I was about to start Pierre Berton's The Last Spike, the second of two books he wrote about the building of the trans-Canadian railroad. Then, wandering into the library - the central Mississauga library is directly across from the Y where I'm swimming! - I spied a hard-cover copy of the first railroad book on sale for $2.00, and in excellent condition. Serendipity. So I've just begun The National Dream.
The full titles are The National Dream: The Great Railway, 1871-1881 and The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885. The second half of the 19th Century is one of my favourites, and perhaps the historical period I know the most about. My good background in what was going on in Britain and the US at the same time will help - but Canadian history is 100% new to me.
Good historians pull together all the many threads that contribute to their story, and the story of the railroad seems to take in all of Canada. So far it's very good reading.