Ian Wilson's blog

Welcome to the blog of Ian Wilson, author of the award-winning Canadian Branchline series, the King's Highways & Steam Trains series, and the Angus Wolfe adventures series.

Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! launch

May 14, 2018

We launched the new 192-page Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! at the Toronto Railway Museum this past Saturday. It was a perfect venue, amid a collection of locomotives, rolling stock, artifacts, and buildings such as the Don Station which used to stand on the Bala Subdivision.

The Toronto Railway Museum is in a high-traffic area of one of North America’s most vibrant cities. Within a short walk are the CN Tower, the Ripley Aquarium and the Rogers Centre. That’s my son Spencer gazing past the watchman’s shanty and pondering David Price pitching for the Boston Red Sox against the Toronto Blue Jays a short time after our book launch.

I’ve devoted most of my working life to writing about Canadian National steam era operations (although Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! is 20% Canadian Pacific coverage). It was a thrill to see a beautifully-restored CNR wooden caboose at the Toronto Railway Museum as numerous examples abound in the pages of the new book.

Book launch attendees enjoyed free admission to the former John Street roundhouse and museum grounds, where CNR Northern 6213 stands beside the CPR coaling plant.

The weather was a little iffy in terms of dampness and temperature, so we set up inside Stall 17 of the roundhouse. We’ve had all of my books printed on archival-quality paper—which suffers adversely from moisture as a fine painting would—so it was better safe than sorry. The new book introduces CPR maroon as a jacket colour, instead of the black on the previous eleven railway titles.

Here’s the team that packages and distributes your books! This was our first book release event in eight years, and the two boys are now fully involved with the family business. All four of us enjoyed meeting and chatting with dozens of readers (“Branchliners”) on launch day.

This reader (Chuck Lawrence) was early—he popped over to the table before we officially opened! Aside from our family copy, that’s the first Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! into the hands of a reader.

Jim Brown, who you’ll recognize from our posting about the press check a couple of weeks ago, chats with another Branchliner, Shaun Burns, who has just picked up his copy of the new book. Incidentally, Jim’s a “lifer”, having been at our first launch in 1998.

We’ve come up with a unique marketing approach for Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! You’ll find in your package (if you haven’t already received you copy at the launch) two complimentary samples of the book to pass along to two friends who share your interest in Canadian steam railway operations. Here, I’m signing one of the samples. Picture by Jim Brown.

Spencer, to my right, dealt out the books and samples. Duncan, to my left, stuffed envelopes with goodies to go along with the new copies of Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! The lads follow similar roles at the home shipping centre for your book. Another Jim Brown picture.

In this third picture by Jim Brown, I’m chatting with one of my readers at the table. Under my jacket is the Speed Graphics custom-printed (not by us) T-shirt that my son Duncan (pictured) gave me for Christmas. It’s the same one I’m wearing in the dust jacket author’s picture.

Nick and Renée Masney, longtime readers and friends from Dorchester (near London, Ontario) stopped by to pick up their copy of the book. I hadn’t seen Nick since one of our Copetown Train Show appearances years ago. Thanks to Roger Keay for this picture.

This lady, Jeri, is a longtime reader who found us first via one of our eBay listings. It’s a lot of fun to put names and faces to people who buy each new release! Like the many other Branchliners who came out Saturday, Jeri is already reading her book and digging into her package of goodies.

There are the three Wilson boys, still smiling after almost three hours of meeting readers at our table inside the Toronto Railway Museum! Thanks to Branchliner Andrew North for this picture.

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Railway Museum—Phil Spencer (President, and a Branchliner) who first approached me, the social media people who publicized the event, and the staff—including manager Tyler Best pictured here with me just before we headed home after a successful and enjoyable launch day.

Incidentally, if you represent an entity or group connected with steam railway history, feel free to drop me an email at Maybe we’ll come up with a way to work together, like we did with the Toronto Railway Museum.

Ordering the book

We’re busy every day filling the pre-orders for Speed Graphics and Steam 1957! that came in over several months. The pile of books has started dwindling! If you hadn’t pre-ordered and wish to order a copy now, we can guarantee that your book will go out next week. Please navigate to our sales page at

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