Skip to main content

Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

A Thousand Blunders

The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Northern British Columbia

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.

353 pages

Table of Contents

Illustration and Figures



1 Introduction: “A Tragedy Rather than Otherwise”

2 “In a Hole”: Entry into British Columbia, 1902-12

3 “Banging Right through on a Straight Line”: Construction

4 “Too Good or Too Fat for the Job”: Labour Relations

5 “A Frail Little City”: Prince Rupert

6 “A Hold-up Business”: Acquisition of Indian Lands

7 “In the Hollow of the Corporation’s Hand”: Prince George

8 “For Pure Spite”: Hazelton District

9 “Grand Trafficker of Promises”: Operations, 1914-19

10 Conclusion: “The Tenderloin and the Hook”


Select Bibliography


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press