Leanchoil was named after Lethna-Coyle Manor in Scotland, where the mother of Lord Strathcona resided. Donald A. Smith, later Lord Strathcona, was a co-founder of the CPR along with his cousin, CPR president George Stephens. Throughout 1884-85, when financing the CPR became increasingly difficult, Smith and Stephens pledged their homes, their investments, and their holdings in the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railroad as collateral and took money from their own accounts to provide operating funds.

Helper locomotives on west bound trains were removed at Leanchoil to await assistance of east bound trains over Muskeg Summit to Field and on uptake Big Hill to the Kicking Horse Pass and Hector.

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On the morning of November 7, 1885, Donald Smith drove the last spike on the track of the country's first transcontinental railway line. 


This simple ceremony took place in Craigellachie, British Columbia. Several CP dignitaries had just arrived in official railway carriages. Track gangs who, at dawn had laid the rails to complete the last mile of track, surrounded them. Once the symbolic spike had been driven, CPR manager William Van Horne pronounced these words: "All I can say is that the work has been well done in every way." 


Donald Alexander Smith (1) driving the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway, November 7, 1985. The portly man to his right is William Cornelius Van Horne (2), General Manager of the CPR. To Van Horne’s left (in the top hat with the broad beard; behind Smith) is Sir Sandford Fleming (3), first engineer-in-chief of the railway who had originally recommended the Yellowhead Pass as the best route for the CPR through the Rockies. The Canadian National Railway would eventually use the Yellowhead Pass for its traverse of the Rockies.

Driving of the last spike at Craigellachie, British Columbia November 7, 1985.

Source: Ross, Alexander, Best & Co., Winnipeg.


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Site of Leanchoil wye as seen from Google Earth.

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September 9, 2016

September 10, 2016


In the MBC 1887 route I have portrayed Leanchoil as a source of lumber and other wood products for construction of the line further down the valley.

Leanchoil Mill.

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