Ian Wilson's blog

Welcome to the blog of Ian Wilson, author of the award-winning books on 1950s Canadian steam railway operations.

My favourite trains, part 2 of 4

June 24, 2024

Today, we continue our look back at my favourite trains presented in 24 book titles.

Steam at Allandale was a resounding success, with the print run selling out in 30 months. After many years of resisting, I reprinted that volume in January 2007.

Moving on with the next half-dozen titles...

The Allandale lines were my first love where the steam era was concerned, so I’d been collecting more photographs and archival material continually. Thus it was that in August 2007 we published a hardcover companion volume entitled Steam Scenes of Allandale. From that book, I choose the Huntsville Switcher as my favourite train, with Ten Wheeler 1363 in charge. A northbound freight behind Mikados 3739 and 3293 is also in the scene near Huntsville station.

My Steam Echoes of Hamilton volume had been put off for several years by the time it was published in November 2008. Not surprisingly, my favourite train from that network of lines was the branchline mixed which ran to Port Rowan and Port Dover via Simcoe. Here is Mogul number 88 with that train crossing the Grand River southbound at Caledonia. Interestingly enough, this engine served at Allandale for a year or two on the Alliston Subdivision mixed train (and is preserved today).

My last volume in the original steam series was Steam Memories of Lindsay, released in April 2010. For my choice of favourite train from that book, I defer to my father’s picture of Pacific 5589 at Midland in the summer of 1958. She’s on train 603-604 which ran six days a week between Lindsay and Midland. For this summer only, the train carried two wooden railway post office cars, seen behind the locomotive at the Midland station platform.

A new writing era beckons...

As those who know me can attest, by mid-2010 I was burnt out from producing nine hardcover railway volumes single-handedly over the course of a dozen years. After release of the Lindsay book, I wanted to do something more light-hearted, so I turned to writing a fiction novel in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mould. This became The Secret of the Old Swing Bridge, released in December 2010. Of course, the narrative centers around railway activity, in this case the summer of 1943. The Canadian Pacific mainline bridge at Severn Falls, on the MacTier Subdivision, figures into this mystery novel.

Washago had been the centre of action for my Swing Bridge novel, as I had a fascination for that railway junction during the time when my two sons were young. We spent many happy hours and days there watching trains, playing in the park, fishing and such. Thus, when I return to railway writing after a four-and-a-half year hiatus, I begin with a volume entitled Steam at Washago. This was released as an e-book in December 2014, then as a softcover print volume in December 2015. From that story we see Mikado 3288, southbound on the old Huntsville Subdivision mainline, just north of the Highway 11 road crossing and Washago station.

I had come back into my railway writing by employing fictional story lines. This began with the Swing Bridge novel and continued in Steam at Washago and then King’s Highways and Steam Trains vol. 1. In this latter softcover, released November 2016, our young heroes Angus and Amanda, introduced in The Secret of the Old Swing Bridge, travel back in time to visit railway branchlines in Ontario during the 1950s. Their forays include the Canadian Pacific’s Bobcaygeon Subdivision, with my favourite train from this book being the mixed which ran between Havelock and Bobcaygeon via Lindsay. Here it is behind Canadian Pacific D4g Ten Wheeler 434.

Recapping the special time-limited offer...

As mentioned in our first installment of this four-part reminiscence yesterday, we are recognizing the 70th anniversary of the narrative date June 25, 1954 with free shipping and reduced titles across the board. Grab what you need now! Here’s how much time remains for the free shipping (which expires at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, 2024):

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