Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Our BLG reader Bill brought in an amazing book today!  Canadian Railroad Trilogy illustrated by award winning artist Ian Wallace is the illustrated version of Gordon Lightfoot’s song Canadian Railroad Trilogy. “We weren’t even born then!” the students exclaimed when told that this song was performed on New Years Day in 1967 in honour of Canada’s centennial.


This is a physically heavy book – the song travels through each page of “striking, catch your breath, sigh” kind of art by Ian Wallace. It also contains the song lyrics, the music, the illustrator’s notes and a brief history of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run . . .

Lightfoot wrote this classic song in just 3 days! Artist Ian Wallace took 21 months to complete the illustrations for this book and used a medium new to him – chalk pastels. We see the truly stunning Canadian landscapes and pictures of the many people involved in building the railroad.

But time has no beginnings and history has no bounds

Bill read us the story and then played us the song and flipped through the pages again following along.  The room was completely silent, all eyes on the book. A few little fingers skimming under the text. A magical few moments!  Thanks Bill for sharing this book with us today!

Our student reviewers report:

Ricky (who plays the piano :)): I like this book because the book is written by a special author – Gordon Lightfoot. He wrote a poem in the book and you can actually play it on the piano. The book has a piano song in it. The book also talks about the pictures of the book. That’s what I really like about the book.

Kevin: My favourite picture is page 21 and 22. I like that page because I like snow. It made me visualize me in the snow.

Jena: All the art in the book is too beautiful for me to choose which one is my favourite. Oh and one more thing to say: “I LOVE THIS BOOK!”

Edwin: The book was the calmest book I been read by a reader. It was special to me and the book had the beautiful pictures and the beautiful songs.

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