In 1852, Sandford Fleming presented the Canadian government with a project to build a railway line all the way to the Pacific. However, the priority at the time was the railway link with the Maritime provinces.
Almost 20 years were to go by before the federal government asked Fleming to plan the route of a transcontinental railway covering over 4,000 kilometres to the Pacific. Fleming produced a territorial inspection report and recommended the Yellowhead Pass across the Rocky Mountains.
The Canadian Pacific did not follow this suggestion, which was later taken up by the Canadian Northern Railway and the Grand Trunk. Fleming was excluded from the project in 1880.
In 1883, as construction was stalled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Pacific asked Fleming to recommend a new route south of his original suggestion.
This time, the engineer recommended Kicking Horse Pass. The last spike was finally driven at Craighellachie, British Columbia, in 1885. Sandford Fleming, who helped build the railway and was both a shareholder and a director of the company, attended the ceremony and appears in the famous photograph that immortalized the moment.
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