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CN Telegraphs began co-operating with its Canadian Pacific owned rival CPR Telegraphs in the 1930s, sharing telegraph networks and co-founding a teleprinter system in 1957.

In 1967 the two services were amalgamated into a joint venture CNCP Telecommunications which evolved into a telecoms company. In 1923 CNR's second president, Sir Henry Thornton who succeeded David Blyth Hanna (1919–1922), created the CNR Radio Department to provide passengers with entertainment radio reception and give the railway a competitive advantage over its rival, CP.

On November 17, 1995, the federal government privatized CN.

Over the next decade, the company expanded significantly into the United States, purchasing Illinois Central Railroad and Wisconsin Central Transportation, among others.

Canadian National Railways was born out of both wartime and domestic urgency.At the same time, CNo R was also directed to assume management of Canadian Government Railways (CGR), a system comprising the Intercolonial Railway of Canada (IRC), National Transcontinental Railway (NTR), and the Prince Edward Island Railway (PEIR), among others.On December 20, 1918, the federal government created the Canadian National Railways (CNR) – a title only with no corporate powers – through a Canadian Privy Council Order in Council as a means to simplify the funding and operation of the various railway companies.The need for a viable rail system was paramount in a time of civil unrest and foreign military intervention.CN Telegraph originated as the Great North West Telegraph Company in 1880 to connect Ontario and Manitoba and became a subsidiary of Western Union in 1881.

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