Michael Portillo prepares to trace some 600 miles of the first transcontinental railway route across the Canadian Rockies, steered by his 1899 Appleton's Guide.\n\nBeginning in Vancouver, British Columbia, Michael boards the Canadian Pacific Railway Engine 374 that linked the vast nation of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1887. He unearths the story behind this grand feat of engineering and the bribery and corruption, which brought down a government. And he learns that without this railway, there might not be a unified Canada today.\n\nFrom Vancouver's Skytrain, Michael explores the nation's most densely populated city, which, with its natural harbour location and fabulous views of the North Shore mountains, is ranked one of the world's best places to live. A taste of the outdoor life in the thousand-acre Stanley Park prompts Michael to head for the home of the Vancouver Giants and Trinity Northwestern University to try an iconic Canadian sport, ice hockey. It is a brave move but not a glorious one. Michael is on more familiar territory on set at the Canadian Motion Picture Park, where the Twilight Saga was filmed, and known in the industry as Hollywood North. He discovers the first film made in Canada was created at the time of his guide. Sponsored by the Canadian Pacific Railway, it showed life on the prairies in order to promote settlement. Michael directs an Oscar-worthy scene of his own.
Source: BBC 2