A historical work of non-fiction that chronicles the little-known stories of black railway porters – the so-called “Pullmen” of the Canadian rail lines. The actions and spirit of these men helped define Canada as a nation in surprising ways; effecting race relations, human rights, North American multiculturalism, community building, the shape and structure of unions, and the nature of travel and business across the US and Canada. Drawing on the stories and legends of several of these influential early black Canadians, this book narrates the history of a very visible, but rarely considered, aspect of black life in railway-age Canada. These porters, who fought against the idea of Canada as White Man’s Country, open only to immigrants from Europe, fought for opportunities and rights and won.
Praise for Cecil Foster
“Cecil Foster is a wise man with a flair for storytelling and writing that enters the heart.” —Quill & Quire (Starred Review)
“Foster’s story of a West Indies community in transition is a marvelous read, filled with humour, sorrow, and wit, and told with the deft and gentle touch of a master storyteller.” —Thomas King
“Cecil Foster kicks up one hell of a class-war fuss and proves he’s got stuff enough to show those mediocre storytellers how it’s really done… Unforgettable.” —Toronto Star
“With Independence, Foster elegantly equates the coming of age of his protagonists with the coming of age of the nation. At the same time, he interprets that enduring theme so aptly articulated in the writings of critic Wilfred Cartey: I going away. I going home.” —National Post
“Sharp-edged…moving.” —Kirkus Reviews