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My favourite trains, part 1 of 4

June 23, 2024

We're going to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the date June 25, 1954 in a special way. But first, some background on why that day is so significant for my series of books on Canadian steam railway operations.

How it all began...

More than 27 years ago, I begin writing my series of books on Canadian steam railway operations. From the start, I wanted to put the reader into the action on a moment-to-moment basis. This is something like how a prototype railway modeller approaches his layout.

In my case, since I would be depicting around-the-clock railway operations based on forensic data, I needed to choose a specific day. How to make that choice?

A special day in time evolves...

I would begin my series of books with one covering my hometown of Barrie, Ontario, principally the railway side called Allandale. My favourite train from the steam era (at that division point) was the Penetang mixed which ran six days per week.

I wanted to choose a date that preceded the sad days of the late 1950s, when photographers scrambled everywhere to shoot any kind of steam in action. Instead, I would concentrate on the steam railway network as it existed just before the rapid decline. I noticed that my favourite Allandale train was downgraded to thrice-weekly status beginning with the summer timetable of June 1954.

Therefore, I settled on Friday, June 25, 1954 (just before the service reduction) as the day to recreate in detail for the reader at Allandale (and subsequently across the entire CNR Northern Ontario District and most of the Southern Ontario District). This approach began in Steam at Allandale (published August 1998) and continued for twelve years through Steam Memories of Lindsay (April 2010).

Now for the memories of favourite trains, title by title...

We begin (above) with my favourite train from my first book, Steam at Allandale. Here it is, the Penetang mixed train at its namesake station behind Ten Wheeler 1322 (this engine has been preserved carrying her later number of 1531).

My second book was To Stratford Under Steam (February 2000). A favourite train depicted in those pages (now out of print) is the way freight that ran from Kitchener to Galt on the west side of the Grand River. Here is that train behind another Ten Wheeler, number 1338, southbound at Galt, with a Canadian Pacific passenger train crossing the Grand in the background.

Steam Over Palmerston (also out of print) was next, in September 2001. Once again, a favourite train of mine is a mixed, in this case to Southampton. Here it is crossing a high bridge over the Teeswater River at Paisley Ontario behind Ten Wheeler 1348.

Steam Through London (out of print) followed in February 2003. From the pages of that book I choose the Hespeler way freight, southbound at that station behind Pacific 5563. This train worked the gravel pits, coal yards and lumber yards (one of which is in the background) between Guelph Junction and Brantford.

In Steam to the Niagara Frontier (out of print), which followed in October 2004, I choose the Fort Erie mix train behind Pacific 5580. Here she is seen leaving Port Colborne eastbound after crossing the Welland Canal, with yard engine 2344 off to the side.

Lest you think my only interest in steam operations is a mixed train or way freight behind light power, now we take a look at Steam in Northern Ontario which was released in October 2006. Here we are at Hornepayne watching semi-streamlined Mountain 6076 with the northbound Continental. This train, of course, passed through my hometown of Allandale (Barrie) in that era.

You alluded to an offer, didn't you?

This has been part one of four of some of my favourite trains from my first 24 books, in chronological order. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the June 25, 1954 date on which to base description of operations for eight of the first nine titles, I am offering free shipping for only four days (the run of this four-part series) on all titles in print.

You can find the railway titles under this tab:

And the fiction titles under this tab:

Concurrent with the limited time free shipping, keep in mind that all titles are still at reduced prices, as follows:

Steam Through Port Credit $79.95 $69.95 CAD / $67.95 $59.95 USD
all other hardcovers $69.95 $49.95 CAD / $59.95 $44.95 USD
Encounters series $39.95 $29.95 CAD / $34.95 $26.95 USD
softcovers $24.95 $19.95 CAD / $21.95 $16.95 USD
Washago/novel $19.95 $14.95 CAD / $16.95 $12.95 USD

What's next, and when?

Tomorrow, will take a look at favourite trains from the next six releases.

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