Canadian Pacific Railway
When Du Vernet traveled by rail from Toronto to Rat Portage, he took a journey that would not have been possible 15 years earlier – the Canadian Pacific Railway had opened in 1883. Du Vernet’s train journey took two nights and four stops. In the rest of the diary, especially along the river, Du Vernet pays a lot of attention to the land he travels through, but during his train journey, the diary only describes when the train stopped and he got out to walk around.
The railway was an important tool in building Canada as a colonial nation-state. The Dominion Government of Canada ceded land to the CP Railway company for its construction. Around Rainy River, this was land that the government had claimed through Treaty 3. The cross-national railway promoted white settlement – with a special discounted one-way fare for “colonists” – as well as the transport of manufactured goods and raw materials.