Great Canadian Railway Stories

I stumbled across the Great Canadian Railway Stories series of soft cover books at my local hobby store, Ware House Hobbies. They had quite a collection of used train books on consignment and I opened my wallet!

I’d never heard of this series before, but $10 for 4 books was a steal. I took them home – along with a few other books – and read the four over a few weeks.

The books are basically a series of stories from retired railroaders, mostly from the steam era, written down pretty much verbatim. They were edited by Peter Wilson, produced by a large team, and were a fundraising effort for the Trent Port Historical Society, who were trying to preserve the Trenton, Ontario town hall.

The series also promoted the Central Ontario Railway Historical Association, which attempted to acquire the CN Marmora subdivision (between Trenton and Picton) after it was put up for abandonment. The intent was to acquire it as a basis for “a community-based college focusing on heritage, education, skilled trades training, transportation, research and development”. Unfortunately, they were not successful.

I think there were five books in this series, and I have the first four. Each book has a series of short tales by former railroaders such as B.C. “Jiggs” McGowan, Austin White, John Ferguson, George Wilson and many others. The four I have range from 32 to 40 pages in length, featuring quite a few stories, some railway related diagrams, a few ads from local businesses and a tiny bit of editorial content.

These are great for casual reading and for experiencing railroading as it was back in the steam era.

They are available at Abe Books but may be available at your local hobby store or a used book store. It looks like 5,000 copies were printed of each edition so they should be around!

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