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CANADIAN RAILROAD TRILOGY by Gordon Lightfoot Kirkus Star


by Gordon Lightfoot & illustrated by Ian Wallace

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-88899-953-5
Publisher: Groundwood

Sir John A. Macdonald once envisioned what Gordon Lightfoot called “an iron road runnin’ from the sea to the sea”—the Canadian Pacific Railway, begun in 1885. In this dramatic, oversized tribute to the construction of that mighty railroad, both the lyrics of Lightfoot’s song “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” (1967) and Wallace’s dazzling chalk pastels powerfully illustrate the manifestation of that ambitious dream, emphasizing the ethnically diverse people who made it possible and those whose lives were forever changed by it: “We are the navvies who work upon the railway, / Swingin’ our hammers in the bright blazin’ sun. / Layin’ down track and buildin’ the bridges, / Bendin’ our backs ’til the railroad is done.” The atmospheric illustrations—each explained in wonderfully detailed endnotes—capture not only the workers’ toil but also the splendor of the Canadian landscape and, obliquely, the price the displaced First Nations people paid for steam-train technology. (music and lyrics, illustrator’s notes, a brief history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, further reading) (Picture book. 4-8)