Most Canadians associate this photo with “The last spike.” The ceremony marked the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Canada’s first transcontinental railway, in 1885.
It was nearly 30 years before a second route to the west was completed: the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. 100 years ago today (April 7), the Grand Trunk Pacific was completed, connecting Prince Rupert to Winnipeg. The last spike was driven about 137 km west of Prince George, near the community of Fort Fraser.
This other “last spike” ceremony is much less known but it changed northern BC forever. The GTP went on to become Canadian National and remains a vital transportation corridor linking northern BC to the east and, thanks to the Port of Prince Rupert, to the world
The anniversary almost went by without anyone really noticing. Thankfully, deep in the Archives of Northern BC, a photo of the event was discovered and shared. It was shot by Parker Bonney, who had a long history in northern BC as a forester and surveyor before he passed away in 1977. The photo is one of 600 of Bonney’s images that are being preserved by the Archives.
When UNBC was first established, it was described by some founders as the most significant development for northern BC “since the coming of the railroad.” 100 years after the coming of the railroad, it’s appropriate that UNBC has a part in preserving that history.