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"I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, yet I will venture to predict . . . that many . . . will live to hear the whistle of the steam engine in the passes of the Rocky Mountains and to make the journey from Halifax to the Pacific in five or six days."
Joseph Howe, 1851
"Old winter is once more upon us, and our island seas are 'dreary and inhospitable wastes' to the merchant and to the traveler; –our rivers are sealed fountains, –and an embargo which no human power can remove is laid on our ports . . . The animation of business is suspended, the life blood of commerce is curdled and stagnant in the St. Lawrence . . . Far away to the South is heard the daily scream of the steam-whistle, –but from Canada there is no escape: blockaded and imprisoned by Ice and Apathy, we have at least ample time for reflection – and if there be comfort in philosophy may we not profitably consider the PHILOSOPHY OF RAILROADS."
Thos. C. Keefer, Philosophy of Railroads, Montreal, 1853
"[Macdonald] had a clear idea of why he wanted power: to make certain Canada did not become American. He also had a clear idea of how this goal must be achieved: by stretching Canada into a continental nation that would be a mirror image of its rival."
Richard Gwyn, Nation Maker. Sir John A. Macdonald
"British Columbia is the key of the North Pacific. Without her and the Saskatchewan territory the very existence of Canada as a British dependency would be compromised, and before long at and end. The United States are already knocking at the door, and if the whole of British North America is not speedily connected by an overland communication or by railroad, England may bid adieu before long, not only to Canada, but to a great portion of her trade with the East."
Alfred Waddington, The British Colonist, Victoria, 27 Feb. 1868
"The opening by us first of a North Pacific Railroad seals the destiny of British possessions west of the 91 meridian. . . annexation will be but a question of time."
U.S.A. Senate, 19 February 1869
Last Spike, Central and Union Pacific Railroads, Promontory Utah, 10 May 1869
[Construction began on the Northern Pacific Railway in 1870 and was completed in 8 September 1883.]
Railways 1870 and 1887
"This war [the Civil War] caused the Government of the U.S. to hasten the construction of the overland railway–in part as a military measure and in part to keep California in the Union."
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken
"Trutch proposed . . . his bombshell . . . that without this Road there would be neither physical nor sentimental Union–but that British Columbia would be isolated and might as well be in Timbuctoo or elsewhere. That B.C. had to look for business and population from the East and without the R.R. this would not happen."
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken
"The journey from San Francisco by railway [to eastern Canada to negotiate the terms of union] opened our eyes not a little, for a railway had been built through a mountainous country quite as bad as that of British Columbia–if this one could be built so could one through British Columbia . . . No R. R. no Confederation."
Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken
"The United States Government are resolved to do all they can, short of war, to get possession of the western territory, and we must take immediate and vigorous steps to counteract them. One of the first things to be done is to show unmistakably our resolve to build the Pacific Railway."
Sir John A. Macdonald, 28 Jan. 1870
"If the railway scheme be Utopian, so also is Confederation. The two must stand or fall together."
The British Colonist, Victoria, 20 Feb. 1870
"With the construction of the railway the country will be populated by Englishmen; without it by Americans."
Toronto Globe, 23 March 1870
"The Government of the Dominion undertakes to secure the commencement simultaneously, within two years from the date of the Union, of the construction of a Railway from the Pacific towards the Rocky Mountains, and from such point as may be selected, east of the Rocky Mountains, towards the Pacific, to connect the seaboard of British Columbia with the railway system of Canada; and further, to secure the completion of such Railway within ten years from the date of the Union."
From the Terms of Union, 1871 (BC joins Canada)
"Immediate, private. I must have another ten thousand –– will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me; answer today."
Sir John A. Macdonald, 26 August 1872
"The American west was won by the prospector, the vigilantes and the saloon keeper; when the settlers arrived in the Canadian west he found a retail store, a chapel and a police station awaiting him."
L. F. S. Upton
"With emigrants of all Nations flowing into the country [the prairies] we are in constant danger of an Indian war . . . This may be prevented only by an early organization of a mounted police."
Sir John A. Macdonald, 1871
Grip, Toronto, 23 September 1873
1875 Red men and white men, Cyro Cuneo, R. I. in A Picture History of Canada, 1942
"Until this great work is completed, our Dominion is little more than a 'geographical expression.' . . . [The CPR is necessary] to give the overextended and under populated Canada a spine. . . The railway once finished, we become one great united country with a large inter-provincial trade, and a common interest."
Sir John A. Macdonald, letter 1 May 1878
Amor de Cosmos to Sir John A Macdonald 18th of September 1878, LAC
THE HEATHEN CHINESE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
AMOR DE COSMOS: "The Love of the World or the Lover of Mankind.
HEATHEN CHINEE: "Why you sendee me offee?"
A. D. C.: "Because you can't or won't 'assimilate' with us."
HEATHEN CHINEE: "What is datee?"
A. D. C.: "You won't drink whiskey, and talk politics and vote like us."
LAC, C-072064 J. Weston Canadian Illustrated News26 April 1879
"The great project of nation building, attendant on the building of the railway to British Columbia, was undertaken at a lasting cost to Canada's First Nations."
Dominic Hardy, Annie Gérin and Lora Carney
"Everything depended on a railway to give the attenuated entity [Canada] a spine."
Richard Gwyn, Nation Maker Sir John A. Macdonald
Le Canard, Montréal, December 1879
Canadian Pacific Railway construction between Yale and Boston Bar/Construction du chemin de fer du Canadien Pacifique entre Yale et Boston Bar. LAC PA-022530, Richard Maynard, 1881
"Canadian steel, Chinese grit."
Chinese at work on C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) in Mountains, 1884. Chinois travaillant dans les montagnes pour le Chemin de fer du Canadien Pacifique, 1884. LAC, Boorne & May/ C-006686B, Ernest Brown 1884
C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) - Hell Gate. LAC, PA-031866 Albertype Company
Corporate Archives Canadian Pacific
1900-1910, Sir William Van Horne, W.A. Cooper / Library and Archives Canada / PA-182603
"To have built that road would have made a Canadian out of the German Emperor."
Sir William Van Horne
"Lacombe [upon hearing that the Blackfoot were blocking the CPR] dispatched telegrams to Van Horne, Donald A. Smith, and Edgar Dewdney. The answers were not long in coming; nobody wanted another Custer-style massacre. The orders went straight to End of Track; cease all work until the Indians are placated. Lacombe was asked to appease them any way he could. . . [Lacombe told Chief Crowfoot that] 'The Governor himself will come to meet you. He will listen to your griefs; he will propose a remedy [land to replace the land used by the railway]. . . [Crowfoot ] consulted with Lieutenant-Colonel A. G. Irvine, the Commissioner of the North West Mounted Police, and asked him if he thought he, Crowfoot, could stop the railway. Irvine replied by asking Crowfoot if all the men in the world could stop the Bow River running."
Pierre Berton, The Last Spike.
"Father Lacombe persuades Chief Crowfoot and the Blackfeet to allow the railway to be built across their Reserve". LAC, 1972-26-604, Charles William Jefferys, 1920s or 1930s?
"With bankruptcy looming on the horizon even as the end of construction was in sight, what was needed was some single, dramatic event to bring attention to the railway's plight and underline the potential of a completed transcontinental railway. That event came in the form of the second North West Rebellion which broke out in the spring of 1885."
Omer Lavallée, Van Horne's Road, 1974
Telegram to Prime Minister John A. Macdonald announcing the last spike, November 07, 1885, LAC.
"Here [Craigellachie] on November 7, 1885, a plain iron spike wedded East to West."
Inscription on a plaque at Craigellachie
Hon. Donald A. Smith driving the last spike to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway. LAC, C-003693, Alexander Ross 7 November 1885.
CPR workers drive their own spike near Donald, 7 November 1885.
A few of the Canadian Pacific Railway employees, near Donald, the day the last spike was driven on the CPR. The employees were waiting for train to take them East, Royal Canadian Mounted Police / Library and Archives Canada / e004666096
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation LAC/e002505525
"Then came the final day when Donald Smith drove a gold [sic] spike into the heart of the Rockies, and ended them."
The railway united the country. One week later the country was divided.
"Stand fast, Craigellachie!"
"All I can say is that the work has been done well in every way."
Sir William Van Horne
Provincial Archives of Manitoba
Sir John A. Macdonald and his wife at Stave River, B.C, during their trip to British Columbia in July 1886
"We are not to be limited to Halifax, Quebec, Montreal or British Columbia, whether it be Port Moody or Victoria – the termini of the Canadian Pacific Railway are Liverpool and Hong-Kong."
Sir John A. Macdonald, Victoria, 1886
Blackfeet at Earnscliffe. "Front row", left to right: North Axe, Peigan Chief, One Spot, Blood sub-chief. "Middle row", left to right: Three Bulls, half brother of Crowfoot, Crowfoot, Blackfoot Chief, Red Cloud, Blood Chief. "Back row", left to right: Father Lacombe, John L'Heureux, interpreter. LAC Canada. Dept. of the Interior, PA-045666, 1886
[Sir John A. Macdonald met Crowfoot at Gleichen and asked him to visit Ottawa in October., July 1886]
View of the Rockies. Vue des montagnes Rocheuses. Lucius Richard O'Brian, LAC Acc. No. 1989-514-3, 1887
Punch, London, 15 October 1887
The Field Hotel below Mount Stephen. L'Hôtel Field situé au pied du Mont Stephen. LAC R9266-350 Collection de Canadiana Peter Winkworth, Edward Roper, ca. 1887
"It may be said, without any exaggeration whatever, that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the date he entered Parliament, is the History of Canada, for he was connected and associated with all the events, all the facts which brought Canada from a position it then occupied – the position of two small provinces, having nothing in common but their allegiance, united by a bond of paper, and united by nothing else – to the present state of development which Canada has reached."
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, House of Commons Debates, 8 June 1891
"To some Britons, the CPR seemed the key to the unity not only of Canada but of their whole Empire, for it offered a new service and all-Red route to the Orient."
"If we were to follow the laws of nature and geography between Canada and the United States, the whole trade would flow from south to north, and from north to south. We have done everything possible by building canals and subsidizing railways, to bring the trade from west to east, and from east to west, so as to bring trade into British channels."
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, at the Imperial Conference, 1907
1908 Election All Red Line MTPL
"No single work of any man in any part of the world at any period of the world's history has so obviously and directly contributed to the making of a nation as the transcontinental railway in Canada."
C. P. Lucas, 1912
A group of workers; Canadian, American, Swedish, Italian and Scots in a C.N.R. construction Camp. Groupe de travailleurs : Canadiens, Américains, Suédois, Italiens et Écossais dans un baraquement de chantier des Chemins de fer nationaux du Canada. LAC Frontier College C-046150, 1913
Ready Made Farms in Western Canada - Get your home in Canada from the Canadian Pacific. LAC, Acc. No. 1990-106-3, London, England artist unknown ca. 1925
Canadian Pacific - Picturesque Route by Fast Steamers & Trains to Japan & China. LAC Acc. No. 1990-106-13, Odin Rosenvinge, 1925
SIXTY YEARS OF PROGRESS
Time, Montreal, 29 October 1945
"Our national railway is the basic institution of our history, the thread that stitched the provinces together and made Canada possible. It is the elemental symbol of Canadian unity."
George Radwanski and Julia Luttrell, The Will of a Nation, 1992
Gordon Lightfoot, The Railroad Trilogy