The Lost Spike (2004)

"The Lost Spike" in Kayak: Canada's History Magazine for Kids, No. 1 (December 2004)


"When I left you three years ago, there was no work to be had here. Some families went hungry. When we heard that a far away company was hiring workers to build a railway across a place called Canada, we were excited. We heard it was a land barely disturbed by humans, where rivers rushed with great strength and high mountains protected cougars and bears with forests as far as the eye could see."

"I didn't know what a railway was, but still I went. It was the best way to secure a future for you."

"When we arrived in Canada, the land was just as forbidding as we had heard. I wondered how we would ever clear a path for the railway through the rock and forest. Day after day we felled trees, cleared tunnels, and levelled the rough ground. We used pickaxes and hammers, drills and spades, and we carried them from one site to another for miles each day.

"Many workers died in dynamite accidents and rockslides along the way. There was no time to bury them properly because the company was in a hurry. But we felt we had to do something. So we began cutting a nick into an iron spike every time we lost a crew member. It was a spike just like the others that had been pounded into the ground to hold the tracks down, but it was our way of remembering these men, and this particular spike became very special to us. We even hid it in the gear of our strongest man, Old Fong, to keep it safe."

"Every night around the campfire, we would take out the spike and chant every name represented on it: 'Chun Ah-ming, Lei Ah-gun, Wong Ah-jew, Jung Ah-Foo, Ho Ah-jeen, Gwan Ah-bong, Lum Ah-bo, Choy Ah-wah, Poon Ah-yee.'"

For more information, go to

The Lost Spike 1
The Lost Spike 2
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