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1880-1890 - Introduction
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Ref Number
R-B4291
Item Date
1885


On November 7th, 1885 the 'last spike' completing the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven by Donald Smith.


The decade between 1880 and 1890 saw two very significant events happen in the West. Both the North-West Rebellion and the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) would have a major impact on Saskatchewan. In the short term the rebellion was one of the factors that kept people from immigrating to the West, but in the long run it was the completion of the CPR, linking Canada from sea to sea, that opened the West to settlement.

While there were a few attempts by wealthy individuals and colonization companies to establish settlements in places such as Cannington Manor, the massive influx of homesteaders that Prime Minister Macdonald envisioned did not occur. The Métis unrest, the economic depression, and the easy availability of American land kept the homesteaders away from Saskatchewan.

While Macdonald did not live to see his dream of western settlement fulfilled, he was able to see one element of the National Policy completed on November 7, 1885 when the last spike was driven to complete the CPR. The execution of Riel on November 16, 1885 and the completion of the railway signalled an end to one culture on the prairies and the beginning of another.

Document Details
Reference Number:
R-B4291
Media Type:
photograph
Keywords:
Railway Construction; Last Spike; CPR


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