Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume I


160 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919130-37-2




Reviewed by Les Harding

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


J. Derek Booth is a geographer who teaches at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He has long had a professional interest in the historical geography of the Eastern Townships of Quebec and the role railways have had in the region’s development.

The author recreates the railway fever, corporate manoeuvering, and cut-throat competition that gripped the Townships a century ago. One line that could not afford to bridge the St. Lawrence had to lay track on the ice each winter. The railways discussed are the Stanstead, Shefford and Chambly, the South Eastern, and the Missisiquoi and Black Rivers Valley. Each section describes a railway’s history, construction, equipment, economic viability (usually slender), and impact on the region, and concludes with a brief summary.

As a special treat for the rail buff there are about 100 exceedingly rare black-and-white photographs of the railways in operation. A dozen well-drawn maps are also included. At the back of the book we have a list of railway acronyms, the locomotive roster of the South Eastern Railways for 1883, a list of railway abandonments, and an index. As befits the author’s academic training, the bibliography is excellent and very complete. The end papers reproduce, in colour, some railway tickets of the time.

The book is handsome to look at, easy to read, and well laid out — altogether, a very good production. It will appeal to railway specialists and to those with an interest in the history and development of the Eastern Townships.


Booth, J. Derek, “Railways of Southern Quebec, Volume I,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38738.