Book Review: Smoke on the Waterfront

Eric Gagnon’s latest book, “Smoke on the Waterfront”, is a deep dive into the history of Kingston’s waterfront, and its not terribly successful relationship with Lake Ontario.

Readers looking for VIA Rail or detailed train content are advised to look to Eric’s other books like “Trains and Grains” or his “Trackside With VIA” series. This isn’t a train book.

Of course, there are trains in the book, as CN and especially CP had a harborfront presence in Kingston. The author goes into considerable detail on the industries served in the area, the trains that ran, and provides some detail on the sometimes difficult relationship between the railways and the city. The waterfront is always the focus of the book, even when talking about trains.

There’s also considerable detail about the ships that called at Kingston, from lake barges to ferries to grain boats and even the doomed HMCS Inch Arran.

There’s a lot of text in this book, but it is well organized into readable chapters and sections. Photographs are sprinkled throughout the book, with a few pages of thumbnails at the end.

I’ve never been to Kingston, but after reading this book, I feel I know a fair bit about the history of the city… or at least the waterfront.

You can buy this book from Eric via his web site.

Disclaimers: I bought my own copy of this book. I am not compensated for this review. Keep in mind that I do consider Eric a friend, but I would give an honest review regardless of whether we were friends or not.