Google books and the countdown to Christmas

06 Dec

According to the calendar, there’s only 19 more days until Christmas; hopefully I’ll get there! No, this isn’t 2012 on the Mayan calendar, nor do I expect to suddenly keel over at some point in the next few weeks (or at least I hope not). This is more a comment on the current state of things, which is usual given this time of year. September to December in the school year is a long haul, especially with all the things going on ie. football. By this point I’m getting a little burned out, and so are the kids; everyone needs a little break to re-charge the batteries! So, yes I will make it, but three weeks does seem like a long way to go!

Since I’ve now completely finished the football highlight video (going to YouTube next Sunday), I can now concentrate on some railway related matters (if I don’t get sidetracked with other things that is). I’m supposed to be starting to write the article, but the aforementioned tangent has already started. Last Friday I found myself on the internet scrolling through Google books. The net has really revolutionized researching with all the digital content that can now be accessed. While not everything is free or available, it really gives you a lot of direction as to where to look. The amount of scanned books and newspapers is simply astounding; makes it so much easier to find information that otherwise would be inaccessible. Anyway (see, it’s happening again!), I was searching for references to the railway in Google books which turned up some great material. In the 1887 Volume 13 of “Railway World,” I came across a very interesting development regarding the first aborted attempt to build the railway in the fall of that year.

One of the news items describes the commencement of construction, and lists Sir Alexander GaltThomas Marks and a “Alexander McEwin” as promoters. I was already familiar with Galt and Marks, but this was the first I had heard of McEwin, or rather McEwan. Turns out, while biographical facts are sketchy, that Alexander McEwan was some sort of promoter/financier. I haven’t narrowed down a place or date of birth, but working out of London, it seems he was extensively involved in railway and mining projects around North America (Grand Trunk, Reading Railroad). There were a few from the Thunder Bay area, such as Silver Islet, the Huronian Mine and the Jarvis Mine. He apparently died in 1891 in New York, but that’s as far as I’ve got. We’ll see what else I can dig up, as this is quite the interesting and intriguing discovery.

So maybe I will get to that article soon as I attempt to survive the next few weeks. I’ve got a pile of marking to clear up (ugh!) and tomorrow marks the start of winter football work-outs…didn’t the season just end? The more time I have, the more things I have to do! Anyway, hopefully I’ll have a word count at my next update; stay tuned.

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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Miscellaneous, Research, Writing


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