OTD: Macdonald signs CPR contract

On today’s date in 1880, prime minister John A. Macdonald signed a provisional agreement with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) syndicate to build the transcontinental railway.

The group consisted of Bank of Montreal President George Stephen; U.S. rail financer Duncan Mclntyre; and Ontario-born Minnesota entrepreneur James Jerome Hill. Donald Smith, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, withdrew support for Macdonald during the Pacific scandal.

2005, 2015 CPR COINS

In 2005, the CPR was featured in the Royal Canadian Mint’s $8 silver coin set, which marked the 120th anniversary of the historic railway.

The CPR was also featured on a $15 Fine silver coin—the eighth in a series dubbed “Building the Canadian Pacific Railway”—in 2015.

By Canadian artist John Mantha, the reverse design of the latter coin pays tribute to the 30,000 workers who helped complete the transcontinental railway project with a scene embodying the arduous nature of laying railroad tracks through the mountains. Two navigators are driving a spike while another worker hauls gravel to fill the gaps between railway ties. The coin commemorates one of the monumental achievements of post-Confederation Canada—the construction of the CPR.

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