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Sailing the Seven Seas: A History of the Canadian Pacific Line .

Sailing the Seven Seas: A History of the Canadian Pacific Line by Peter Pigott. Toronto: Dundurn Press. 256 pp., illus., hard cover, $35.00.

Sometimes reading a book can be a pleasure because it coincides with one's interests. At other times, it is just a good read. Sailing the Seven Seas is a prime example of both of these qualities being brought together under one cover. The author is a superb writer, and the story is an engaging one.

Canadian Pacific Railway began its maritime career in 1884 with three vessels on the Great Lakes, the Alberta, the Algoma, and the Athabasca. It was inauspicious beginning, the Algoma sinking in 1885 the same day the last spike was driven at Craigellachie. Two years later, the CPR acquired three ocean-going vessels to ply between Vancouver and Hong Kong, and in 1891 it launched the first ships in its famous Princess line.

For the next century the author takes the reader through the competition for the Atlantic trade, the expanding luxury of its first class passenger ships, and its less than impressive accommodation for steerage passengers. The author deals with such diverse topics as competition, sea sickness, menus, favourite captains, crews, disasters, and the role of CP ships in the two World Wars. The end of this magnificent era finally came in the 1950s with the increasing dominance of air travel.

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Publication:Alberta History
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jun 22, 2011
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