From Folly to Fortune

By Jay Underwood

From Folly to Fortune
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James Richardson Forman was born in 1822 at Halifax, and returned from Scotland in 1854 to oversee the construction of the Nova Scotia Railway, the first publicly owned railway in the British Empire. But did he become a victim of Nova Scotia’s venal politics? He had been appointed ... Read more


Overview

James Richardson Forman was born in 1822 at Halifax, and returned from Scotland in 1854 to oversee the construction of the Nova Scotia Railway, the first publicly owned railway in the British Empire. But did he become a victim of Nova Scotia’s venal politics? He had been appointed to his post at the request of Reformer Joseph Howe, but was dismissed from office in 1858 by James W. Johnston, who became
Conservative premier of the province in 1857. Two years after he left for a brilliant career in Scotland, it was discovered that most of the reasons for his dismissal were the fault of his second-in-command, who was also Johnston’s nephew!

From Folly to Fortune examines the unfair treatment Forman received at the hands of his Nova Scotia countrymen, and asks the question if it could have been Forman, and not Sandford Fleming, who would later (in 1867 to 1876) have built Canada’s Intercolonial Railway from Nova Scotia to Quebec City, had he been allowed to stay on the project.

Jay Underwood is a former Nova Scotia journalist. From Folly to Fortune is the second of his books published by Railfare*DC books, and the fourth of his works on Canadian railway history.

Jay Underwood

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.

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