By 1925, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific dominated the country's railway scene. Their fierce competition produced more branch lines and newer, bigger and faster steam locomotives. People fondly recall these mighty behemoths straining, grunting and chugging along under huge plumes of smoke. The Great Depression stunned Canadian railways. As if this was not enough, cars, buses, trucks and even airplanes began gnawing into their business. There were serious proposals to merge CN and CP. Nevertheless, it was during the Depression that railway lines finally reached James Bay and Hudson Bay. The appearance of the first Canadian diesel locomotive in 1929 warned that, even as steam locomotives basked in their golden era, they would someday slide into the oblivion of museums and Sunday afternoon tourist excursions. Montreal stamp designer Ernst Roch painted some of Canada's largest locomotives for these stamps. They present an interesting contrast between the exposed complex machinery of "super power" steam locomotives (the CP T1a and H1c, and the CN U-2-a) and the early diesel (the CN V-1-a) which hides its internal complexity behind a bland exterior steel box.
Canada Post Corporation. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1986.
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