The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway (1974)

TV Mini-Series  |  Drama, History
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A dramatized documentary about the political and engineering struggle to build Canada's first trans-continental railway.

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Credited cast:
Pierre Berton ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Diana Barrington ...
 Lady Dufferin
Lloyd Berry ...
 Foreman Miller
Susan Bird ...
 Mary Macdonald
Vernon Chapman ...
 Richard Cartwright
George Chow ...
 Cornelius Van Horne
Tim Crighton ...
 William Topley
Joe Crowfoot ...
 Chief Crowfoot
Neil Dainard ...
 Robert Rylatt
 Young Fraser
James B. Douglas ...
 Major A.B. Rogers
Gillie Fenwick ...
 Alexander Mackenzie
Ted Follows ...
 Charles Tupper
Pat Galloway ...
 Agnes Macdonald


Canadian popular historian, Pierre Berton, recounts the story of one of the most challenging and important political and engineering projects in Canadian history, the building of the country's first trans-continental railway. Beginning as part of Prime Minister John A Macdonald's deal in 1871 to have British Columbia join Canada, the project seemed foolhardy for such a young nation. Indeed, many regarded the idea of building a railway spanning from Ontario to BC through the rocks of the Canadian Shield, swamps, prairies and mountain ranges without even a clear route or destination as impossible. This series follows the long struggle to realize Macdonald's National Dream through the initial surveying, the political scandals and infighting even as the colourful builders struggle to conquer the difficult geography in their construction of a railway that would help secure and define a nation. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <>

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Drama | History





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Spoofed in The National Scream (1980) See more »

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The Great Story of The Canadian Railway
29 September 2006 | by (Victoria, BC) – See all my reviews

I do not know why this show is not for sale. As a student of Canadian History, this is one of the better tellings of how Canada came together as a country. It shows with all their foibles, issues, and faults the fathers of confederation and the compromises made to unite the country. It illustrates the hardships of the surveyors and the navies who charted out and built the rail-lines. Finally it relates what the purpose of the railroad was to move people and products joining the west to the east and supporting Canada's development of the west. No car chases, hardly anything blows up, just a good story about people on an epic scale.

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