The world’s first steam-powered railway, Stockton & Darlington, opened in 1825 in Northeastern England; by the 1840s, railways could be found across the country (Railways during the Victorian Era, 2019). In North America, the Canadian Pacific Railway began construction in 1881, 56 years after Stockton & Darlington, and reached completion in 1885; the CPR was built with the purpose of connecting Canada and its people from one coast to the other (Canadian Pacific, Our history).
The quotation above is taken from one of Milly’s diary entries written about her return home after the family’s year-long trip. The “war” she mentions is likely in reference to the ongoing battle between certain railway workers and the Canadian Pacific Railway. 1897 saw an attempt to create a union for railway workers; this first unionization attempt failed, but gave rise to a second attempt, which would see more, albeit short-lived, success: In September of 1898 (less than one month after this diary entry was written) the United Brotherhood of Railway Employees (UBRE) was formed, an organization which would continue to fight with the CPR until the UBRE’s demise in 1903 (Tuck, 1983).