Sunday, January 22, 2012

The CP Rail Multimark

Last year I wrote a post about the CN “wet noodle,” on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. Since I model CP Rail, it only seems right to post something about that railway’s unique logo—the Multimark.
The Multimark was introduced in 1968. It was made up of a triangle to suggest motion or direction; a circle to suggest global activities (the CPR also owned an airline and ships); and a square to suggest stability.

The first Multimark on locomotives is known as the large Multimark; it covered the back of the units from the walkway to roof. 

Later, it was shrunk to fit from the walkway to the bottom of the grill. This is known as the small Multimark.
The large Multimark.

There doesn’t appear to have been an official date or time when the Multimark era ended; it just sort of faded away. The first unit not to be painted with a Multimark reportedly was GP7 1684 in 1987.
The Multimark logo was applied to everything from teacups to airplanes to ships to boxcars—the CPR at the time was more than a railway, owning ships, hotels, an airline and a trucking line. 

Each operating division had its own colour.

Here's how it looked on a ship:
And here's how it looked on an airplane:

In addition to the Multimark, CP Rail also colour-coded its freight car fleet. Green was for newsprint service boxcars; yellow for refrigerator cars, insulated boxcars and vans (cabooses); red was for general service boxcars, gondolas and flatcars; black was for open and covered hoppers; and silver for mechanical reefers. 

The photo below show the railway's publicity train during its cross-Canada tour. (Split apart at the Spiral Tunnels for photo purposes.)

The Multimark was also known by railfans as Pacman for its resemblance to the early video game symbol.

The railway released a booklet to illustrate how its logo and colour scheme would look on rolling stock. Here are a few pages:

Since I model the early 1990s, the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub. has a number of Multimark units (both large and small), no Multimark and CP Rail System (two flags) units, plus SOO Line, rent-a-wrecks and lots of rolling stock with the Multimark in various freight car colours. 

It’s another reason why I like modeling this time period.

Some of the images on this page from cprdieselroster, OKthePK and Old Time Trains.


  1. Great post! The multimark sort of lives on with Carnival Cruise Lines. Lore has it that when they acquired their first ship in 1972, the former CP Empress of Canada, they merely softened the lines on the multimark and in so doing, created their own, now widely recognized logo.

  2. Being an aviation buff, not knowing how I ended up here but the CP logo was an iconic reminder of a great Canadian enterprise. CP Air was a much better carrier than Air Canada, too bad they weren't allowed more Atlantic routes. The orange livery was used in marketing, accompanying ads with the motto 'orange is beautiful'.

    1. And today, Westjet is a much better carrier than Air Canada, must be a Canadian tradition.

  3. Used to work for CP. I always liked the Multi Mark logo with 8" white nose stripes, action red color and white/black rear stripes. Even when the Pac Man was removed in '87 and thereafter, the units still looked pretty good even though I was ticked at first. I was ticked because without a logo, it looked like CP had no identity. I don't like the post 1993 Candy Apple Red CP uses on their units, especially without the Golden Beaver now. The units look just plain dull.