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Ottawa Regional Fair
From Stallions to Steel: Rethinking the Canadian Pacific Railway
Established in 1881 and finished in 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) has been, and always will be, one of the most crucial constructions that has happened in Canada. This project explores the cultural, political and scientific aspects of the CPR.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
At first, I thought trains were somewhat interesting, but I didn't realize how much more there was to learn. In doing this project, I looked at culture, geography, politics, the arts and literature of the Victorian period, and science. Thinking about the CPR taught me to look more deeply when making historical analyses.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
One of the most important lessons I learned is that history is constantly needing to look at the diversity of the people involved in making history. For example, many historical texts only give a small recognition to the Chinese migrant workers who built the railway. Through this project, I have learned to look at a single event from different points of view.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
Even though I (and many of my classmates) are from immigrant families, we feel that we are accepted into Canadian culture. We are encouraged to be fully engaged citizens. But it seems that during the railway building, people such as migrant workers were more likely to be taken advantage of. They were recruited to come to Canada, but never respected. And in general, there was such a distinction between social and economic classes.