Book Review: The Railfan Chronicles, Trainwatching in Ontario, 1975 to 2005

I was a little hesitant to try another railfan e-book. I bought one a few years ago from a different author that was… poor. However, this one was great!

Author Byron Babbish has 44 books on Amazon at the moment, mostly train books but a few on car ferries and even one or two on golf. He lives in the Detroit, Michigan area and most of the books are on railroads in that region. However, “Trainwatching in Ontario” is a bit outside his zone.

The Railfan Chronicles: Trainwatching in Ontario 1975 to 2005” describes his many visits to Ontario (mostly southern Ontario) over 30 years. He traveled to the area for work and for railfan purposes numerous times over those 3 decades and he brought a camera and an open mind.

I bought the Kindle edition, and I read it using the Kindle program on my Windows 10 PC. I found the reading experience quite good, better than I had expected. I liked that it kept my place and I could zoom in and out. One small thing I didn’t like was that the captions sometimes weren’t right under the photos. It might be better on a tablet.

The book is divided into seven chapters:

  1. Introduction to Trainwatching in Ontario
  2. Windsor
  3. Chatham
  4. Sarnia
  5. London and Komoka Junction
  6. Toronto and Bayview Junction
  7. Northern Ontario Towns

I found the first few chapters especially intriguing, since I have spent time in Windsor and Chatham (and briefly in Sarnia, once). It was interesting to read his experiences in Windsor in the 1970s when there was still carferry service across the Detroit River and a different generation of diesels worked the rails.

Those Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning I earn a (very) small commission if you purchase something using the link. As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There’s plenty of MLW power to be seen, including many F units on CN and VIA passenger trains. Fallen flags like the Norfolk & Western make appearances, and there are several pages devoted to the Essex Terminal Railway shortline (still existing). There’s lots of VIA Rail, several Amtrak “International” trains, a bit of GO Transit, RDCs a-plenty, SOO… something for everyone.

The author writes of his experiences while sharing the photos, much like the railfan blog posts I write. I really enjoyed reading his stories. It made the book much more interesting to me.

I plan to purchase and read “The Railfan Chronicles: Riding the Algoma Central 1980-2014” soon. The rest of his books are about American railroads, which is great if that’s what you like!

I liked the book. Recommended.

Buy it on Amazon