The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

Front Cover
Doubleday Canada, Limited, 2001 - History - 478 pages
7 Reviews
In the four years between 1881 and 1885, Canada was forged into one nation by the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Last Spike reconstructs 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 18811882; 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.

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Review: The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

User Review  - Dennis Osborne - Goodreads

I first read this book 25 yrs ago and it remains a fascinating read. This book needs to be read in conjunction with the National Dream and concerns the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This ... Read full review

Review: The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

User Review  - Daren Doucet - Goodreads

If any country in the world had leaders like this, they would have a truly great country! William Cornelius Van Horne, George Stephen, and Sir John A MacDonald strive to create a National Dream ... Read full review

About the author (2001)

Pierre Berton, Canada's most widely read historian, was born in the Yukon and educated at UBC. Author of forty-seven books, he has received three Governor General's awards for nonfiction, two Nellies for broadcasting, two National Newspaper awards, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, and the National History Society's first award for "distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history." He holds eleven honorary degrees, is a member of the Newsman's Hall of Fame, and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

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