Saturday, September 14, 2013

Here Comes The Sun

I can't believe it's happened...another new book on VIA Rail! This one is from Morning Sun Books, and is written by Kevin J. Holland. Entitled VIA in Color - The First 25 Years 1976-2001, this profusely illustrated volume covers VIA's history in photos up to the advent of this millennium. This shows that there is still huge interest in all of VIA's eras, including books (clockwise from top left above) by Messrs. Gagnon, Shron, Holland and Nelligan.

In his Canadian Railway Observations review of my second book, reviewer Michael Berry presaged this in the following comment:

"If you are mostly just interested in full colour photo books a la Morning Sun Books, this is not for you." 

That's exactly it! The fact that there is the breadth and depth of interest in VIA Rail makes room for both types of books. Or, as book contributor (to Kevin's and my books) Jakob Mueller appraised Kevin's book:

"If you have any of Eric Gagnon's books, get this book. Conversely, if you get this book and want to learn more about the equipment you are seeing, get Eric's books."

I picked a copy today from Dave Cool of Brighton's Canadian Express Line. It is a beautifully-illustrated book. We all need more VIA Rail, and I'm glad that Kevin has devoted his book to covering the early, most diverse era of VIA's history. My books go into the detail I'll find pictured inside his book...rosters, unbelievably varied consists, history, photos, data, motive power rebuilds, equipment disposition, and first-hand observations of what it was like to ride VIA and watch it from trackside, throughout its interesting history.

Kevin's book is available now retailing for $59.95. My Compendium including delivery is $30, with ordering information for my books on this blog, and a printable order form at upper right.

Highball, Kevin!

Sunday, September 8, 2013


I was trackside in Brockville at the end of August. Not a big city. Not even a major VIA destination. But remarkable for another reason. Throughout VIA's history, Brockville has been an important operational point for the splitting of VIA trains heading east to both Montreal and Ottawa. When 6459 led VIA No 50 out of Brockville, it had just split from 6417's VIA No 52, just east of Brockville station.

Book contributor Gary Hadfield supplied an excellent, detailed account for Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium of Brockville operations. Trains also combined here from Montreal and Ottawa. I then wrote an entire section entitled Switching En Route, in which I discussed VIA's operational changes as it moved from CN and CP performing switching at Brockville, Winnipeg, Sudbury and other locations from splitting and combining its own trains. It's this kind of operational detail that is of value for those of us interested in modelling VIA and its history.
Just for fun, above are two images of train splitting operations in Brockville: 1980's and 2013.