The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was incorporated on February 16, 1881. Less than five years later, a ribbon of steel united Canada when the railway line from the east coast to the Pacific coast in the west was finally completed with the driving of the ‘Last Spike’ at Craigellachie in British Columbia, on November 7, 1885.
This historical event is commemorated at the small settlement of Craigellachie in Eagle Pass, located alongside the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous in the Thompson Okanagan and Revelstoke in the BC Kootenays. The Craigellachie site today is easily accessible right off the highway, providing a convenient, picturesque and relaxing spot to stretch your legs and have a picnic on your journey across BC.
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On that cold November day in 1885, Canadian Pacific Railway director Donald Alexander Smith, Lord Strathcona, raised his hammer to perform the greatest symbolic act of Canada’s first century. With a final blow he struck the plain iron spike, forging Canada’s first transcontinental railway, from ocean to ocean. Often following the footsteps of early explorers, nearly 3,000 miles of steel rail pushed across vast prairies, cleft lofty mountain passes, twisted through canyons, and bridged a thousand streams.
While exploring these mountains in the summer of 1865, Walter Moberley, assistant surveyor-general of British Columbia, noted the flight of eagles through a break in the Gold Range (Monashees), thereby discovering Eagle Pass.
After 1881, Eagle pass was chosen as the Canadian Pacific Railways route between the drainage basins of the Columbia and Fraser rivers. The Last Spike was driven here, in Eagle Pass at Craigellachie.
Craigellachie was named after the village of Craigellachie on the River Spey in Moray, Scotland, the ancestral home of Sir George Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
The Last Spike at Craigellachie site is located alongside the Trans-Canada Highway 1, between the towns of Sicamous in the Thompson Okanagan and Revelstoke in the BC Kootenays.