YourToyTrains President, Clyde Smith, is now reading The National Dream, a book by one of Canada's greatest historians on railway history, Pierre Berton. In 1869 the United States had built the first transcontinental railroad in North America. Canada, which had just "confederated", had Prime Minister Macdonald promise a railway would be built to British Columbia "within 10 years" to convince BC to join the Confederation.
But who would build this railroad? A leading Canadian industrialist(name withheld. Please look it up...), who would later disgrace himself due to his perfidy, entered a secret agreement with Jay Cooke, the American financier, who was heavily involved in the building of the Northern Pacific Railroad across the northern US. From the Canadian's point of view, besides making money, he felt (and many others felt this way as well) a railroad across the Canadian Shield north of the Great Lakes was not practical. From Jay Cooke's point of view, he was motivated by money as well, but also patriotism. It was thought if the Northern Pacific sent branches into Western Canada it was only a matter of time, like a ripe peach, the western region of Canada, then basically "uninhabited" (except Metis and First Nations people) ,would fall into American possession.
In the 19th Century bribery was a very much used tool to get projects done, and the American investors had no problem giving hundreds of thousands of dollars through a Canadian intermediary to buy politicians and newspapermen. Obviously if you go to Western Canada you can see this plot was foiled. Reading Mr. Berton's wonderful book will shed more light on this fascinating period of Canadian history.
As an American, I love my country but I love Canada as well. While I know those heady days of the 19th Century were built by men of brawn, vision, and perseverance (Both Canadians and Americans), I am still a bit sad bribery and corruption was in the mix of how to "get things done".
Just a little Canadian history. Courtesy YourToyTrains