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Railway History by Jay Underwood

Built for War: Canada’s Intercolonial Railway


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Built for War, Jay Underwood, 256 pp., 6 x 9, History, October 2005

ISBN: 978-1-897190-00-5 (paper) . . . $39.95

ISBN: 978-1-897190-01-2 (Hard Cover*). . . $59.95

* This is a "Perfect-bound" book with added hard cover, but no separate dust jacket.


 

Built for War

Anyone who has had occasion to travel on VIA Rail’s oldest trans-continental train ‘The Ocean’ between Halifax and Montreal might wonder why the original route of the Intercolonial Railway took such a round-about course through northern New Brunswick.

The answer lies in the fear nineteenth century Canadian and British politicians had that the Americans might attempt to seize control of British North America in a winter attack. With the St. Lawrence river frozen solid, reinforcements from Britain could not reach the fortress at Quebec. Hence, the building of the defensive rail line, following “Major Robinson’s Path,” a much overlooked facet of the railway’s history.

Built for War: Canada’s Intercolonial Railway tells the story of Canada's first attempt to assert its sovereignty, and how the railway, built with military and economic objectives in mind, served its purpose so well.


 

Critical Comment

Built for War is Underwood’s third work of railway history and his largest to date.”

— The Weekly Press, Oct. 2005

“Conventional history suggests that the railway was something ‘given’ to the Maritime provinces as a condition of Confederation to improve the region’s economy. Instead, Underwood argues that the railway was a military necessity for defending central Canada from any invasion by the United States during the winter months.”

— The Charlottetown Guardian, Nov. 2005


 

Author Biography

Jay Underwood (1958-2013) lived in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, and had a life-long connection with the military and the railways. Born in Changi, Singapore, son of a Royal Air Force non-commissioned officer, he earned his diploma in journalism from Holland College of Applied Arts and Technology in Charlottetown, PEI. He was city editor of the Truro, NS, Daily News, and served for several years as the information officer for 1st battalion, the Nova Scotia Highlanders (North), Canada’s largest militia infantry battalion.

He joined the Halifax Daily News as senior copy editor and a member of the editorial board. His books include Ketchum’s Folly, a history of the Chignecto Ship Railway in Cumberland County (Lancelot Press 1995), Full Steam Ahead, (Lancelot Press, 1996), a biography of Nova Scotia born Alexander Mitchell, the designer of the 2-8-0 Consolidation type steam locomotive that went on to become one of the leading designs of the steam era.

Underwood acted as president of the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society, and was a contributor to Canadian Rail, the journal of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. His article “Fruit of a Poisoned Tree,” an examination of the adoption of standard gauge on Canadian railways, won the association’s award for best article in 2002.

 

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