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A Thousand Blunders

The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Northern British Columbia

by Frank Leonard

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history, transportation, post-confederation (1867-)
list price: $34.95
also available: eBook Hardcover
category: Transportation
published: 1996
publisher: UBC Press

In A Thousand Blunders, Frank Leonard looks at why the “Road of a Thousand Wonders” failed to live up to the expectations forecast by company president Charles M. Hays and other senior managers. Not only was the railway built through a sparsely settled region, which generated little immediate traffic, but its economic difficulties were also compounded by the numerous mistakes made by managers at all levels: for example, their failure to respond adequately to labour shortages caused serious delays and prevented the company from proving Prince Rupert as an effective alternative harbour before World War I broke out. For this book, Frank Leonard had access to a wealth of original documents, among them the GTP legal department files, providing him with insights into the decisions that formed the basis for policies in townsites and on Indian reserves. A Thousand Blunders is a provocative account of one of the greatest failures in Canadian entrepreneurial history. Richly detailed and thoroughly documented, it makes an important contribution to the fields of railway and business history, as well as to the study of the history of northern British Columbia.

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Contributor notes

Frank Leonard teaches in the Department of History at Douglas College, New Westminster, B.C.

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Editorial Reviews

This book is recommended reading for anyone interested in the business side of railroad history.

— Railroad History

[A Thousand Blunders] is thorough and solidly researched. [This book] makes a useful contribution to our understanding of the role of the railway in developing northern British Columbia.

— Canadian Book Review Annual 1996
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