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Canadian Railroad Trilogy [Hardcover]

Gordon Lightfoot , Ian Wallace
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 24.95
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Book Description

Aug. 9 2010
This lavishly illustrated book brings Gordon Lightfoot's heart-stirring song, "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," to readers young and old. The song was commissioned by the CBC in 1967 to mark Canada's centennial year and it has been a classic ever since. It eloquently describes the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway -- "an iron road runnin' from the sea to the sea" -- a great feat of nation building that changed Canada forever for good and for ill, as in the process many people died and were dispossessed of their land. Highly acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace brings the song to visual life with his sweeping landscapes and evocative portrayals of the people who lived the building of the railroad -- from the financiers in the East to First Nations people across the country to the thousands of navvies themselves, many of whom came from as far away as China. The book includes Gordon Lightfoot's music and lyrics, a brief history of the railroad, notes on the illustrations and further reading. "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," an extraordinarily special song, has inspired this very beautiful book that many will want to own as a keepsake.

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Price For All Three: CDN$ 42.94

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Product Details

Product Description

Quill & Quire

Gordon Lightfoot wrote one of his best-loved songs,  “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” in Canada’s centennial year, 1967. Lightfoot’s lyrics celebrate the vision and incredible effort that went into building the Canadian Pacific Railroad. They also celebrate the rugged and splendid terrain through which the railroad passes, and their rhythms suggest the desperation, longing, and exultation experienced by those who laboured on it.

Now Ian Wallace, one of Canada’s foremost picture book artists, has produced illustrations worthy of Lightfoot’s song in their intensity, evocative power, and shifting moods. Working in what is for him a new medium (chalk pastels), and creating scenes ranging from mountain landscapes to dream-like collages to humorous interiors, Wallace adds his own impressions of what the railroad has meant to Canada – including its effect on the First Nations and the heavy death toll among labourers.

In fascinating endnotes, Wallace comments on the symbolism and associations the images contain, such as the inclusion of a young Gordon Lightfoot’s likeness among the navvies singing in their bunkhouse as they’re “livin’ on stew and drinkin’ bad whiskey, / Bendin’ our backs ’til the long day is done.”

While the book’s list of suggested reading is aimed at young people, Wallace’s illustrations and his comments on their creation will appeal to adults as well. Melody line and chords are provided, but this beautiful book will doubtless send readers to YouTube to hear Lightfoot sing the song himself.


...heart-stirring... (Kathleen Robinson Calgary Sun 2010-11-23)

In this marvellous and yes, iconic, book, Wallace succeeds in both honouring Lightfoot's song and replaying it in a most original way. (Susan Perren Globe and Mail 2010-10-16)

Wallace lovingly recreates the country from coast to coast. From sketches of the mountains to the Prairies to the Maritimes, the book could almost be used as a tourist brochure. (Mark Medley National Post 2010-10-08)

...masterful... (Bayviews 2010-12-01)

...certain to inspire discussions between older readers and younger listeners about how Canada came to be. (Brenda Hoerle Guelph Mercury 2010-12-17)

...masterful... (Celia Jackson Bayviews 2010-12-01)

This lavishly illustrated book brings Gordon Lightfoot’s heart-stirring song “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” to readers young and old...Ian Wallace brings to the song visual life with his sweeping landscapes and evocative portrayals of the people who lived the building of the railroad. (Books For Everybody 2010-01-09)

Although some paintings show the railway in detail, it's less a book about railroads than it is about the history and settlement of Canada itself....a huge and unusual project, and Wallace has executed it with admirable care. (Publishers Weekly 2010-10-18)

Highly recommended. (Reesa Cohen CM Magazine 2010-10-08)

Well worthwhile for all Canadian school libraries! (Canadian Teacher Magazine 2010-11-01)

...generate[s] an interesting discussion with young learners about how railroad construction has contributed to economic development through the movement of people, goods, and even information across long distances. (Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 2011-02-14)

...Ian Wallace...has produced illustrations worthy of Lightfoot's song in their intensity, evocative power, and shifting moods...[a] beautiful book... (Gwyneth Evans Quill and Quire 2010-10-01)

The atmospheric illustrations ... 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. (Kirkus Reviews 2010-10-01)

I don't know of another more skilled Illustrator who could have done justice to these amazing words than award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace. The visuals are just jaw-dropping spectacular!...Highly recommended. (Reesa Cohen CM Magazine 2010-10-08)

This volume would be a perfect addition to a unit on Canadian history or the building of the railway for any age group...Well worthwhile for all Canadian school libraries! (Canadian Teacher Magazine 2010-11-18)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is basically a collection of illustrations to go with the lyrics of the song, and as such I guess it is OK.

I was most disappointed that there wasn't more written content. Other than a line from the lyrics across the bottom of each picture the entire text consists of 2 pages at the back of the book where the author talks about his inspiration for the pictures.

And as for the illustrations, someone once said "I don't know much about art but I know what I like". Well, I don't particularly like these ones. The people are all portrayed with somewhat distorted proportions, a bit too wide for their height and I am sure the author has never looked closely at either a steam locomotive or railroad tracks because they just wouldn't work if they were built the way he shows. I know they are not technical drawings and are only supposed to give an impression of what the lyrics mean to the artist but really, in this day & age with all of the historical images available on the internet without leaving your own home, there is no excuse for not at least getting the basic details correct.
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1.0 out of 5 stars this is sheet music--- not a book! July 25 2013
By Amanda
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Don't buy this if you're looking for the Gordon Lightfoot book. The kindle book is actually sheet music. I'm disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian railroad Trilogy Feb. 6 2011
By mldcos
Gordon Lightfoot's iconic song illustrated beautifully by well known illustrator, Ian Wallace. Captures Canadian history of the building of the railroad across the country. A book for all ages from children to adults. Children will love and learn with this book. Adults will be entranced to see a favourite song illustrated. Also a great coffee table book. Such a marvellous achievement of the melding of words and art.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book Oct. 23 2010
The book is awesome and my granddaughter loves it! The shipping time, however, was terrible! It took forever. I ordered it from Canada because I wanted my granddaughter to get it before it was released in the U.S. When I look at DHL tracking for the item, the book went all over the United States before it got to my granddaughter's house in New York.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Nov. 4 2011
This is a beautiful book. Lightfoot's classic song accompanied with superb illustrations. If you care about this country and its history, give it to a child in your life. I gave this book to my 4 year old grandson who is a train enthusiast(Thomas and all that). I read it to him one day after we had gone on a little hike to see crews rebuilding the historic Kinsol Trestle on Vancouver Island. He sat in rapt attention and was very excited when we came to the trestle page. Later he told his mom, "I love this book!"
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