Last Train to Toronto
Terry Pindell made his reputation as a travel writer with his first book, MAKING TRACKS: AN AMERICAN RAIL ODYSSEY (1990). Pindell proved that he was a thoughtful observer and that he was adept at chronicling the human story while never losing sight of the historical perspective. In LAST TRAIN TO TORONTO, the author expands upon the strengths employed in MAKING TRACKS. This latest journey was inspired by the Canadian government’s austerity plan calling for a drastic cutback of passenger rail service. Pindell relates the historical details of the building of Canada’s transcontinental railroad. He makes the point that because of the vast Canadian landscape there would be no Canada as it exists today without the railroad linking Eastern Canada with Western Canada. Pindell has a way of bringing history alive and weaving the historical narrative seamlessly with his own personal memoir.
LAST TRAIN TO TORONTO is also the story of the author’s encounters with the fiercely independent Canadian people and other international travelers like himself who relish the unique satisfaction that only train travel can deliver. The conversations that Pindell has with a variety of strangers are wonderfully blunt. It is made evident that many Canadians do not have kind things to say about Americans. It also becomes very clear that Canadians have opinions on just about everything. Pindell takes some length to elucidate the French-Canadian separatist movement and how it could tear the country apart. With the French-Canadians up in arms, the various Indian tribes wish to point out that their claims to the land predate those of all Europeans. LAST TRAIN TO TORONTO is a wonderful mix of travelogue, memoir, social study, and history.