Despite the commercial and political emphases of its subtitle, this is more a nostalgic art book than a nostalgic history text or elaborate advertisement. It comes to market thanks to Matthias Hühne, the evidently wealthy patron-publisher of a press he has founded to preserve and celebrate some of the best of twentieth-century commercial art, especially that produced by the airline industry. So far he has published no more than one book – lavishly produced – a year. Last year it was the spectacular Airline Visual Identity, 1945-1975, which he wrote and edited himself. This year it is Marc Choko’s Canadian Pacific, again with superb colour reproduction values which appear to have cost more than the cover price suggests. Next year it will be the visual self-representations of Pan American Airline, in his own Pan AM: History, Design & Identity. Does the art work commissioned by an airline deserve to be reproduced as faithfully as the Book of Kells or the Duc de Berri's Tres Riches Heures? In these books it is.
The history of the CPR and its hotel, shipping, airline and other enterprises, from the railway’s beginnings in the 1880s to the 1980 end point chosen by Choko and Hühne for this volume, coincides with the flourishing of colour printing in advertising and magazine production – a period that symbolically ends with Kodak’s bankruptcy in 2012 and the rapid 1969-2004 expansion of the internet. CP’s locomotives, steamships, aircraft and the printing presses of its posters and magazine ads were all part of that Benjaminian age of mechanical reproduction