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BY STEAM BOAT AND STEAM TRAIN: THE STORY OF THE HUNTSVILLE AND LAKE OF BAYS RAILWAY AND NAVIGATION COMPANIES

Niall MacKay.

Erin (ON), Boston Mills Press, c1982.
80pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-919822-73-8.


Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by Albert P. Calame.

Volume 11 Number 3.
1983 May.


Niall MacKay, author of Over the Hills to Georgian Bay,* presents us with more results of his research of lesser known railways in central Ontario in this recent book published by Boston Mills Press.

This volume, which includes a discussion of both boats and trains, centres on the Muskoka Lakes region of Ontario and gives a view of the way a small area was opened to tourism through the stories of the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Railway and Navigation Companies.

The Portage Flyer, the train that ran over the portage between Peninsula Lake and the Lake of Bays, had the distinction of being the major train of the smallest commercially operated railway in the world, with a total trackage of 1 1/8 miles. This narrow-gauge line was used to make connections between the steam boats that ran on the lakes serving several small communities and the many inns that were built on the lakes.

MacKay chronicles the development of both water and rail transportation in this area from the mid-nineteenth century up to 1960, when the services ended and the equipment was either sold and sent to other places or scrapped.

The book is profusely illustrated with good photographs, well-reproduced, on good quality paper. Also included are some scale drawings and some maps, but I found the latter somewhat disappointing, for they seemed to lack sufficient detail and were not executed in as professional a fashion as the rest of the book or MacKay's previous work. A scale on the maps would have made them more useful. One weakness of the book is the lack of a table of contents or an index. Either would have made the book more valuable as a reference source.

On the whole, I am sure that steam and railway buffs will find this book quite enjoyable. MacKay's style is easy to read, and his inclusion of a chapter of anecdotes about the area and the services adds to the delight of the reader in learning more about the area and the subject.

This book is a worthy inclusion for libraries concerned with local history or with a high concentration of steam enthusiasts and railfans, for recreational reading rather than for reference.

*Reviewed vol. X/2 1982 p.97.


Albert P. Calame, Chateauguay Valley R.H.S., Ormstown, QC.
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