Saturday, February 10, 2018

1,215 Copies Sold!

This week I sent the last two remaining copies of the first print run of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections east and west, to Montreal and Alberta respectively. Don't worry, my printer will be getting an order for more. Printed locally, I'm always able to keep copies of all four books on VIA Rail in stock.

But with this last sale, I ran the numbers (see left sidebar for each volume's sales) and they total 1,215 copies of these four books that have found their way to store shelves, bookshelves and the hands of eager modellers and VIA Rail enthusiasts. Thank you for your support.

This winter and spring I'm working on a new book project. While it takes a slightly different tack, or track, it still includes VIA Rail and will focus on trainwatching in Canada's railfan capital, Portage la Prairie, MB. The project is called Trains & Grains - a two-volume set due out this spring.

CP Rail Action Red 1409 leads VIA's only roadswitcher, 8558 and CP GP-9 8519 into "Portage" on the Canadian on August 22, 1979. And you are there!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Now THAT'S a Christmas card!

"With every Christmas card I write..." crooned Bing Crosby in that festive chestnut 'White Christmas'. Well, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone who joined me in celebrating the fortieth anniversary of VIA by supporting my Trackside with VIA series, especially this year's Research and Recollections!

Greetings of the season to Lance Gleich for this Happy Holidays card that arrived today with his book order. Lance captions his photo, "VIA Rail Canada P42DC 900 wore the special wrap for Canada's Sesquicentennial as it departed Montreal, Quebec at Wellington Tower with Corridor train No 669 on an icy April 3, 2017"

This card is mantle-approved and Santa-approved. 
Thanks, Lance!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Honoured, Chris...

Fellow blogger Chris Mears posted his impressions about my books on VIA Rail, going waaay back to Trackside with VIA - The First 35 Years. It was December, 2011 when Chris first sent me an email about some of the discoveries he made, "Good evening Eric. I was leafing through Trackside With VIA when I discovered some really great GO consists. The first ones I saw were toward the back of the book and I'll admit that quoting the cliché of "Christmas morning excitement" is akin to what I felt as I headed to the section on the '76-'81 consists." 

I share that excitement, Chris! It, and responses like this one from good folks like you, are what make this journey so interesting, so rewarding and so enjoyable. 

Here is Chris' post from his Prince Street Terminal blog:

I remember reading my copy of Eric Gagnon’s first book on VIA Rail in a hotel room in the early morning hours of the day in the company of a friendly mug of hotel coffee, quietly as the sun rose and privately while the city considered how it might start its day. The book had arrived just in time to tag along on a road trip and I remember vividly how exciting it was to leaf through page-after-page of train consist data. I love exploring data. Any data. On the surface “the data” can sound like such a dry and uninteresting commodity yet it comes alive once you spend some time getting to know it. 

The more patiently you listen, the more passionate that once emotionless voice becomes as it rises to tell its story like the breathe that effortlessly becomes a opera. I remember how exciting it was to pick a particular car number and then search through the book to see how often it would appear on that particular train or if it ever appeared on another service. With each reading and then re-reading, I’d discover some new treasure like the many special consists Eric included – who knew that tucked neatly into the pages of a book dedicated to VIA Rail trains I’d find consists belonging to commuter train consists from Montreal or Toronto?!

In the years since that first book was released Eric has continued to tell this story. Where the first book was dedicated entirely to sharing Eric’s listings of train consists the follow-up books have so beautifully built on each preceding volume’s work and each time, contributing once more voice telling the story of VIA Rail’s operations through the eyes of the railfan. And it’s not just Eric, it’s amazing how the books have become a party attended by all the cool kids from the VIA Rail(fan) community.

This spring and purely by chance I found myself in a familiar place. The room changed but the hotel and the city? All old friends together again. With another mug of Cambridge Suites’ finest hotel room coffee in hand I was ready to attend the first pages of Eric’s most recent book. These books work so very well together and many times I find myself pausing so I can excitedly cross-reference an observation from one against a line from the other book. Just as Eric’s inclusion of the commuter train consists felt like a personal treat, this latest book’s chapter on VIA Rail yard operations feels especially special – thank you.

The books represent a truly rich collection of information published on the railway and I consider owning copies, a fortunate privilege. Just as the joy of travel by train is often described as one experienced as much in the destination as in the experience of the travel itself, these books are not simply something to own and have read but to read, to study, and to indulge in.

Thank you for investing in these, Eric, and making them available for us to enjoy. Like watching a trip unfold through the windows of a train car, I’m looking ahead hoping to catch a glimpse of what’s to come.


Here is Chris' original post. I'm grateful to Chris for the top photo of VIA 6905 at Montreal with the Renaissance demo cars, which appeared in my second book.

Highball, Chris!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Great Britain, great review

There are VIA Rail modellers in Canada. Even in the United States. And, Great Britain!

Recently, I was contacted by Peter Bowen, publisher of the The Roundhouse, the Official Publication of the National Model Railroad Association - British Region. This contact came through Edd Fuller,of the fine The Trackside Photographer blog. Peter kindly shared a review he wrote for The Roundhouse. The review highlights VIA Rail, more specifically Trackside with VIA - Research and Recollections, and the review is reproduced above. I enjoyed seeing Peter's photography in the early VIA era among the review text!

Peter kindly put me in touch with Linda Tinker Railway Books, a bookseller specializing guessed it...railway books!

This incredible series of connections clearly shows the global reach of the internet, of blogs, and the incredible interests of the international fraternity of rail enthusiasts. Even those interested in North American modelling, potentially specifically VIA Rail. I'm especially proud to have this connection with the land of Trevithick, of Brunel and of the Rev. W.W. Awdry. The home of trainspotting!

So, rail enthusiasts in Great Britain can buy copies of my books through the above-mentioned bookseller, on their home soil - that green and pleasant land.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cool on a Hot Day

The latest of several fine Canadian hobby shops to stock my latest book on VIA Rail is Canadian Express Line. Based in Brighton, today's train show in nearby Picton allowed me to make another delivery of a book order in person. Dave Cool was busy with customers when I got to his booth - I gladly 'took a number' to let paying customers get their throttle and magazines, respectively.

It was a hot day, and I found it warm in the arena, but it was cool to be a supplier as well as a customer to Dave. Cool! We agreed that my books on VIA Rail are highly specialized, very detailed and don't necessarily appeal to the 95% of model railroaders at the show. But the 5% inhabiting my particular micro-niche would be more than pleased.

Before I left the show, the books I delivered were priced and for sale, and hopefully heading to hobbyists' bookshelves. They're already on the Canadian Express Line website:
If you're placing an order with Dave, consider adding my latest book to your order.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Greenlaw-Gagnon-Greenlaw Exchange

The only thing better than talking to one VIAphile is talking to two VIAphiles. I had that pleasant opportunity this afternoon with fellow VIA author Chris Greenlaw stopped by to pick up a copy of my latest book. And brought his Dad, Tom!

Patterned on an earlier exchange, Chris picked up his copy of Trackside with VIA: Research and Recollections, much as he had back in 2012 picking up his copy of Trackside with VIA: Cross-Canada Compendium and Consist Companion. We not only share an interest in VIA books, we both enjoy the creativity and individuality with which we have created ours.

As the blue jays bathed and the leaves rustled, we sat on the patio and talked trains. Tom related his illuminating trip on VIA's Canadian, and is an avid G-scaler. Chris recently completed a cross-Canada road trip with his boys, wisely preserving it online in a Bonjournal blog and is obviously knowledgeable on not only VIA history but also VIA current affairs, foibles of the VIA website, missed business opportunities and their shrinking network.

Tom remembers buying a book from my booth at a Kingston Rail-o-Rama train show a few years ago. This made an initial connection between Chris and me that is still intact!

Chris' seminal MBI book on VIA Rail from 2007 remains THE authoritative history on VIA Rail.
It was great to meet with Chris and Tom!


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Free copy?

Trackside Treasure, my main Canadian railway blog, will be celebrating its ninth anniversary soon. As with each anniversary, I mark the occasion with a commemmorative post and a celebratory anniversary contest. This year, the prize will be a free copy of Trackside with VIA - Research & Recollections!

Due to orders received for my earlier three books in VIA, all are currently well-stocked! Thanks to Bryan Babcock of Allan Graphics here in Kingston for the to-the-door delivery!