the building of the CPR


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  • Here, you can help plan the route of the railway.
  • 1871 - British Columbia enters Confederation and is promised a railway linking it to the rest of Canada within 10 years. This was John A. Macdonald's dream: a single Dominion from sea to sea.
  • Shhh! Don't tell anyone that you own the company and that the railway will not be transcontinental.
  • However, knowing the Canadian government did not have the resources to complete a project like this, Macdonald began offering incentives to wealthy business and railway owners to see if they would help build the railway.
  • Hugh Allan is promised a railway contract because he is helping us in our campaign.
  • This is how much each of us need: Sir John A. Macdonald: $25,000 Hon. Mr. Langevin: $15,000 Sir G.E.C.: $20,000
  • This caught the attention of Jay Cooke, an American who knew the potential of the Canadian West. "Sir Hugh Allan, the only Canadian capable of taking on a transcontinental railway project, believed it made sense to build a rail link to the West and he joined forces with Jay Cooke, forming the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in 1871."
  • John A. Macdonald, because of your actions, you are to resign as prime minister.
  • However, there were a couple of issues. The company was thought to be Canadian, but it was actually run by Jay Cooke, who was American. The other problem was that Allan's railway would not be a transcontinental railway but a branch line of the American Northern Pacific Railway. If people heard that Americans controlled the railway, it would not be built.
  • 1872 - John A. Macdonald calls a general election and the Conservatives realized they needed more money for their campaign, so Macdonald asked his Minister of Defense, George Etienne Cartier, to see if Hugh Allan could help with their campaign. He agreed and Cartier wrote two memos: promising Allan the railway contract and how much the candidates needed.
  • The Conservatives won the election but in 1873, the memos written by George Etienne Cartier and how Americans were involved in Allan's CPR were made public. Macdonald said this was all untrue but with more evidence released to the media, he was forced to resign. This is known as the Pacific Scandal.
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