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
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
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
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
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.
Canadian Pacific Railway Set-off Siding Vancouver Island British Columbia Canada