Nova Scotia Railway Books

These books focus on, or contain significant references to railways in Nova Scotia. Titles are listed alphabetically. Not listed here are the many tourist guides published by the Dominion Atlantic Railway promoting its route through the Annapolis valley. Most of these guides mixed railway information with local history etc. See: The Land Of Evangeline Nova Scotia Annotated Guide. There are many general history books not listed here that include references to the railways. Among the most prominent are Meacham’s1880 Atlas of Pictou County, W.A. Calnek’s History of the County of Annapolis (W. Briggs, 1897), Isaiah Wilson’s Geography and History of the County of Digby, (1900); and James Cameron’s Pictou County’s History (Kentville Publishing, 1972.)

NOTE Bolded book names indicate written by society members

An Act For The Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, Together with the Act Authorising a Loan For the Halifax and Quebec Railway – Original legislation enabling financing for the construction of the Intercolonial as one of the Terms of Confederation. Compton & Co., Halifax, N.S. 1867

Addresses – Topics discussed by a former Nova Scotian MLA (from 1911 to 1923) and Lieutenant Governor (1925-1930.) Includes the Guysborough Railway and the Halifax Tramway, two of the premier railway issues in the province in the 1930s. By James Cranswick Tory. The Mortimer Company Limited, 1932.

The Albion Mines Railway of 1839-40: Some British Roots of Canada’s First Industrial Railway – Chronicles the “technology transfer” from Britain’s north country coal mines to Pictou County, Nova Scotia. By Herb MacDonald. Strath Lane Press, 2002.

All Aboard; The history and humour of a forlorn little train and the people and commodities it carried – The story of the Cape Breton Railway. By J. William Calder. Formac Limited (1974).

Along the tracks of the Dominion Atlantic and the Halifax & South Western Railways – A collection of old postcards and photographs of two abandoned lines. By Tony Kalkman. Kentville Publishing 2000. ISBN 0968792200

A railway to the isle: a history of the Strait of Canso railway car ferries, 1890-1955 – by Ted Rafuse, Steampower Pub., Port Hope, Ont. 2005. ISBN 0968547427.

Atlantic Bridgehead: The Story of Transatlantic Communication – The story of the transatlantic cable and flight, but includes railway history, especially The Great American and European Short Line Railway, and Sandford Fleming. By Howard Clayton. Granstone Press, 1968.

Atlas of the Maritime provinces of the Dominion of Canada, with historical and geological descriptions. Drawn on the rectangular polyconic projection, from the British Admiralty charts, the navigational boundary survey, official plans, railway surveys, latest and most reliable maps, and new surveys made by the authors – A.D. Roe, Roe Bros, St. John 1878.

Blessed events are coming to Halifax – Contains some history of Halifax’s trams, by the company that operated them. Nova Scotia Light and Power, 1948.

A brief history of “firsts” and other stage and railway facts, etc. in ye goode olde tymes: Clarke’s History of the Earliest Railways in Nova Scotia – The recollections of a veteran railway man. By W.W. Clarke. Hants Journal Press, 1925.

Built for war: Canada’s Intercolonial Railway – Corrects the idea that the ICR was “given” to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to get them to join Confederation, and suggests the military necessity of the line was vital to the defense of Canada. Jay Underwood. Railfare-DC Books Montreal 2005 ISBN 1-897190-00-X.

Canada at War: A Record of Heroism and Achievement 1914-1918 – Statistical account of the Intercolonial during 1914-18, and detailed list of railway employees who died in Europe. By Castell J. Hopkins. The Canadian Annual Review Ltd., 1919.

Canada’s National Railways; Their part in the War – Account of the roles played by government-owned railways, including the Intercolonial in the war of 1914-1918. Canadian National Railways, 1923.

Canadian National in the East, Volumes 1-3 – The first three volumes were written by CN’s former History Officer. The series gives an interesting insight into the government railway from the Ontario/ Manitoba border eastward. By J. Norman Lowe. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN (Vol. 1) 0-919487-00-9 (Vol. 2) 0-919487-04-1 (Vol. 3) 0-919487-14-9.

Canadian National in the East, Volume IV– Includes some history and photographs of CN’s operations in the Maritimes. By Keith Littlewood. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN 0-919487-50-5.

Canadian National Railways, Volume 1: Sixty Years of Trial and Error (1836-1896), and Canadian National Railways, Vol II: Towards the Inevitable, 1896-1922 – The detailed, but not entirely accurate history of Canadian National, commissioned by CN. The author was apparently born in the railway station at Tatamagouche, NS. By George Roy Stevens. Toronto: Clark, Irwin & Company Limited, 1960, Vol 2 Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin 1962.

Canadian National Steam Power – Little that is explicitly Nova Scotian in this but it is an invaluable source of loco detail on every steam engine that carried CN livery. 128 pp; many photos, tech drawings, & data tables. By Anthony Clegg & Ray Corley, Railfare, 1969.

Canadian Pacific’s Dominion Atlantic Railway, Volumes I & 2 – Photographs of the Annapolis Valley line. By Gary W. Ness. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN (Vol. 1) 0-919487-29-7 (Vol. 2) 0-919487-49-1.

Canadian Pacific in Color (Volume 1, Eastern Lines) – By Bill Linley. Morning Sun Books, ISBN 1-58248-099-0.

Canadian Pacific in the East, Volumes 1 & 2 – Photographs include Nova Scotia operations, by Canadian Pacific’s former Archivist. By Omer Lavallee. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN (Vol.1) 0-919487-09-2 (Vol. 2) 0-919487-30-0

Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotives; Omer Lavallee, Railfare Enterprises Ltd, Toronto, ON, 1985.

Chief Engineer: Life of a nation builder – Sandford Fleming – A more balanced review of Fleming’s achievements by Lorne Green. Dundurn Press Toronto 1993. ISBN 1-55002-195-8.

Chignecto Ship Railway, Canada – S.L. Doherty 1988.

Cinders and Saltwater: The Story of Atlantic Canada’s Railways – Brief histories of railways in the region. By Shirley E. Woods. Nimbus Publishing 1998. ISBN 1551090279.

Constructed in Kingston, A History of the Canadian Locomotive Companies 1854- 1968 – Donald R. McQueen & William D. Thomson, Ampersand Printing, Guelph, ON, 2000.

Dear Reader: History of Fall River and Windsor Junction – a single chapter on largely anecdotal railway-related events in the small community. Friendly Group Seniors History Club; Lancelot Press Ltd, Hantsport, NS, 1989 ISBN 0-88999-442-0.

Diesels in the Maritimes and Newfoundland – Photographs of the “new” locomotives. By Roger G. Steed. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN 0-919487-51-3.

Dominion Atlantic Railway: shortline study– Industrial analysis by the firm of Stevenson, Kellogg, Ernst & Whinney, 1988.

The East River Tramway of 1818: The Evolution of a Legend – Debunks the myth that a coalmine tramway in Pictou County was British North America’s first true railway. By Herb MacDonald. Strath Lane Press, 2002.

Electric City: The Stehelins of New France – The story of the community founded near Weymouth by the Stehelin family, and of their 17-mile pole railway, powered by a Robb-built locomotive. By Paul H. Stehelin. Original edition Lancelot Press Reprint by Nimbus Publishing 1983. ISBN: 1-55109-307-3.

Exit Steam, Enter Diesel – A veteran newspaperman’s photos of railway operations mostly in Nova Scotia. By Ian Donaldson. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA) ISBN 0-919487-46-7.

Forest, Stream and Seashore – Tourism book issued by The Intercolonial Railway and Prince Edward Island Railway of Canada, August 1901.

From Folly to Fortune: The firing of James Richardson Forman – The story of the political downfall of the Nova Scotia engineer who built the province’s first mainline railway, and his later success on the West Highland Railway of Scotland. By Jay Underwood, Railfare-DC Books Montreal 2007. ISBN: 1-897190-23-9 (paper) ISBN: 1-897190-24-7 (Hard cover) 170pp

Full Steam Ahead – The biography of Nova Scotia-born Alexander Mitchell, designer of the Consolidation-class 2-8-0 steam locomotive. By Jay Underwood, Lancelot Press, 1996 ISBN 0-88999-626-1.

Golden Jubilee Division 508 Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric, railway and Motor Coach Employees of America (A.F. of L. – C.I.O) affiliated with Halifax and District labour Council, Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress; 50 years of organization July 8th 1908-1958 to be celebrated at the Nova Scotian Hotel, Halifax, N.S. – Published by the Association, Halifax 1958

Guarding the railway bridge and the mystery of the bullets in the belfry – Undated, unattributed, Bedford.

The Guysborough railway 1897-1939 – Story of the often promised, but never completed line from the Atlantic port to the Intercolonial. By Bruce Francis MacDonald. Formac, 1973.

Halifax – City of Trolleycoaches – While focus is on the post-tramway era, this book has an introductory section on the Halifax street railway system – the “Birney cars.” 116 pp; many photos & maps. By Leger, Paul A & Loring, M Lawrence. The Bus History Association, Windsor Ont., 1994. (The book is vol 15, no 2, December, 1996, of a journal called Bus Industry.

The Halifax and Quebec Railway, considered with a view to its cost as well as the prospective business of the road – By William Pryor, James Bowes & Sons, Halifax 1851.

The Halifax Street Railway 1866-1949 – Don Artz & Don Cunningham, pub. Don Artz, Halifax, 2000.

The Harvest Train: When Maritimers Worked in The Canadian West,1890 –1928 – Much of the content deals with motivation of excursioners and experiences in the west but there’s a strong railway underpinning to this account. 160 pp; some photos. By A.A. MacKenzie. Also contains another paper on the excursion of 1908 by W J C Cherwinski originally published in Labour/Le Travailleur in 1980. Breton Books, Wreck Cove, CapeBreton, 2002.

Historical Colchester – Information and photos on the Intercolonial and Midland Railways and the Fossil Flour pole railway. By the Colchester Historical Society. Nimbus Publishing 2000. ISBN 1-55109-345-6.

The history of Canadian railroads: A compendium of railway histories with broad scope, this work includes a chapter on the Nova Scotia railway lines. By Greg McDonnell (Footnote Productions, London, 1985) 160 pages, illustrations and maps. ISBN: 0906286638.

History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway – The official history of the line that united the Annapolis Valley railways, and became part of the CPR’s empire. By Marguerite Woodworth. Kentville Publishing Co. 1936.

Impact of the future changes in railway services in the Maritime Province – Ramsay M.S. Armitage et al. Prepared by the Atlantic Provinces Transportation Commission, Moncton 1987.

Industry and Society in Nova Scotia: An Illustrated History – Edited by James E. Candow. A collection of essays detailing the history of Nova Scotia industry. Of particular interest are An Introduction to Nova Scotia’s Industrial Railways, by Robert D. Tennant, Jr., and The Iron Works of Londonderry, 1848-1910 by William D. Naftel. Fernwood Publishing, Halifax 2001 ISBN 1-55266-060-5.

The Intercolonial: A Historical Sketch of the Inception, Location, Construction and Completion of the Line of Railway uniting the Inland and Atlantic Provinces of the Dominion – The history of the construction of Canada’s first national railway by the man who built it. By Sandford Fleming. Dawson, Montreal 1876.

Iron Road: Railways of Nova Scotia – Brief histories of major Nova Scotia lines. By David E. Stephens. Lancelot Press, 1972.

The Inverness and Richmond railway – The history of a Cape Breton’s west-coast coal line. By Allister William Donald McBean. The Tennant Publishing House, 1987.

Ketchum’s Folly – The history of the ill-fated Chignecto Ship Railway, a scheme to transport ships by rail between the Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Fundy. By Jay Underwood, Lancelot Press, 1995. ISBN 0-88999-553-2.

The Land of Evangeline: Gateways Thither – by Charles G. D. Roberts. The first history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, by an acknowledged author and respected teacher at what is now Acadia University. It has become a standard text for Acadian genealogists. (Kentville, Nova Scotia, 1895.)

The Land Of Evangeline Nova Scotia Annotated Guide – Numerous editions, published by the Dominion Atlantic Railway. Numerous line illustrations, map end-papers, list of travel books and pamphlets published by the Dominion Atlantic Railway. Ca. 1946.

Lines of Country: an Atlas of railway and waterway history in Canada – Contains old maps showing lines long abandoned, By Christopher Andreae. Boston Mills Press,1997. ISBN-1-55046-133-8.

The Liverpool & Milton Railway – A brief history of the line that became part of the Halifax & Southwestern Railway after serving the Mersey River pulp mills independently for many years. By Maxwell L. Macleod. Desktop published by J.A. Alexander Ottawa 2002.

Man of Steel – The story of Sir Sandford Fleming – Hugh MacLean. A rewrite of Burpee’s Empire Builder, this book was available in oth young reader and adult version. Minor Nova Scotia content. Ryerson Press Toronto 1969. ISBN 7700-0303-6

Memories of railways in Bedford: Based on a talk given during the Heritage “80” events this short lecture is illustrated with a folded map. By George A. Christie, (Fort Sackville Press, 2003) A copy is available at the Halifax City Library, Spring Garden Road, Call #: 971.622 C555m.

North of the Colour Line: Sleeping Car Porters and the Battle Against Jim Crow on Canadian Rails, 1880-1920 – A pro-labour evaluation of the role the railway corporations played in the racist employment policies of the 1880s to the post First World War era. Well-researched, a great deal of Halifax content. By Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu Labour/Le Travail magazine Spring 2001.

Notes on the opening of the Pictou Railway – Sandford Fleming’s defense of his construction of the line from Truro to Pictou, features letter of support from engineers, minor history of project. By Sandford Fleming, 1867.

Nova Scotia and the Dominion Atlantic Railway – by G.M. Hutt & J.E. Whimster, Department of Industrial Development Canadian pacific Railway. G.M. Hutt, Montreal 1958.

The Ocean Limited: A Centennial Tribute – An history of the Intercolonial Railway passenger train that has become the oldest continuously scheduled named train service in the world. By Douglas N.W. Smith, Trackside Canada, Ottawa, 2004, 128pp, ISBN 0-9730521-2-0.

Old railway stations of the Maritimes – Includes period photos, history and architectural descriptions of many Nova Scotia railway stations. By Peter M. Latta. St Agnes Press, 1998 ISBN 0-9683769-0-8.

The People’s Railway: A history of Canadian National – The most up-to-date version of the national railway, dedicated to three Nova Scotia railroaders. By Donald MacKay. Douglas & MacIntyre, 1992 (See Train Country) ISBN 1-55054-062-9.

The Philosophy of Railways: The Transcontinental Railway Idea in British North America – Considers the relationship between nationalism and technology, and shows how the popular rhetoric surrounding the evolution of the Canadian Pacific Railway has mythologized the role of a private corporation and its technology. Not only does den Otter include the Maritimes in his analysis, but he employs a careful reading of national documents, including assembly debates, the private correspondence of major political figures, and newspaper commentary. By A. A. Den Otter. University of Toronto Press, 1997 ISBN 0-8020-4161-2.

The Politics of Freight Rates – An analysis of the economics of railway rates, especially Chapter 4 The Maritimes: From Confederation to World War I; and Chapter 5 Establishing the Freight Rate Issue in the Maritimes, 1919-1927. By Howard Darling. McClelland & Stewart, 1980. ISBN 0771025556.

Railroads of Canada – Overviews of many railways, including main Nova Scotia roads. By Robert F. Legget. Drake Publishers Inc, 1973 ISBN-0-87749-481-9.

Rails & Rooms: A Timeless Canadian Journey – Modern travelogue that recounts the history of CPR’s luxury hotels, including Halifax. By Dave Preston, Whitecap Books, Vancouver 2004. ISBN 1552850099.

The Railway Builders – Oscar D. Skelton’s history of Canadian railway development, minor Nova Scotia content. Glasgow, Brooke & Co. Toronto 1921.

Railway Country: Across Canada by Train– A travelogue of VIA Rail in the Don Mazankowski era, following the Pepin cuts of 1981 and preceding the Bouchard cuts of 1990. Minor Nova Scotia text, colour photos. By Dudley Witney & Brian Johnson. Key Porter Books, 1985. ISBN 0-919493-64-5.

The Railways of Canada For 1870-71 – A contemporary account of Canada’s railways, including the Glasgow & Cape Breton, Intercolonial, Nova Scotia Railway, and the Windsor & Annapolis. By J.M. & Edw. Trout. Monetary Times, 1871. Reprinted by Coles, 1970.

Railways of Canada: A Pictorial History – Brief histories of Nova Scotia and Intercolonial Railways are included. By Nick and Helma Mika. McGraw-Hill, Ryerson. 1978. ISBN 0-07-082815-6.

Railway postmarks of the Maritimes: a detailed examination of the railway post office and other transportation related devices used in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, between 1866 and 1971, based on hammer studies originated by Lewis M. Ludlow – Edited by Ross Gray, British North American Philatelic Society, Saskatoon, 2000.

Report to the Honourable Frank Cochrane, Minister of Railways and Canals, on Halifax harbour and the development of a project of modern ocean terminals. Published by the federal Department of Railways and Canal in 1913, this report details the plans for an expanded port and rail terminal at what is now Halterm. By Frederick William Cowie. 96 pages, folded maps. A copy is available through the Halifax City Library on Spring Garden Road, Call #: 387.1/C874r.

Rolling Home: A cross-Canada railroad memoir – Minor NS history in the first two chapters. By Tom Allen. Penguin/Viking, 2001 ISBN 067088473-1.

The Samson Locomotive Project: Learning Through Restoration – Chronicles the thorough examination of the construction of the General Mining Association’s locomotive Samson, first used on the Albion Mines in Pictou County. By Michael Bailey & John Glithero. Strath Lane Press, 2002.

Sandford Fleming: Empire Builder – Classic biography of Fleming, relevant chapters (4-8) give few technical details about ICR or Pictou Branch. By L.J. Burpee, Oxford University Press. 1915.

Sawpower: making lumber in the sawmills of Nova Scotia – Includes details of the connection between the railways and the lumber mills. By Barbara R. Robertson. A co-publication of Nimbus Publishing Ltd and the Nova Scotia Museum, 1986. ISBN-0-920852-53-X.

Scenic Rail Guide to Central and Atlantic Canada – Descriptions of the routes used by VIA Rail (some now abandoned.) By Bill Coo. Greey dePencier Books, 1983. ISBN 0-919-872-76-X.

Scenic Nova Scotia, Canada, Land of Evangeline: Along the Dominion Atlantic Railway- Photographic collection. By Photogelatine Engraving Co. Ltd., 1910.

Sentimental Journey: An Oral History of Train Travel in Canada – Lots of Nova Scotia throughout, with many unattributed snippets. By Ted Ferguson. Doubleday, 1985.

Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion and the road to recovery – Includes details of the damage to the railways (See The Town that Died.) By Janet F. Kitz. Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 1989.

The Stewiacke Valley and Lansdowne Railway Co. (Limited) – A prospectus for one of the most unsuccessful railway schemes in the province’s history. Contains the company’s by-laws and a list of directors. Guardian Power Print. 1887.

Storied Halifax – A tourist guide to the city, with text by Archibald Macmechan, and rather fanciful representations of the new shipping terminals then under construction (now the Halifax Ocean Terminals). By Canadian National Railways, 1916.

Story of the Musquodoboit Railway – By David E. Stephens Yagar Book Services, Musqodoboit Harbour 1979.

Summer Provinces By the Sea: A description of the Vacation Resources of Eastern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Canada, in the territory covered by the Canadian Government Railways – Tourist book from the golden age of travel in the region. Pull out map in rear of Intercolonial Railway and lots of illustrations throughout. By Romaine Callender. Intercolonial Railway of Canada, 1913.

The Sydney and Louisburg Railway – The story of this shortline built in Cape Breton to carry coal to tidewater. Steam, diesel and equipment rosters are included. By Ian Donaldson. British Railway Modellers of North America, (BRMNA). ISBN 0-919487-65-3.

The Town That Died – Account of the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917, the devastation to the railway, and the role the railways played in the disaster relief effort. This was the first book published about the disaster, and contains an account of Vincent Coleman’s telegraph to a train approaching city prior to the blast (see also, Shattered City.) By Michael J. Bird. McGraw Hill Ryerson, 1967.

Tracks across the landscape: the S & L commemorative history – History of the Sydney & Louisburg Railway, once described as the busiest railway in North America. By Brian Campbell. University College of Cape Breton Press, 1995.

Tracks across the Maritimes: true stories, old and new – Offers histories of the Chignecto Ship Railway, the Londonderry Iron Mines, the locomotive built at Sydney Mines, and the rail operations at the Iona Gypsum Co. on Cape Breton. By Michael MacKenzie.Robinson-Blackmore Printing & Publishing Ltd, 1985. ISBN-0-920612-18-0.

Train Country – The illustrated companion to MacKay’s The People’s Railway, features photos and information about Nova Scotia (Debert in war time). By Donald MacKay and Lorne Perry. Douglas & MacIntyre, 1994 ISBN 1-55054-153-6.

Trains of Recollection – The memoirs of the man behind MacKenzie and Mann’s Canadian Northern Railway, and Nova Scotia’s Halifax & Southwestern and the Inverness railways. Recollections of the Intercolonial’s wartime role in 1914-18. By David B. Hanna. MacMillan Co., 1924.

Train Time: nostalgic glimpses of a Wolfville boyhood during which train watching was a happy pastime – Recollections of steam in the Annapolis valley. By M. Allan Gibson. Lancelot Press, 1973.

Tram cars in East Pictou – History of Pictou County’s interurban electric street car system in New Glasgow-Stellarton and Trenton. By James M. Cameron. Kentville Publishing 1973.

Trams & tracks: the “Birneys” of Halifax, Nova Scotia – The history of Halifax’s electric railway system. By Russ Lownds. Halcraft Printers, 1990.

A Trip over the Inter-Colonial including Articles on the Mining Industries of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – By Frederick J. Hamilton. Gazette Printing House, 1876.

Truro, a railway town – Brief history of the town that is still the railway hub of the province. By David E. Stephens. Lancelot Press, 1981.

Visit of Their Majesties The King & Queen to Canada, Itinerary – A souvenir for the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, illustrated with many photographs and maps. The book shows the route the Royal Tour across Canada would take, featuring information and photographs of each stop along the way, including the Nova Scotia leg of the trip by rail from New Glasgow to Halifax as they made their way home. Canadian National & Canadian Pacific Railway, 1939.

Compiled by Jay Underwood 8 August 2007