Alberta & BC Rockies History - The Railroad

In 1871, British Columbia joins Canada based on Prime Minister Sir John A Macdonald's promises of a railway to connect it with the rest of the country. In 1872 Sir Sanford Fleming, the railroad's engineer-in-chief recommends the Yellowhead Pass, today near Jasper for the railway route. In 1881 the Canadian Pacific Railway receives royal assent for its charter, and Cornelius van Horne (an American) is appointed general manager. The next year, Major Rogers surveys the route through the Rockies and discovers the pass now named after him. Tom Wilson discovers Lake Louise and Emerald Lake.

By 1883, railway tracks reach Calgary, built at a pace of up to 11 km (7 miles) in a day, until they reach Lake Louise by summer's end. Various parties dispute their claims over the mineral hot springs near Banff (first claimed in 1874) which results in the establishment of a federal natural reserve, known as Rocky Mountains Park. Silver City becomes a railway boom town. In 1885, the Last Spike is driven at Craigellachie, BC and coal is discovered east of Banff.

In 1887 Banff receives National Park status, and five years later Lake Louise is added to the Rocky Mountains Park. By 1895, Kootenay Lakes Forest Park (now known as Waterton Lakes National Park) is established. In 1900 Bill and Jim Brewster begin their guiding and outfitting company, building the area's tourist trade. In 1902, Rocky Mountains Park is expanded to its current size. A second transcontinental railway, the Grand Truck Pacific is proposed to run north of the CPR. By 1907, the Jasper Forest Park Reserve is established and 4 years later, the new railway builds a station at Jasper. in 1920, BC donates lands of Kootenay to be Canada's 10th National Park.

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