The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Montreal Bank

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Image courtesy of McCord Museum, Montreal.

The completion of Canada’s transcontinental railroad ushered in a wealth of new possibilities in trade, tourism, immigration and economic development. Bank of Montreal acted as the key Canadian bank in the financing of the railway and was deeply involved in the broader complexities of raising capital in both the U.S. and U.K.

It was one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the country, and one of the most controversial, derided in the press as a useless enterprise, an “out-and-out impossibility” from an engineering perspective, and sure to be one of the great blunders of all time.

The railway was completed on November 7, 1885 – six years ahead of schedule – when the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia.


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