Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach train era
Until 1950s, the train was often only way to reach places such as Victoria Beach. The railway opened up Manitoba’s cottage country. This book captures the clickety-clack of steam trains and the romance of Grand Beach.
A view of Grand Beach in 1920, featuring the pier, dance hall, carousel, bath houses and boardwalk. Imagine that if you can. Photo by Lewis B. Foote.
train lover for over seven decades, Barbara Lange has written a book that will bring back fond memories for many. Barbara’s train adventure began in childhood when her dad, an English railway conductor, used his pass to take the family to English beaches. When Barbara was five years old, her dad lifted her into the waiting arms of an engineer in the cab of a steam engine. “The image of coal being shoveled into its roaring orange- flamed belly is seared into my memory,” she says. Her train experiences evolved when, as a young woman, she commuted by train from her home in Brentwood, Essex, to her office job in London. Hap- pily ensconced in the rolling clickety-clack, she read Agatha Christie mysteries and Barbara Cartland ro- mance books, as well as biographies and autobiogra- phies.
A Now living in Winnipeg and in her seventies, Barba-
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ra’s writing took on a railway slant as she interviewed people whenever she and her husband rode VIA Rail’s historic train across Canada.
Influenced by memories of her own train trips to English beaches, and upon learning a rail line (Victo- ria Beach Sub Division) once ran to the East Beach- es of Lake Winnipeg, Barbara sought out people to capture their memories about that historic Manitoba era, before the memories vanished like sandcastles in a storm. Now, if she wants to, she can ride the rails read-
ing two books she has written: Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology (Borealis Press, 2010) and her newest book, Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train Era (Bo- realis Press, 2018). Barbara was thrilled when VIA Rail placed an initial order for Through the Window of a Train to sell in stations across Canada. She had
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hoped a collection of railway-themed short stories would please train passengers.
Barbara also has a metaphysical bent, and likes “un- seen mysteries”. Winnipeg’s Union Station has some ghostly visitors plus “orbs.” Orbs are small balls of light not usually visible to the naked eye, but which can often appear in photos. Some appear in Memories of the Moonlight Special. What started as family outings by train to the Eng-
lish seaside has morphed into a writing and marketing career in Manitoba.
Barbara and husband, Larry, a CN retiree, still love train travel and try to take a trip every year. Barbara’s book may be obtained from McNally Rob- inson Bookstores, Grant Park Mall, and The Forks, and from Indigo, Chapters, and Coles, Smiths bookstores across Canada. Her books are also sold as ebooks on Apple, and Kobo.
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