CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Ferguson, Ted.

Toronto, Double-day, c1985. 246pp, cloth, $22.95, ISBN 0-385-23252-7. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Anne Locatelli

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

The making of the railways has been for years well-documented history, yet so many interesting stories connected with train travel lived on only in the memories of the people involved. Ted Ferguson, the author of Sentimental Journey, is a playwright and a journalist. An award winner, he has three other books to his credit: Kit Coleman, Queen of Hearts, * A White Man's Country,** and Desperate Siege: the Battle of Hong Kong. *** To produce his oral history, Ferguson obtained most of his material from strangers in a variety of places: on buses and trains, in offices and stores, senior citizens homes, and hotel lobbies. In Sentimental Journey, Ferguson highlights a collection of brief stories, none longer than two pages, as told by people who had either lived them, or seen them happen. Most of the stories have human value and universal appeal. Picture, for instance, the plight of three teen-age girls who missed getting back on the train after stretching their legs at an unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere on the prairies. Caught in a sweeping cold blizzard, the three spent seven endless hours huddled in a telephone booth, the wind howling all around them, before boarding the next train. "Canadians honeymooned, formed durable friendships, survived savage storms, went to war, drank and occasionally gave birth to babies on trains. . . ." Grouped according to their themes, the stories are presented in twenty-five distinct chapters bearing such titles as "Unforgettable People," "Bottoms Up," and "Politicians." Many of the people mentioned are common folk. Some, however, are famous; Pierre E. Trudeau, John Diefenbaker, and Gordon Sinclair, among others. People are celebrated throughout the book with their ideals, aspirations, faults, and peccadillos. The result is a warm, lively account of everyday life, both sad and happy, as it evolved on and around the trains. Three separate sections of black-and-white photographs, both vintage and current, illustrate this book that boasts an attractive layout and an illustrated jacket. Recommended for general interest readers, as well as for students of Canadian history and sociology.

Anne Locatelli, Elliot Lake S.S., Elliot Lake, Ont.

*Reviewed vol. VIII/4 Autumn 1980 p. 219.
**Reviewed vol. IV/2 Spring 1976 p. 44.
***Reviewed vol. IX/1 1981 p. 27.

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