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Railway History by Jay Underwood

From Folly to Fortune

FromFollyToFortune Cover

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From Folly to Fortune, Jay Underwood, 198 pp., 6 x 9, History, August 2007

ISBN: 978-1-897190-23-4 (paper) . . . $29.95

ISBN: 978-1-897190-24-1 (Hard Cover*) . . . $49.95

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From Folly to Fortune

James Richardson Forman was born in 1822 at Halifax, and returned from Scotland in 1854 to oversee the construction of the Nova Scotia Railway, the first publicly owned railway in the British Empire. But did he become a victim of Nova Scotia’s venal politics? He had been appointed to his post at the request of Reformer Joseph Howe, but was dismissed from office in 1858 by James W. Johnston, who became Conservative premier of the province in 1857. Two years after he left for a brilliant career in Scotland, it was discovered that most of the reasons for his dismissal were the fault of his second-in-command, who was also Johnston’s nephew!

Collusion and Corruption in Nova Scotia Railway Politics

From Folly to Fortune examines the unfair treatment Forman received at the hands of his Nova Scotia countrymen, and asks the question if it could have been Forman, and not Sandford Fleming, who would later (in 1867 to 1876) have built Canada’s Intercolonial Railway from Nova Scotia to Quebec City, had he been allowed to stay on the project.

Jay Underwood is a former Nova Scotia journalist. From Folly to Fortune is the second of his books published by Railfare*DC books, and the fourth of his works on Canadian railway history.


 

Author Biography

Jay Underwood (1958-2013) lived in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, and had a life-long connection with the military and the railways. Born in Changi, Singapore, son of a Royal Air Force non-commissioned officer, he earned his diploma in journalism from Holland College of Applied Arts and Technology in Charlottetown, PEI. He was city editor of the Truro, NS, Daily News, and served for several years as the information officer for 1st battalion, the Nova Scotia Highlanders (North), Canada’s largest militia infantry battalion.

He joined the Halifax Daily News as senior copy editor and a member of the editorial board. His books include Ketchum’s Folly, a history of the Chignecto Ship Railway in Cumberland County (Lancelot Press 1995), Full Steam Ahead, (Lancelot Press, 1996), a biography of Nova Scotia born Alexander Mitchell, the designer of the 2-8-0 Consolidation type steam locomotive that went on to become one of the leading designs of the steam era.

Underwood acted as president of the Nova Scotia Railway Heritage Society, and was a contributor to Canadian Rail, the journal of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. His article “Fruit of a Poisoned Tree,” an examination of the adoption of standard gauge on Canadian railways, won the association’s award for best article in 2002.

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