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The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway 

A dramatized documentary about the political and engineering struggle to build Canada's first trans-continental railway.






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Series cast summary:
Pierre Berton ...
 Himself / ... 8 episodes, 1974
William Hutt ...
 John A. Macdonald 5 episodes, 1974
 Edward Blake 5 episodes, 1974
Joseph Shaw ...
 George Stephen 4 episodes, 1974
Tony Van Bridge ...
 Sir Sandford Fleming 4 episodes, 1974
Pat Galloway ...
 Agnes Macdonald 4 episodes, 1974
Chris Wiggins ...
 Donald Smith 4 episodes, 1974
 Alexander Mackenzie 4 episodes, 1974
 Cornelius Van Horne 3 episodes, 1974
 Walter Moberly 2 episodes, 1974
James B. Douglas ...
 Major A.B. Rogers 2 episodes, 1974
Neil Dainard ...
 Robert Rylatt 2 episodes, 1974
 Andrew Onderdonk 2 episodes, 1974
Peter Mews ...
 John Henry Pope 2 episodes, 1974
John Horton ...
 Lucius Seth Huntington 2 episodes, 1974
Claude Préfontaine ...
 Georges-Etienne Cartier 2 episodes, 1974
Barney O'Sullivan ...
 E.C. Gillette 2 episodes, 1974
 George McMullen 2 episodes, 1974
Henry Stamper ...
 Hugh Allan 2 episodes, 1974


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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Drama | History





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1974 (Canada)  »

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Did You Know?


Spoofed in The National Scream (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

21 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

This is a truly outstanding documentary production (extremely well-researched and filmed, with high-quality acting and narration). This 8-part mini-series was produced at a cost of 2 million CAD (a large sum in 1974), and the viewing audience when first aired, set a record for Canadian dramatic productions (Source Wikipedia).

To follow up on the comments of the previous reviewer (who was disappointed that they had been unable to find the series), I am happy to report that it IS possible to obtain a copy of this series on DVD. After much searching, I found that it can only be purchased directly from the Educational Services department of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), although it is quite pricey (approximately 200CAD).

If you are a railway or history buff, you will definitely enjoy this epic story!

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