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Driven By A Steam Engine Essay

2441 words - 10 pages

Driven by a Steam Engine
The Second Industrial Revolution was characterized by the enormous advances in production technology ushered in by the advent of steel and harnessing of electricity. The beneficiary of these advancements were railway manufacturers, who utilized these innovations to move past the cumbersome steam engine railways to electric railways powered by diesel engines and built on cheaper, stronger steel tracks. Railroads became faster, cheaper, and more comfortable, and the rapidly growing industry provided many North Americans with dreams of building the first transcontinental railway that would propel them into generations of prosperity. Two such North Americans were ...view middle of the document...

In 1902, when Mackenzie had just undertaken the enormous task of building a transcontinental railway under his company Mackenzie, Mann and Company Limited, he was still heavily invested in electric street railways in Toronto, Birmingham and Winnipeg along with steam railway construction in Manitoba, Ontario, British Columbia, and the Yukon, all in addition to 30 other companies he was heavily invested in. Despite Mackenzie’s success as an entrepreneur in the past, his decision to continue playing a large role in all those companies as well as in Mackenzie, Mann and Company Limited had clearly negative consequences on the success of the Canadian Northern Railway. Mackenzie was not known as an organized man to start with, having an objective to, “get the job done, make his profit, and begin his next task,” and as a result the management of several companies left him extremely absent-minded, something that cost the Canadian National Railway many contracts when he would mistakenly take important documents with him on his travels, forget to sign cheques or stock certificates, and rely on others to remind him of his errors. The financial repercussions came second to the intense toll on his health that came with his decision to co-manage several companies rather than dedicate himself to one. Mackenzie suffered from a mysterious illness he dubbed “nervous exhaustion”, where he suffered from malaria-like symptoms under periods of extreme duress that came when he was travelling to close deals on his many companies, particularly the Canadian Northern Railway and the Toronto Railway Company. This not only affected his ability to function but affected the contracts of his transcontinental railway, causing his dream to falter considerably. Unlike Mackenzie, Hill decided very early on in his bid for a transcontinental railway that he would not allow his purchase in any other companies deter him from achieving his goal. In 1883, when, as the Canadian Pacific Railway forced him, as one of its construction supervisors, to reduce his shares in the Manitoba line that he wanted to be a part of his transcontinental railway. Rather than tolerate any division of his capital or his labour, Hill resigned from the Canadian Pacific Railroad board, made up of some of his closest friends, in order to dedicate himself to building what would eventually be the Great Northern Railway. Despite managing just one project, Hill put in just as much work as Mackenzie put into 30, as he worked tirelessly for nearly 40 years with the same group of men to finally realize their common dream of a transcontinental railroad, a task that often left him, “physically and mentally drained,” as he worked on the intricacies of integrated rail and water systems. Both Mackenzie and Hill shared an unquenchable thirst for success, but where Mackenzie tried to consolidate practically the entire Canadian railway industry under his power, Hill was content in working to perfect the achievement of his...

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