During my recent visit to BC, I had the chance to revisit the historic Last Spike Monument celebrating the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.
If you’re patient enough to wait for a passing train and give the engineer a friendly wave he’ll give you a spine-tingling whistle blast.
Donald Smith, the Lord Strathcona, driving the last spike in what is one of the most historic moments in Canadian history. Donald who emigrated to Canada as a lowly employee of the Hudson Bay Company and would labour as such in obscurity for 30 years in Labrador, became HBC’s largest shareholder and one of the world’s richest men. He pledged his personal wealth to complete the CPR when the project became nationally bankrupt. First Chairman of the Bank of Montreal, he would go on to found the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the forerunner of today’s British Petroleum. Late in life he would use his influence as Canadian High Commissioner in London to promote British emigration to western Canada.
Imagine trying to get environmental and aboriginal approval for such a nation building project in today’s Canada. Virtually impossible!!! Thank god for the Victorians!!
Big shout out to my host Leta who went out of her way to make the visit happen!!