Today in World History: November 7th

The last spike was driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway on this day in 1885. Following Canadian independence and its expansion towards the Pacific Ocean, the idea of a train system connecting Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific became a national dream, and a main issue in politics. The railway began construction in 1881 as part of a promise to British Columbia to connect it to Central Canada upon its joining the country. The construction of the railway saw mass immigration, specifically from China, as poorly paid workers were forced to do labor in dangerous conditions and throughout natural disasters that rocked Western Canada every so often. The construction of the railway and its planning was also a contentious topic in the Canadian budget, as the railway companies in Canada wen t bankrupt and were bailed out by the government. The last spike signaled the end of a period in Canada that saw thousands of immigrant workers forced to work in poor conditions, and financial and natural disasters that rocked the country. The railroad became hugely influential on life in the West, as immigrants moving to Canada from Europe could travel farther inland, settling in previously empty provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta. The railroad was also instrumental in moving Canadian soldiers to end the North-West Rebellion and the induction of Manitoba and Saskatchewan into the country.


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