Archives On The Air 68: Canada Connected Coast To Coast—Burt Buffum Papers

Sep 24, 2018

Early map of the Canadian Pacific Railway, printed on a lantern slide, undated. Box 39, B.C. Buffum Papers.
Credit American Heritage Center

Most Americans know about the U.S. Transcontinental Railway. But did you know that Canada has its own coast-to-coast railroad known as the Canadian Pacific Railway?

A map in the Burt Buffum Papers shows the railway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts along Canada’s southern border. The final spike was driven into the Railway in 1885.

The railway also has routes into the U.S. These routes were bought after the railway was built. The original route would have crossed into the U.S. between the Great Lakes and gone through a large part of the Midwest.

But the Canadian Pacific Railway never got its route through the U.S. Instead a path was built through the treacherous northern Rocky Mountains. Upon completion, the railway traveled only through Canada itself.

Thanks to the railway, Western Canada saw a spike in settlement.

Extensive documents on railways in Canada and the United States can be found at UW’s American Heritage Center.