The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 (Paperback)

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 By Pierre Berton Cover Image

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 (Paperback)

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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 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.
Born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon, PIERRE BERTON worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He spent his early newspaper career in Vancouver, where at 21 he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily. He wrote columns for and was editor of Maclean's magazine, appeared on CBC's public affairs program "Close-Up" and was a permanent fixture on "Front Page Challenge" for 39 years. He was a columnist and editor for the Toronto Star and was a writer and host of a series of CBC programs. For his immense contribution to Canadian literature and history Berton has received a dozen honourary degrees, was a member of the Newsman's Hall of Fame, and was a Companion of the Order of Canada. Pierre Berton passed away in Toronto on November 30, 2004.
Product Details ISBN: 9780385658416
ISBN-10: 0385658419
Publisher: Anchor Canada
Publication Date: August 14th, 2001
Pages: 496
Language: English
"No novel could surpass The Last Spike for plot; no western for wildness... This is a great book."
Vancouver Sun

"Lively, human and utterly absorbing."
The Financial Post