Canadian Pacific Railway Set-off Siding

My return to Montreal early in October was marked by a message to call Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence in Ottawa. It turned out that I was invited to attend a luncheon on 7 Nov 1987 - "in connection with the driving of the Last Spike".

I wondered whether some government bureaucrat had committed a "boo boo", and was unaware of the fact that the centennial had been observed in 1985.

Not to worry, an invitation from Rideau Hall is not to be taken lightly, and I arrived at the "time appointed".

It turned out that Rober Reford of Toronto, a descendant of George Stephen, Lord Mount Stephen, Canadian Pacific's founder and first president (1881) was in possession of a Last Spike brooch, containing a fragment of the "second to last" spike (the one that was bent), encircled with diamonds. Up to that point I had known of only two specimens of this brooch.

One of them is in Canadian Pacific's possession, having been turned over by N.R. Crump, our former chairman, about 15 years ago. It was (and still is) missing its diamonds, but contains the spike ingot, which is its real claim to fame. This brooch is illustrated in my book, Van Horne's Road, on page 227.

The second example of which I subsequently became aware was a larger one, currently owned by Lady Strathcona. She wore it in 1985 during her attendance a the Last Spike centennial in British Columbia.

I had not known about the Reford pin until I arrived at Rideau Hall when I learned that this one had belonged to Lady Northcote, the wife of Sir Stafford Northcote, one of the early directors of the company.

Before the luncheon, Mr. Reford presented the pin to the Governor General, Her Excellency Jeanne Sauve, with the intention that it might be used to start a collection of uniquely-Canadian "Crown Jewels" to be worn by the Governor General, as in the current case, or by his consort if the incumbent is a man.

Her Excellency graciously received the pin and wore it during the luncheon.

Among the guests were other members of the Reford family, Dr. Robert F. Legget the Canadian railway author and historian, Dr. Bill McGowan director of the National Museum of Science and Technology, and Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Seton, QC.

This CP Rail News article is copyright 1987 by the Canadian Pacific Railway and is reprinted here with their permission. All photographs, logos, and trademarks are the property of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

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