Hundreds of thousands of dollars were needed to build the transcontinental railway. Because the railway was one of the conditions of British Columbia’s joining Confederation, John A. Macdonald’s government mobilized all its resources to carry it out.
Two groups bid for the highly lucrative construction contract; one of them gave the Prime Minister a large sum of money in order to get his support. When the affair became known, Macdonald was forced to resign.
The government that succeeded him was not as eager to finish the railway. The project was revitalized in 1878, when Macdonald came back to power. The contract was given to the private sector.