MORANT, Nicholas

Canadian Pacific

John Garden of Footprint Publishing has issued a second edition of his 6-pound coffee table tribute, Nicholas Morant’s Canadian Pacific, his second book about the life and work of the ‘Special Photographer’ who worked for the CPR more than 50 years.


Canadian Pacific (Footprint Publishing)

AMONG THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF photographs taken by Nicholas Morant during his 50-year career as official photographer for the CPR was this shot of engine #2811, The Frontenac, smoking its way through the station at Portneuf, Quebec.
After Morant had taken great pains to construct a scaffold to catch the oncoming locomotive from an engineer’s perspective, company officials rejected the photograph because it was clear that the engineer was wearing patched overalls. Morant had a lifetime railway pass and crisscrossed the country many times, photographing not only trains but hotels, steamships, trucks, airliners, oil wells, mines, logging people, places and events associated with the huge company. Often he and his wife lived in a caboose on a railway siding, waiting for days or weeks for the perfect conditions to make shots.
Hundreds of Morant's photographs from 1929 to 1981 are contained in Nicholas Morant's Canadian Pacific (Footprint Publishing, Revelstoke $79.95) with text by John F. Garden himself a locomotive engineer for CP Rail and resident of Revelstoke. Garden's previous photographic books are The Selkirks Nelson's Mountains and The Bugaboos, an Alpine History. He is currently writing a biography of Nicholas Morant. Canada's other national railway is the subject of a new history to be e leased this fall, The People's Railway,
Seventy' years of Canadian National (D&M $29.95) by Donald MacKay. This heavily-illustrated book traces the CNR's uphill battle to overcome heavy debts and act as an arm of government for national development. When British Columbia agreed to join Canada one condition was that the transcontinental railway would end on Vancouver Island. It never did. Later, coal baron Robert Dunsmuir agreed to build a railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo in exchange for a land grant one-quarter the size of Vancouver Island. The history of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway is the subject of David Greer’s forthcoming One Continuous Line: A History of Vancouver Island's E&N Railway (Polestar $26.95). Morant 0-9691621-3-8; MacKay 1-55054-062-9; Greer0-91959l-97-3

[BCBW, Autumn, 1992]