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The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  305 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
In the four years between 1881 and 1885, Canada was forged into one nation by the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Last Spike reconstructs the incredible story of how some 2,000 miles of steel crossed the continent in just five years — exactly half the time stipulated in the contract. Pierre Berton recreates the adventures that were part of this vast undertaki ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 14th 2001 by Anchor Canada (first published 1971)
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Szplug
Apr 23, 2012 Szplug rated it really liked it
Shelves: canada-eh
Pierre Berton was one of Canada's most popular historians, from the Donald Creighton school which opted for abandoning footnotes and references and dry overviews in favor of relating history like a good story—full of anecdote and big personalities—written more to appeal to fiction lovers than scholars. People have nitpicked about inaccuracies and liberties that Berton has taken with his subject matter over the years, but that overlooks his towering strength: the ability to make potentially dull ...more
Daren Doucet
Nov 08, 2013 Daren Doucet rated it really liked it
If any country in the world had leaders like this, they would have a truly great country!

William Cornelius Van Horne, George Stephen, and Sir John A MacDonald strive to create a National Dream. Linking the Canadian landscape from coast to coast, by steel rails.

Huge problems existed as with any monumental project,such as the nearly impregnable pass through the Rockies, and the Lake Superior route. With debt problems mounting, and many creditors knocking at their door, it appeared the railway coul
...more
Dennis Osborne
Feb 25, 2014 Dennis Osborne rated it it was amazing
I first read this book 25 yrs ago and it remains a fascinating read. This book needs to be read in conjunction with the National Dream and concerns the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This book is more on the building of the railway, whereas the National Dream is more focused on the politics- both excellent reads
Ty Keith
Feb 18, 2013 Ty Keith rated it it was amazing
I found this to be a very accessible history considering that as a native of the southern United States I am not part of the book's target audience. My limited exposure to Canadian history did not hinder my enjoyment of the material. The inclusion of a characters list and a time-line certainly helped to move me along in my reading of the book, but most of all the solid writing was the book's greatest asset.
Gordon James
Great work of history by an engaging writer.
Sean MacUisdin
Sep 29, 2012 Sean MacUisdin rated it really liked it
A bit of a slow start, but it rolled along quite well. The only disappointment was the lack of detail in the every day life of railway construction. There was some, with a chapter for the Chinese and one for the surveyors, but more time was spent on the political and economic aspects of it. Still, quite enjoyable.
Jen
Aug 18, 2012 Jen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, non-fiction
Awesome. Like my dad says "the way he writes is like having a conversation." I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but now Berton is high on my radar in this genre. I think all Canadians should know this history because it really seems like a big part of how we became united as a country.
Larry
Jun 13, 2016 Larry rated it it was amazing
Captivating and well-written book. This provides a full description of the building of the CPR railroad and in doing so provides a picture of Canada in the late 19th century, including Sir John A. Macdonald, the Northwest real estate boom, and the Riel Rebellion.
Jbondandrews
Jun 23, 2013 Jbondandrews rated it really liked it
I think that this was a very good follow up to the National Dream. Pierre Berton wrote quite a good two volume work about the building of the transcontinental railway.
Abid
Aug 28, 2010 Abid rated it liked it
A fine book about our country's unique history in the 1880's, written by one of the hotest ladies men I know of...(seriously, his dong was longer than the CPR line!)
Ian Green
Sep 12, 2014 Ian Green rated it really liked it
Pierre Burton is simply the best Canadian historical writer. Reads like a fiction, extremely well researched.
Doug
Aug 10, 2016 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the continuation of the building of Canada's railroad ans a major part of Canada's history
Debbie
Aug 11, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
Another rivetting book by Pierre Berton on the building of the great Canadian railroad. Loved it.
Bryan
Mar 14, 2010 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Read this a long time ago, back when I wrote an essay on this topic in grade 8.
Ibis3
Aug 02, 2010 Ibis3 marked it as to-read
Edition irrelevant.2005-06-08
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From narrative histories and popular culture, to picture and coffee table books to anthologies, to stories for children to readable, historical works for youth, many of his books are now Canadian classics.

Born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the
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