This image shows the Canadian National Railways (CNR) No. 6404, a Class U-4-a locomotive. It was one of the 4-8-4 (referring to wheel arrangement) “Confederation” series, commonly known as the “Northern” (the original 4-8-4 was built by the Northern Pacific Railway of the USA). The CN Class U-4a locomotives were built in 1936 by the Montreal Locomotive Works. Only five were produced—6400 to 6404—and of these, only the 6400 remains intact, as it was used for the Royal Train tour of 1939. The 6400 is housed at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.
Interestingly, the photographer, Nicolas Morant was the official photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from 1929 to 1981. However, he also briefly worked for the Winnipeg Free Press, and throughout World War II, he was loaned to the Wartime Information Board, which became the National Film Board Stills Division. During this period, Morant produced images of other railways, as well as on many other subjects. Two of Morant’s images have appeared on Canadian postage stamps, and the Canadian $10, $50, and $100 bills have all featured a Morant photograph.