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Photograph of Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon

Source

Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon, author and train traveller, April 1891

Photograph of workers building the railway in Ontario or Manitoba, around 1909

Source

Railway under construction, Ontario or Manitoba, around 1909

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Building a Railway

Engineering

Construction

Yeah Canada!

When Cornelius Van Horne, the person in charge of building the Canadian Pacific Railway, saw the land north of Lake Superior, he called it "'two hundred miles of engineering impossibility.' His workers had to cut down hills, fill in swamps, blast through very hard granite, and lower lake levels. In one very swampy area, sections of track sunk in seven times and three locomotives were swallowed up."

Flashback Canada, by J. Bradley Cruxton. Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press, ©2000, p. 159

I Was There

"One of the engineers told me he had seen stones thrown thirteen hundred feet from a cutting. They use nitro-glycerine, and have had several serious accidents while handling it. One poor lad who was carrying a can weighing fifty pounds up the dump, tripped, and was blown to atoms; part of one foot stuck in the fork of a tree about a hundred feet off, being all that was found of him. A man lost his sight and one arm from merely striking a rock where some of the horrid stuff had been spilt."

A Trip to Manitoba: Or, Roughing It on the Line, by Mary Fitzgibbon. Toronto: Rose- Belford Publishing, 1880, p. 163

Yeah Canada!

On July 28, 1883, tracklayers laid a record 6.38 miles of finished railway in one day. This record for manual labour on a railway has never been beaten.

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