The Last Spike Provincial Park along Trans-Canada Highway 1 provides a nice rest stop for tourists. The park museum is located in Craigellachie, a few kilometres west of the Eagle Pass summit between Revelstoke and Sicamous, BC. While exploring these mountains in the summer of 1865, Walter Moberly, assistant surveyor-general of British Columbia, noted the flight of eagles through a break in the Gold Range (Monashees), therby discovering Eagle Pass. After 1881, Eagle Pass was chosen as the Canadian Pacific Railway’s route between the drainage basins of the Columbia and Fraser rivers. This was one of the last stretches of the railway to be completed, and on 7 November 1885 Sir Donald Smith drove the “last spike” here in the pass, at Craigellachie.
The Last Spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was the final spike driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway at Craigellachie, British Columbia at 9:22 am on November 7, 1885—a sullen, bone-chilling day with wet snow hanging from the conifers and the mountaintops hidden in cloud—prior to the CPR opening inauguration in June 1886.
The Last Spike was driven in by CPR railroad financier Donald A. Smith, the eldest of the four directors from the CPR at that time. The ceremony was over in minutes. No public figure attended the hammering of the last spike. There were no speeches, no refreshments, no bands. It was an event staged by a group of businessmen—and done as quickly and dourly as possible—to mark the completion of a privately owned railway. The CPR, on the lip of bankruptcy, could afford no frills. A glorious achievement, just nine days before one of the darkest moments in Canadian history: the hanging of Louis Riel, the most controversial complex Canadian politican, who was labeled as a traitor but was recognized decades later as the Founder (Father) of Province Manitoba.
The Canadian Pacific was built for the purpose of making money for the shareholders and for no other purpose. Once the line was completed, the CPR hired teams of writers, marketers and immigration promoters to sell Europe’s poor on the idea of immigrating to the Canadian West and the wealthy of Europe and the United States on the idea of holidaying in the Canadian Eden. It built luxury hotels, created a global steamship line to bring people and goods to the country, and sent lecturers and exhibition vans to tour Europe with pamphlets, photographs and the new technology of moving pictures, including 13 dramatic films made by the Edison Company in the early 1900s featuring dramatic plots set against the impressive backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was forced to resign some years before the Last Spike after the Opposition Liberals discovered he had taken substantial political donations from financiers to whom he had given the railway contract.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Map & Driving Direction
Exact location of The Last Spike parking lot is indicated by Green Arrow on the following map (click EXTERNAL LINK below to view map).