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Surveying the Canadian Pacific written by William Kittredge


Surveying the Canadian Pacific written by William Kittredge


In 1871 R. M. Rylatt, a former sergeant of His Majesty's Royal Engineers, embarked on a new career as an agent of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Survey, searching for a route that would join British Columbia to the rest of Canada. He kept notes of his two years of expeditionary work, which he later revised and expanded, adding numerous colour sketches and line drawings. These memoirs were compiled in a handsome leatherbound journal, which remained in the family for more than a hundred years before being discovered and subsequently published by the University of Utah Press in 1991. Rylatt's journal provides a valuable first-hand account of the race to mount a transcontinental railway across largely unmapped territory. It is also a great adventure story, full of the trials and tribulations that were so much a part of everyday existence. In one dramatic encounter, Rylatt graphically describes using an axe to cut off three fingers of a troublemaker in camp. Especially gripping, and the most vivid pure adventure, is the last fifth of the diary describing the trip homeward in May of 1873 when, with three horses and a companion, he travels from Jasper across the Continental Divide and down the Thompson River to Kamloops. Readers will be captivated by Rylatt's jaunty but dangerous adventures, told with sly humour and a canny eye for detail. The compelling text and exceptional colour illustrations give life to the efforts of one individual engaged in a grand enterprise to span a nation.

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Title: Surveying the Canadian Pacific

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