The Canadian Pacific Railway Essay, Research Paper
Sir John A. Macdonald had a vision, it was to join the eastern and the western of
Canada with a steel ribbon to make a railway. British Columbia said that they
would join Canada if Macdonald didn t fall back on his promise. Before the
railway to get from east to west you would have to travel by boat, horse and cart,
by foot or you could take a train that went most of the way through the United
States. Macdonald s promise was that the railway would be built within ten years
which is unheard of. Macdonald promised this because if British Columbia didn t
get a way of getting east faster they would probably join the United States.
John A. Macdonald dreamed of covering the parries with settlers but he
needed to have a railway. The railway would allow farmers to bring their goods to
eastern market. This would not be possible without the railway so it needed to be
Subsequent to the election of 1872, Macdonald and the Conservatives now
concentrated on the railway being built. They would have their work cut out for
them. They needed to hire Surveyors to find the best route through the swamps,
forests, plains, and mountains. They would need to hire expert engineers to build
tunnels and bridges. And they would also need thousands of workers to set down
A bunch of people under Hugh Allan formed the Canadian Pacific Railway
Company to build the railway. Allan was heard to be the richest man in Canada.
But soon after there was trouble for Sir John A. Macdonald.
Papers stolen from Hugh Allen by a former employee. People said that
these papers proved that Hugh Allen and his group gave large amounts of money
to Macdonald s government. So it looked like Hugh Allen was buying the right
for his company to build the railway. The Conservatives admitted that Hugh Allen
gave them large amounts of money but that was just a gift but the Liberals said it
was a bribe most Canadians agreed with the Liberals and this event was known as
the Pacific Scandal which made the Conservatives resign. John A. Macdonald s
dream looked far and appeared that it would never be built. During the Mackenzie
years great economic depression set in and lots of shops went out of business and
people were unhappy.
In the next election of 1878 John A. Macdonald introduced a National
Policy to solve the country s problems. It mainly stated that Canadians buy form
Canada instead of from the United States. Fill the parries with settlers. Let them
buy manufactured goods made in eastern Canada. Let them Sell their agricultural
products to eastern Canadians. The Conservatives won the election and the
building started again.
William Van Horne was hired to supervise the railway construction
process, he was very brilliant and helped with building the CRP considerably. The
building of the track was very organized, stations sprang up all along the route. At
least 1500 km of steel was laid on the prairies in fifteen months.
The path of the railroad crossed through Blackfoot land which made them
angry . Father Lacombe talked with the Blackfoot and the Blackfoot agreed that
they could use their land and Van Horne was so pleased that he gave Crowfoot a
lifetime pass for use of all the Canadian Pacific Railway. Crowfoot was pleased
with this gift and wore it around his neck on a chain for the rest of his life.
People needed land, they needed land near railway stations but they didn t
know where they were going to be so people started buying land like crazy where
they thought a station would be, this was known as the Manitoba land boom.
There where building problems when they reached the northern Ontario. It
was easy to lay track on the parries where it is flat but long the mountains is a
totally different story. It cost 7.5 million dollars worth of dynamite to clear away
all the granite in Ontario. They also used nitroglycerin as explosives which is very
dangerous, it explodes with the slightest movement. It could not be carried by
wagons so people had to put it in bottles then carry it on their backs, many people
lots their lives from this dangerous task.
Building in British Columbia was the most difficult and the most
dangerous. Many bridges where built and some looked so fragile that some
engineers refused to cross them. There where spots so narrow that what the
workers walked across they walked in single line hanging on to the tails of their
Chinese workers where coming to help build the railway. The Chinese had
separate camps where they where fed less got less pay and where treated very
poorly. Some of the other workers didn t like the Chinese because of what they
looked like and of their clothing. The Chinese got most of the dangerous jobs and
it was very unfair.
The CPRC was low on money and didn t have enough to finish the project.
Workers refused to work until they got paid. They started to rebel so the RCMP
had to be called in. George Stephen and Donald Smith gathered up all there
money and sold some of their possessions and gathered up 1 million dollars which
would last for about three weeks. John A. Macdonald convinced the government
for one last final loan. The government gave them a loan which was just enough
The last spike was driven in at 9:22 a.m. on November 1885 by Donald
Smith. The ceremony took place at Eagle Pass at Craigellachie, British Columbia.
When Donald Smith, who spent almost his every penny on the railway, lifted the
hammer to drive it to the ground. The first time he hit the spike, he bent it.
Another was put in its place. He drove that spike down with gentle taps, then
every one cheered.