ARCHIVED - Donald Smith drives the last spike at Craigellachie, 1885 - The Canadian West - Exhibitions - Library and Archives Canada
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Donald Smith drives the last spike at Craigellachie
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Donald Smith drives the last spike at Craigellachie

Pierre Berton has made the "last spike" into a watershed in Canadian history, but in fact it was a rather anticlimactic gesture. The last spike was made of iron, not the customary gold. Moreover, the price of building the transcontinental railroad had been high: it cost the Canadian government 10.4 million hectares of the best Prairie land; an estimated $63.5 million in public funds and government loans of $35 million; not to mention the displacement of Canada's First Nations and the lost lives of many immigrant labourers.

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