Edward Mallandaine was there! To prove it he thrust himself into the historic photograph of the "Last Spike" being driven to mark the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Surrounded by the railway dignitaries of the time, his young face peers out amid their frosty beards.
Edward had just turned eighteen when he left his home in Victoria, British Columbia, to join the Canadian militia to fight Louis Riel in the North-West Rebellion of 1885. Hired to ride dispatches over the unfinished stretch of railway in British Columbia, he meets highway men, high officials, men of the North-West Mounted Police, and the denizens of saloons hidden away in mountain passes. He survives the lawlessness of remote towns and railway camps, rubs shoulders with Chinese labourers struggling to blast a right-of-way through the towering peaks of Eagle Pass, and makes a freezing midnight ride by railway flatcar to reach the outpost of Craigellachie just in time.
Ray Argyle has written for publications such as The Beaver and the National Post and is the author of several books, including Turning Points: The Campaigns That Changed Canada and Scott Joplin and the Age of Ragtime. He lives in Toronto.
The Boy in the Picture is a worthwhile addition to school and public libraries across the country
Mr. Argyle tells this Boys Own tale superbly. But then he lived a Tom Sawyer life himself, quitting school at 16 and roaming the country.
It is, admittedly, a book aimed at younger readers, but don't let that sway you. It is still highly readable, and it will help to shed new light on the construction of the railway 125 years ago.