The Kids Book of Canada’s Railway and How the CPR Was Built
by Deborah Hodge
We stumbled across this book at the Friends of Jasper National Park gift store in Jasper, British Columbia. Buddy became engrossed in the illustrations immediately. I purchased it for him and to our delight, it became very useful when we discovered the Spiral Tunnel in Yoho National Park. Prior to this trip we weren’t familiar with this engineering marvel – I had heard of similar tunnels in Norway but I didn’t know they existed in North America.
Buddy was spellbound. Though it was very cold we waited for a train to pass through the tunnels while we were there. Fortunately, on the drive to the viewpoint from Lake Louise, we had passed by two trains traveling in that direction so we knew if we were patient enough, our efforts would be rewarded.
November 7, 1885, marked the completion of one of the longest, most expensive, most challenging engineering feats in the world — the Canadian Pacific Railway. A ribbon of steel now united Canada from east to west. It took 30,000 workers less than five years to cross the wild land. Working from both directions, teams of railroad workers laid track and blasted through the mountains. When they finally broke through, the teams were within centimeters of matching perfectly.
This is the story of Canada’s first transcontinental railway and the thousands of people who made the dream of a united Canada a reality. This is also a look at the freight trains, school trains, troop trains and passenger trains that helped shape a country, the people who worked and rode on them and what our railway system looks like today. We’ve read it several times – it is fast becoming a favorite.
On our drive home, my little guy talked endlessly about the trains and began to describe a model that he planned to build upon our return. He got started right away, collecting materials for the track (small sticks) and landscape (old pine cones for trees). I was very impressed with his ingenuity and how well he and his sister worked together. She had asked him if she could help and he was delighted.
Needless to say, we were very impressed with the prevalence of Canada’s railways and look forward to a future transcontinental journey aboard a passenger train.