George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen), for whom Stephen Siding was named, was the first Canadian to be elevated to a peerage of the United Kingdom and subsequently became the first president of the CPR.

He oversaw the monumental task of not just negotiating a 2,000 mile (3,218 km) route across muskeg and rivers, through forests and up mountains, but also the raising of an estimated at $100 million, to build the world’s second transcontinental railway. (The world’s first Transcontinental railway, built between 1863 and 1869, linked the existing railway network of the Eastern United States

Stephen Siding ~1887 looking west.

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By 1883, the CPR was straining under the huge financial challenges to complete the railway. The resignation of several of the CPR’s directors didn’t help. In 1885 Stephen persevered, persuading Lord Revelstoke and Barings Bank of Britain to underwrite the sale of £3 million in company stock. With the completion of the railway in 1885 the CPR went on to become the world’s greatest transportation system almost immediately making Stephen enormously rich.

In addition to Stephen Siding, which still exists as part of the North Track leading from Laggan (present-day Lake Louise) to the Kicking Horse Pass, one of the three hotels established by the CPR to feed travellers on the newly complete line, Stephen House at Field (which no longer exists), was named after him. Also, the 10,367 foot (3160 m) mountain behind Field (to the south) was named Mount Stephen in his honour.

The western end of Stephen Siding had a wye for turning helper locomotives used for both extra power on the ascent and for additional braking on the descent of the Laggan Hill. The wye was removed in 1955.

Stephen Siding wye.

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In MBC 1887 Stephen Siding has remained a source of wood products for upgrading of the line. Upgrades were required as soon as the railway was completed in 1885. In addition to maintenance of the wooden structures, e.g., trestles, which deteriorated quickly, new sidings and other track-side structures, snow sheds, cribbing and other improvements were needed to keep the railway running year round.

Saw mill at Stephen Siding.

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September 4, 2016

September 4, 2016

Stephen Siding