Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume II


168 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919130-39-9




Reviewed by Les Harding

Les Harding is author of The Voyages of Lesser Men: Thumbnail Sketches
in Canadian Exploration.


J. Derek Booth is a graduate of McGill University and a geographer whose research interests in historical geography include the roles of railways as agents of landscape change in southern Quebec. Since the late 1960s, he has taught at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where he is Professor of Geography.

Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume II continues the story of railway development in the Eastern Townships that was begun in Volume I, published in 1982. The period covered in Volume II is from roughly 1880 to 1920, at which time the railway network for the region was completed.

The two main railways discussed are the Waterloo and Magog, and the Orford Mountain. The former was an example of a locally sponsored line built on a shoestring budget and operated in a sparsely populated region. The purpose of such lines was to spur economic development. The Orford Mountain was a resource line. It depended on the freight revenue generated from the mineral and forest industries.

The final chapter touches on the history of more than a dozen small railway companies that together give southern Quebec one of the densest railway grids in Canada.

The book includes 125 rare black-and-white photographs and 15 maps. The reproduction quality of the illustrations is good. At the back of the book are notes, references, and appendices that list railway acronyms, railway abandonments, the locomotive roster of the Orford Mountain Railway, and a thorough bibliography. Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume II is a handsome, well-produced book that will be welcomed by those interested in Canadian railways or in the economic history of the Eastern Townships.


Booth, J. Derek, “Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume II,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36545.