The Last Spike

The Last Spike

The Great Railway 1881-1885

Book - 1971
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In the four years between 1881 and 1885, Canada was forged into one nation by the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.The Last Spikereconstructs the incredible story of how some 2,000 miles of steel crossed the continent in just five years -- exactly half the time stipulated in the contract. Pierre Berton recreates the adventures that were part of this vast undertaking: the railway on the brink of bankruptcy, with one hour between it and ruin; the extraordinary land boom of Winnipeg in 1881--1882; and the epic tale of how William Van Horne rushed 3,000 soldiers over a half-finished railway to quell the Riel Rebellion. Dominating the whole saga are the men who made it all possible -- a host of astonishing characters: Van Horne, the powerhouse behind the vision of a transcontinental railroad; Rogers, the eccentric surveyor; Onderdonk, the cool New Yorker; Stephen, the most emotional of businessmen; Father Lacombe, the black-robed voyageur; Sam Steele, of the North West Mounted Police; Gabriel Dumont, the Prince of the Prairies; more than 7,000 Chinese workers, toiling and dying in the canyons of the Fraser Valley; and many more -- land sharks, construction geniuses, politicians, and entrepreneurs -- all of whom played a role in the founding of the new Canada west of Ontario. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, [c1971]
ISBN: 9780771013270
Branch Call Number: 385.0971 Ber
Characteristics: xii, 478 p. :,illus. ;,25 cm


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May 19, 2015

In 1971 this book and its companion, The National Dream became big sellers and The CBC produced an expensive TV Series based on their findings. Unfortunately these 'findings' did not stand the test of time. We now know The National Dream was hardly a Canadian success story. The completion of The CPR mainline in 1885 was primarily financed by The British, American, Dutch and German engineered and utilized Krupp steel. Mr. Berton failed to describe, acknowledge or even sympathize with the thousands of underpaid,underfed and poorly housed Chinese workers who completed all the dangerous work. Mr. Berton described the photo of The Last Spike as one of Canada's most famous pictures. Sadly you cannot find a single Chinese worker in that photo.

Nov 22, 2010

one of the great books of Canadian history

Mar 15, 2010

This tale of the historical building of Canada's railroad considered as an impossible feat is a fascinating read. Our Canada was built by sweat, tears and the lives of thousands under the harshest of conditions. This book should be an obligatory-read for all elementary school students. Enjoy.

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