British Columbia wouldn’t exist without the railway; the province was brought into the Canadian Confederation in 1871 in exchange for the promise of a transcontinental line to the West Coast. It was the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886 that set off economic development in the province, created the city of Vancouver and spurred others to build competing lines.

In Iron Road West, Derek Hayes charts the development of the province through its railway lines, using a wealth of photographs and other visuals to show how rails were laid through the wild terrain that characterized much of British Columbia. As railways revolutionized the province, they inevitably incited fierce competition and personal hatreds, creating an exciting frontier-like environment that Hayes describes in vivid detail. The book also covers the emergence of the modern freight railway in British Columbia, including fully automated and computerized trains. An extensive section details our railway legacy, including preserved railways, locomotives and facilities that can still be visited today. Prolifically illustrated, Iron Road West will fascinate not only railway enthusiasts, but anyone with an interest in the history of the province.



“This latest work by Derek Hayes, author of the essential Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley, lays out the story of the province’s railway system in a big, glossy, highly readable hardcover. While the archival photos are guaranteed to thrill the trainspotter on your list, the old maps and documents Hayes has collected here create something that will fascinate anyone with an interest in how we arrived at our current point in history. ” ~ Brian Lynch, The Georgia Straight

- The Georgia Straight

“It is obvious that Hayes is not only extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of railroading, but is also an accomplished photographer. Perfect composition, great lighting, and sharp focus are characteristic of his photographs, not all of which were taken under ideal conditions. Their skilful arrangement in the book is a feast for the eye.

Iron Road West: An Illustrated History of British Columbia’s Railways is not only a worthy addition to the reference library of the seasoned railway buff, but it also serves as an intriguing coffee table conversation prop for the amateur historian. ” -BC Bookworld, Walter Volovsek, spring 2019

- Walter Volovsek


“Derek Hayes, a White Rock based geographer, is clearly a fan of railways big and small. He lovingly describes the design details of various locomotives and the engineering feats required to cross the Rockies and lay rails along the cliffs of the Fraser Canyon.
He does so in energetic, lucid prose that invites the reader to share his enthusiasm. And he doesn’t miss many of the human interest and colour elements of this history, including pitched battles between gangs of workers associated with competing rail lines. ” ~ Tom Sandborn, Vancouver SunDecember 29, 2018

- Tom Sandborn

"The narrative is very well written and full of anecdotal tidbits. Anyone interested in B. C. history will like it… The many photographs and illustrations make this volume an ideal "coffee-table" book, and a delightful read and reference source for devotees of railway lore. " -Miriam Elder, The British Columbia Genealogist, June 2019

- Miriam Elder