nations are narrations

Canada, the dream, happened on July 1st 1867. Canada, the reality, happened on 7 November 1885, when the last spike was driven at Craigellachie, British Columbia. The Fathers of Confederation envisioned a nation, ocean-to-ocean, from Atlantic to Pacific, but it wasn’t until the Canadian Pacific Railway [CPR] completed its transcontinental railway that Canada was a reality.

// Pierre Burton, The National Dream


The last spike was an event staged by a group of capitalists to celebrate the completion of a privately owned railway, albeit one which was generously supported with public land and cash. For them the “trail of iron” was a money-making proposition, not a national dream. “The Canadian Pacific was built for the purpose of making money for the share-holders and for no other purpose under the sun,” stated William Van Horne. Yet within a few years myth had transformed the railway from a triumph of private capitalism into a triumph of patriotic nation-building.

// Daniel Francis, National Dreams


…nations are narrations
// Edward Said, Culture & Imperialism


Nations are Narrations, is an experimental research and creation project exploring the narrative role of image-making in relation to the construction of national mythologies and the colonialist antecedents surrounding the legacy of the Canadian Pacific Railroad [CPR] and the railroad, stitching together site and social-specific counter narratives in order to reflect the vastness that is Canada. Thanks to Arts Nova Scotia for their support of this project.

Red Snake

Voices of Fire [after Barnett Newman]

Montreal Snowshoe Club celebrating 150 years [after William Notman Studio]

Musquodoboit Railroad Clearing [after Gertrude Stein]

The big catch [150]

CN Passenger Service Train