The last spike was driven into the last rail on November 7, 1885. Work had been started in the East and the West. The rails were to link up in the middle. It was on this day that the two rails finally reached each other. With this last spike, a coast-to-coast railway was born.
I Was There
In the crowd of workers and dignitaries waiting to commemorate the occasion was 17-year-old Edward Mallandaine. Fifty years later, he remembered this special day:
"Soon there remained but a single rail to be laid. ... The spectators, numbering probably fifty outside of the workmen, intently watched each spike as it was driven. Finally, there remained but one more spike to be driven. It was partly driven in and a hammer was given to Sir Donald Smith to drive it home... in a most workmanlike manner.... Everybody cheered; the locomotives whistled and shrieked; several short speeches were made; hands were shaken, and Major Rogers, the discoverer of the pass named after him, became so gleeful that he up-ended a huge tie and tried to mark the spot by the side of the track by sticking it in the ground."
C.P. Staff Bulletin, by Edward Mallandaine, Feb. 1939. From the book Canadian Railway Stories: 100 Years of History and Lore, by Adolf & Okan Hungry Wolf. Skookumchuck, B.C.: Good Medicine Books, 1985, p. 64, 65
The 17-year-old boy who watched Donald Smith drive the last spike, had come to the Kicking Horse Pass to fight in the Northwest Rebellion. But the fight was over by the time he arrived. Edward stayed and started his own business. He rode a pony between Eagle Pass Landing and the town of Farwell, delivering supplies and newspapers to the workers on the railway and picking up mail and orders. He made money doing this throughout the summer and until the railway was finished, at the beginning of November 1885. Edward went on to become Col. Edward Mallandaine, magistrate and politician of Creston, B.C.
Workmen pose for their own Last Spike Ceremony
The Last Spike Ceremony. Edward Mallandaine is peeking out from behind Donald Smith, who is holding the hammer
I Was There
"I was not present at that ceremony. I was too busily engaged, as were the other engineers, in packing up and getting ready to leave. "We carefully looked over the clothing in our dunnage bags, and picked out what we thought was the most respectable to travel in; and discarded the rest.
"A coat which Duggan had discarded caught my eye. It was made of bottle-green corduroy, and looked to me much better than the coat I had. So I picked it up and put it on. It was thus in Duggan's cast-off coat that I traveled east."
When the Steel Went Through: Reminiscences of a Railroad Pioneer, by P. Turner Bone. Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1947, p. 115
Although the railway was supposed to take ten years to build, it was completed six years ahead of schedule. Van Horne and countless thousands had done the impossible.
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