Here I am, back at my comfortable computer station in Vancouver, as from 9:40 last night. With the ergonomic issues --and the fatigue that comes from riding six hour+ stages-- I could write something more substantial, but I'm not going to, because I have a very small but personal matter in my teeth, and I am going to get it out!
A large part of high school Canadian history, at least in my day, was dedicated to the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. I am not even sure that it is possible to argue that this is wrong, and offer a revisionist "People's History of Canada." It's not that there's not counter-narratives --that is, in fact, what I'll be writing about today-- but there is a very strong case that there would not be a Canada without the "iron road from the sea to the sea." I'm going to waffle all over that claim (I think it's wrong but am utterly unprepared to do the work needed to sustain a counterargument), but it's hard to argue against the economic and geographical logic.
|Hardrock miners on the porch of the Deadwood Store,|
Greenwood, BC, c. 1900. It's hard to understate how strong
the completely unexamined notion that white Britons were
the first "outsiders" in this province
Leaving everything else aside, there was a strong British Columbia connection to the generation that gave us this history, starting with Pierre Berton himself. For them, much of this argument was intuitive. It is hard to get from Vancouver to the interior of the province of British Columbia, and, more specifically, to travel between the Okanagan Valley and the Coast. For my grandfather's generation, you could take either I-95 or I-97 south until they joined away down south, at which point San Francisco --heck, Tijuana-- were as close as the other part of your native province, or the arduous but patriotic alternative of wagon road down the Fraser Canyon.