Canada and VanHorne

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by MasonJar, May 31, 2005.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Interesting articles Andrew. Thanks for the links.
  3. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Thanks for sharing the links Andrew. :wave: :wave:
  4. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Very interesting articles Andrew. Thanks for the great read! :)

  5. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    I wish these reporters would get things right! William C. Van Horne was not hired by the Canadian government. He was hired by the CPR syndicate after they had had a horrible year in 1881 with constructing their railway line. Van Horne was hired by the CPR's George Stephen and Van Horne, in turn, hired William Shaughnessy. Van Horne pushed the track across the prairies and Shaughnessy held the creditors at bay while still being able to acquire supplies and materials to build the railway line.

    Shaughnessy purchased all kinds of rails, track materials, and supplies during the winter of 1882 and stock-piled them in Winnipeg so that they were out of reach of the creditors. When the season opened in 1882, Van Horne organized the work so that you had the famous construction techniques that were used in building subsequent railway lines.

    Van Horne was a person of vision who could sniff out a way to make a buck out of a sow's ear. The Banff Springs Hotel was first established in 1886 by Van Horne. When he later retired from the CPR, he went to Cuba and was responsible for building most of the railway lines in Cuba.

    Shaughnessy succeeded Van Horne as President of the CPR and continued with his penny-pinching ways, even when the CPR was afloat with cash. While Van Horne is given lots of credit for building the line, it was Shaughnessy who fended off the creditors and contractors with a multitude of tricks. When he found an error in the volumes of excavation on one invoice from one contractor, he immediately had an investigation done of all of the contractors' invoices. This gave the CPr an extra 6 months of time.

    Of course, the saviour of the day was Louis Riel, a Métis, who caused an uprising for the second time in Manitoba (today Saskatchewan) in the area of North Battleford. At that time, the CPR was completely out of cash and ready to declare bankruptcy. Sir John A. MacDonald, prime minister of the day, was waffling about lending more money to the CPR.

    With the shots being fired at North Battleford, Van Horne promised to transport all of the Canadian troops along the uncompleted CPR line from Central Ontario to Manitoba. With the quelling of the Riel Rebellion in record time, the government lent the CPR the $5 million it needed and thus avoided a major financial crisis. Riel, for his troubles, was hung. Just recently, he was recognized as being one of the fathers of confederation.

    If you want to read a complete history of Van Horne, I would suggest two books - "Van Horne's Road" by Omer Lavallée, and "Lords of the Line". There is also a new book just recently out by Valerie Knowles, I believe the title is "From Telegraph Operator to Titan" which is a most comprehensive book on Van Horne.

    Bob M.

    PS - Grizzlies habituate the east side of the mountains so you won't find grizzlies on the west side of the mountains. It's the black bears that are on the west side. And, unfortunatly, there is no lager which is called "Grizzly Beer".
  6. galt904

    galt904 Member

    I've been reading Pierre Berton's The National Dream and The Last Spike. Van Horne was certainly a multifaceted character with many talents and interests! Wonder how he found time for all his interests?

    Also, I thought Battleford was in the NWT prior to becoming part of Saskatchewan, Manitoba being just a "postage stamp" on the map prior to it expanding to it's present borders?
  7. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    North Battleford, being part of the Hudson's Bay basin was part of Rupert's Land which was owned by the Hudson's Bay Company. There's an article in today's National Post about the acquisition of Rupert's Land in 1870 and the Deed of Surrender. I believe it then became part of Manitoba but was later sliced off as the Province of Saskatchewan.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Bob, there's quite a buzz about the new Van Horne biography over on the CP SIG. Sounds like a great book. if anyone's interested. You don't have to be a member of the SIG to join the mailing group.

  10. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Belonging to the Ottawa Railway History Circle, I know Valerie Knowles husband quite well. David was talking on many occasions about the work that Val had been doing on the book. And her approach was not from the railfan's perspective which I think has resulted in a different look at Van Horne. She is an exerienced writer and journalist. The book has been many years in the making as Val has done very extensive research on Van Horne. She had unlimited access to Van Horne's personal papers and she travelled quite extensively gathering her information.

    Then she took her time meticulously writing the book. While some people might consider it a lengthy tome, it is a definite "must read" for anyone interested in the life of Van Horne and how he moved the CPR forward. "Lords of the Line" was a very interesting book on the life and times of the CPR titans but I think "From Telegrapher to Titan" definitely tops "Lords".

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