A. Canada was still a sparsely populated country when the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) incorporated in 1881. Building that first cross-country rail link took thousands of workers and a massive effort.
In 1885, CPR worker Donald A. Smith altered the course of the countrys history by driving the final spike into the transcontinental railroad, which ultimately opened up the Canadian West to settlement. You can read a brief history on the CPR archives Web site.
If your ancestor worked on the railroad, youll be especially interested in the archives collection of historical images, documents, publications and artifacts, plus materials on topics such as tourism, immigration and colonization.
Although its a private collection, the CPR archives in Montreal provides researchers with fee-based services or on-site access on a case-by-case basis. Youll need to submit a written request to arrange a visit.
Canadian Railway Records: A Guide for Genealogists by Althea Douglas and J. Creighton Douglas (Ontario Genealogical Society, $26) offers a glossary, chronology, and an introduction to online sources. See more history in Canadian Pacific Railway (MBI Railroad Color History) by Tom Murray (Voyageur Press, $36.95).