A thrilling new account of the engineering triumph that created a nation
In The Company, his bestselling work of revisionist history, Stephen R. Bown told the dramatic, adventurous and bloody tale of Canada's origins in the fur trade. With Dominion he continues the nation's creation story with an equally gripping and eye-opening account of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In the late 19th century, demand for fur was in sharp decline. This could have spelled economic disaster for the venerable Hudson's Bay Company. But an idea emerged in political and business circles in Ottawa and Montreal to connect the disparate British colonies into a single entity that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. With over 3,000 kilometres of track, much of it driven through wildly inhospitable terrain, the CPR would be the longest railway in the world and the most difficult to build. Its construction was the defining event of its era and a catalyst for powerful global forces.
The times were marked by greed, hubris, blatant empire building, oppression, corruption and theft. They were good for some, hard for most, disastrous for others. The CPR enabled a new country, but it came at a terrible price.
Stephen R. Bown again widens our view of the past to include the adventures and hardships of explorers and surveyors, the resistance of Indigenous peoples, and the terrific and horrific work of many thousands of labourers. His vivid portrayal of the powerful forces that were moulding the world in the late 19th century provides a revelatory new picture of modern Canada's creation as an independent state.
About the Author
STEPHEN R. BOWN is the author of eleven books on the history of exploration, science and ideas, including the medical mystery of scurvy, the Treaty of Tordesillas and the lives of Captain George Vancouver and Roald Amundsen. He has been published in many English-speaking territories and translated into nine languages. He has won the BC Book Prize, the Alberta Book Award and the William Mills Prize for Polar Books. His previous book, The Company: The Rise and Fall of the Hudson's Bay Empire, was a national bestseller and winner of the 2021 National Business Book Award and the J.W. Dafoe Book Prize. Born in Ottawa, he now lives near Banff in the Canadian Rockies.
"Dominion is enlivened by vivid portraits of characters like Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie, Jerry Potts, Crowfoot and Sir William Van Horne, and it raises the kind of questions that we should all be asking today. At a time when too many writers and readers are turning away from historical non-fiction, Dominion reminds us that Canadian history is nothing to be afraid of. Bown gives us a clear picture of the winners and losers in one particularly consequential episode." —Literary Review of Canada