete rail solution to customers across North America. The company is a one-stop shop for railway services, offering industrial switching, terminal and transload services, logistics, material handling, short line operations, mechanical services, railcar storage, engineering and track services. Cando’s goal is to ensure that products make their way through the supply chain safely and efficiently, supporting their industrial customers and Class 1 railways (a class that includes CN, CP and VIA Rail Canada, as well as Amtrak, BNSF, CSX and UP in the US). The company’s headquarters are located in Brandon, Manitoba, with more than 400 employees working in locations across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and in parts of the US.
Gord Peters and Rick Hammond founded the company, originally known as Cando Contracting Ltd., in 1978. In the beginning, the work primarily consisted of track removal and material salvaging. However, the small Manitoba-based rail line dismantling and salvage company has grown substantially over the years to become an integrated solutions provider for customers in the rail sector and bulk handling industries across North America.
In 1996, Cando implemented an Employee Ownership Program, and now employees are also corporate shareholders. For Peters, this was an important part of ensuring the company’s continued success. As stated on their website, "My vision and legacy for this company is that it will continue for future generations in the capable hands of the people that know the business best – the employees. Our employee-owned company will continue to deliver industry leading rail services based on safety, customer satisfaction, employee development, innovation and sustained growth” (Cando Website, February 2019).
The industrial photography created for Cando Rail reflects the type of dynamic work they do. The use of different angles and composition techniques — such as leading lines, foreground interest and depth — helps to create visually stunning images, while also telling the story of Cando — who they are, what they do, and what they value. It was important to document the various services Cando provides, the equipment they use, and the work environment, but also, and perhaps most of all, it was important to capture the hard work of Cando’s crew members, as they are the backbone of this employee-own company.