On behalf of the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Mr. Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Mr. Fred Green, Canadian Pacific President and CEO, today recognized the 125th anniversary of one the most significant moments in Canadian history, the driving of the Last Spike, which completed the country’s first trans-continental railway.
Marking this important occasion, Mr. Del Mastro and Mr. Green hammered a symbolic spike at Craigellachie, British Columbia, accompanied by members of the Shuswap Nation, area mayors, local schools, and special guests from Lord Strathcona Horse Regiment (Royal Canadians) and the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.
“The Last Spike represents the single most important construction project in the history of our country and also the most influential in the development of Canada’s national identity. It represents the completion of the railway and the fulfillment of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s promise to British Columbia to connect the province to the rest of Canada by rail,” said Mr. Del Mastro, who also noted that the CP played a critical role in establishing Canada’s first national park, Banff, 125 years ago.
As Donald Smith, later known as Lord Strathcona, drove home the Last Spike to complete Canada’s first transcontinental railway on November 7, 1885, the country ceased to be, in the words of Macdonald, “a mere geographic expression.” Against formidable odds, the ribbon of steel rail united the new province of British Columbia with the more populous centres in the East.
“It is with extreme pride that I stand here with Mr. Del Mastro on this very special day,” said Mr. Green, CP’s 16th President. “This iconic event marked an important chapter in our history, but also signalled the innovation the railway would bring to the country over the ensuing decades. We honour the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have worked so hard over the last 125 years to make CP and Canada what it is today. Our work continues to make history every day - from driving the last spike to driving the digital railway.”
In 2011 Parks Canada will celebrate the 125th anniversary of both Glacier and Yoho national parks and the 100th anniversary of the national parks service. National parks and national historic sites represent the very best that Canada has to offer. These special places contribute to Canada’s vibrant tourism industry and exceptional reputation around the world.