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The Last Spike by Pierre Berton
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The Last Spike (1971)

by Pierre Berton

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The meat of the story where Canada's first national railway is concerned, detailing its construction following all the politics of "The National Dream". This volume is much more engaging: seeking paths through mountain ranges, traversing the muskeg of northern Ontario, and the incredible pace at which tracks were laid across the prairies. Politics remain an important factor however, as the project, its budget and public opinion are all closely monitored. This book landed several Alberta and British Columbia locations on my map of "places to visit someday". ( )
  Cecrow | Dec 14, 2007 |
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"Late events have shown us that we are made one people by that road, that that iron link has bound us together in such a way that we stand superior to most of the shafts of ill-fortune." - Sir John A. McDonald, June, 1885
"All I can say is that the work has been done very well in every way." - W. C. Van Horne, at Craigellachie
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The men in the picture are like old friends, even though their names may not be familiar.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385658419, Paperback)

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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

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