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The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 Paperback – Aug 14 2001


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The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 + The National Dream: The Great Railway, 1871-1881 + Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Canada; 1 edition (Aug. 14 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385658419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385658416
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.2 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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The Last Spike, winner of a Governor General's award for non-fiction, is the second of Pierre Berton's lively two-volume history of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Sequel to The National Dream, which was on best-seller lists for 80 weeks, The Last Spike finishes the story of how a fledgling nation pushed over 3,000 kilometres of steel across the continent in record time. Berton, author of 47 books and Canada's best-known historian, brings the tale to vivid life with comical anecdotes and sparkling characters. The massive railway was started only after a bitter and drawn-out national debate full of scandal, corruption, and backroom warfare. The wrangling wrecked the health of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, who broke down with bowel cramps and could not be present when the Governor General finally approved the railway bill for which Macdonald had worked so hard.

Berton excels at recreating the hardscrabble, sometimes brutal realities of the 19th-century frontier and the bizarre, determined, and unscrupulous personalities behind "the Syndicate," the tycoons who masterminded the colossal project. Among them was W. C. Van Horne, the CPR's general manager, a ruthless, cold-eyed marathon poker enthusiast who constantly sucked on Havana cigars. Few Canadians were unaffected by the project. The railway became the spine of life west of Winnipeg for the next century and gave the CPR something close to absolute control over scores of communities. Some 800 villages, towns, and cities sprung up along the right of way, including Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, and Brandon. Construction also brought a flood of settlers, entrepreneurs, and speculators who displaced the First Nations peoples. Winnipeg, with a population of 16,000, had no fewer than 3,000 real estate dealers. "No other company, with the single exception of the Hudson's Bay, has had such an influence on the destinies of the nation," Berton writes in this deft and entertaining narrative. --Alex Roslin

Review

"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

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Inside This Book

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First Sentence
The bitterest and longest parliamentary wrangle in the history of the young Canadian nation ended on February 15, 1881, when the contract to build the Canadian Pacific Railway finally received royal assent. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. McNabb on Feb. 28 2011
Format: Paperback
This and its companion, The National Dream are must reads for adult Canadians. Beautifully and lovingly written. No one but Pierre Berton could have told these stories.
If you are an adult Canadian, you should read this slice of our history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brent Wiley on July 13 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are from western Canada and only have time to read just one of Pierre Berton's outstanding contributions to Canadian history, this book is for you. It is the best history book that I've read, from ANY country's past!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Railway was of great importance in connecting the Pacific Ocean to Ontario and Eastern Canada.
Great Book! - Floyd Gunter.
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Format: Kindle Edition
An interesting side note ... much of the research done for this book was done by Norm Kelly, the Toronto Alderman who replaced Rob Ford in Toronto as the 'acting' mayor after Ford was stripped of much of his power. Mr. Kelly was given the option of either a cheque for his efforts researching the book or a portion of the royalties. Unfortunately for Kelly, he took the cheque.
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By Margaret sanders on Aug. 16 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because I am going to cross Canada by rail in September. This book was very enlightening and will make my trip more interesting
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