The Last Spike

Pierre Berton won the 1971 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction for this history of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Pierre Berton

In the four years between 1881 and 1885, Canada was forged into one nation by the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Last Spike reconstructs the incredible story of how some 2,000 miles of steel crossed the continent in just five years — exactly half the time stipulated in the contract. Pierre Berton recreates the adventures that were part of this vast undertaking: the railway on the brink of bankruptcy, with one hour between it and ruin; the extraordinary land boom of Winnipeg in 1881-1882; and the epic tale of how William Van Horne rushed 3,000 soldiers over a half-finished railway to quell the Riel Rebellion. (From Anchor Canada)

The Last Spike won the 1971 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Author interviews

Pierre Berton: the writer at home

37 years ago
Duration 8:42
Featured VideoBerton produces his books of popular history at his peaceful rural retreat in Kleinburg, Ont.