CNR Axes: Tools of the Canadian National Railway

1950* – 1965
True Temper Canada

Axes marked CNR were made for the Canadian National Railway to clear branches, trees, and other line work. The CNR axes were primarily contracted to True Temper Canada in St. Catherines, Ontario from sometime in the 1950s up to 1965 when the company shut down.

Axes were always a tool used on the railway. Large and mid-size felling axes were used for clearing routes for a new line, removing trees growing too close to existing lines, or clearing fallen trees and branches off the track.

Broad axes and hatchets could also be used for shaping timber for line work, railway ties, and working on wooden buildings, structures, and signs/signals on the route.

The specifically stamped CNR axes were made during contracts in the 50s and 60s by the largest axe maker in Canada – True Temper Canada (formerly Welland Vale Mfg Co LTD).

However, a few examples have been seen of axes made by Walters out of Hull, Quebec as well.

CNR Axe Types

The most common CNR axes found are 3.5lb Michigan pattern felling axes, and broad hatchets (also known as bench axes or hewing hatchets). Although, some mid-size boys axes have been seen.

There are 3 main stamp variations you can find. All of these are believed to be made by True Temper Canada, in this 1950-1965 window. None are really any more special than the others – they all still show up pretty frequently today:

  1. CNR Only (stamped near the poll)
  2. CNR 10 (no idea what the 10 stands for – but it’s not the year)
  3. CNR True Temper Lion

True Temper Lion was a mainstream “good” quality axe that wasn’t top-of-the-line, but they weren’t low-end either. I think it’s safe to assume the axes without the branding would be a similar good-quality axe as well.

1965 is an important date because True Temper Canada shut down for good. So it’s a pretty good line in the sand for production dates.

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