CM Archive
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Bill Coo.

Toronto, Greey de Pencier, c1982.
192pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-919872-77-8.

Grades 5 and up.
Reviewed by Beatrice E. Russell.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.

Scenic Rail Guide to Western Canada is written by Bill Coo, present manager of VIA Rail's tour programs. Having spent more than twenty-eight years with CN, CP, and VIA Rail, he is well-qualified to explain how the railway has affected Canadian life. The book contains a wealth of enlightening facts that are of interest whether one is travelling or reading for information. Amusing anecdotes and firsthand experiences of the author, make it come alive, especially for students. It is the first in a two part series, the projected second book being Scenic Rail Guide to Eastern Canada.

Questions such as: Who drove the last spike (in eight different places)?, What railway could you take to a funeral?, When is a railway station not a railway station?, spark the reader's interest.

The book tells where to watch for different kinds of wildlife such as owls, bears, and antelope. It tells what were the greatest train robberies, what great Canadian river is named for a man who never saw it, why Cathedral Mountain and Kicking Horse Pass were so named, and many other interesting facts.

The guide is very well organized, giving easy access to mile-by-mile information. The 175 photographs in colour show samples of the countryside through which the train travels. Fifty specially prepared maps show the rail routes, the connecting VIA Rail or Amtrack services, and connecting bus services. It includes road trips through the Rockies for those who wish to combine rail and road travel. There is one chapter on how to make train bookings, tips on travelling with pets and children, sending telegrams, dining and sleeping accommodations, and taking photographs from the train.

The travel guide gives complete coverage of the following routes: The Canadian (Montreal to Vancouver), the Cariboo Dayliner (from Vancouver to Prince George), the Skeena (from Calgary to Ed-monton to Prince Rupert), the Alaska State Ferry Route (from Prince Rupert to Skagway), the Gold Rush Route (from Skagway to Whitehorse), the Aurora Route (from Anchorage to Whittier and north to Fairbanks), the Malahat Dayliner (from Victoria to Courtenay), and the Prairie Schooner (from Regina to Ed-monton).

The print, though small, is clear and easily read. There is an index to the more important towns and cities through which the railways pass.

For those people who have already travelled some of the routes, the guide would help them relive many of their experiences. For those intending to travel it would be of tremendous help in deciding what trip to take.

Beatrice E. Russell, Lacombe, AB.
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