[Continuing a series of short excerpts from The Story of Canada, the recently republished history of Canada for kids and families that makes such a good Christmas gift.]
from Chapter 7: Confederation Days
"Ten years after George-Etienne Cartier's rash promise, work on the railway had barely begun. During the election of 1872, Sir John A. accepted money from the "railway barons," businessmen who wanted the contract to build the new line. When he was found out, he had to resign in disgrace. The second prime minister of Canada, Alexander Mackenzie, called the railway "an act of insane recklessness." It looked as if he was right.
"The Canadian Pacific Railway was the most ambitious railway project in the world. It was going to cost a fortune. Tracks had to be pushed through the rock and muskeg of northern Ontario, across the prairie, and through the mountains. No one even knew if passes suitable for railway lines existed in British Columbia's mountain ranges. For years, surveyors had scrambled up and down the slopes and valleys in search of a route. The obstacles seemed insurmountable.
"Then an American "railway general" named William Van Horne became manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway...."