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.
ìBuilt for War is Underwoodís third work of railway history and his largest to date. î ó The Weekly Press, Oct. 2005ìConventional history suggests that the railway was something ëgivení to the Maritime provinces as a condition of Confederation to improve the regionís economy. Instead, Underwood argues that the rasilway was a military necessity for defending central Canada from any invasion by the United States during the winter months. î ó The Charlottetown Guardian, Nov. 2005
Jay Underwood is a graduate of the journalism program of Holland College of Applied Arts and Technology in Charlottetown, PEI. Jay began his career in newspapers as a nightshift proof reader and obituary writer with the Charlottetown Guardian-Patriot. He then moved to the New Glasgow, Nova Scotia Evening News, as a reporter-photographer, and to the Truro, Nova Scotia Daily News as city editor. Briefly serving as city editor at the Timmins, Ontario Daily Press, he returned to Nova Scotia as editor and publisher of the Springhill-Parrsboro Record, and the Enfield Weekly Press, before joining the staff of the Halifax Daily News as senior copy editor and a member of the editorial board. Disabled by complications of diabetes that took most of his sight in 1999, Jay focused on his love of history and railways, producing Ketchum's Folly in 1995, and Full Steam Ahead: The life and locomotives of Alexander Mitchell in 1996 (Lancelot Press), and, more recently, from Railfare*DC Books: Built for War: Canada's Intercolonial Railway' in 2005, From Folly to Fortune in 2007, and Ghost Tracks in 2009. Now in his third term as president of the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society, Jay and his colleagues were successful in preventing the historic 1905 vice-regal railway car Alexandra from being scrapped, and the car is now being relocated to a museum site at Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia for restoration and public display. He is a frequent contributor to Canadian Rail, the journal of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association.
“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
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