Robert D. Turner
Robert D. Turner is a multi-award-winning author of fifteen books, with several more in the works, and over 350 articles on railway and steamship history. He has had several thousand photographs published in books, magazines and journals as well as presented in exhibits. He is Curator Emeritus at the Royal British Columbia Museum, where he was Chief of Historical Collections for many years. Bob has travelled around the world photographing and documenting surviving early railways, the lives of workers and communities, and industrial history in South American, Africa, many parts of Asia and Europe.
Among other projects, since 1988 he has been Project Historian at the SS Moyie National Historic Site at Kaslo, BC, where a major restoration is underway on the world's oldest passenger sternwheeler. For his work on Canadian railway history he received the Canadian Railroad Association's Lifetime Achievement Award. Bob was writer in residence at Pierre Berton House in Dawson City in the spring of 2009. He lives in Victoria, BC.
"Bob's pure magic to those who've ships and trains in their blood."
-- Charles Lillard.
"Turner is unquestionably the leading authority on B.C. transportation history, having produced seven books, with two more on the way."
Robert Turner speaks about his work in this video.
Titles by the Author
The CPR Steam Years, 1905-1949
The Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway had a special character and charm like few others. Skirting the easterncoastline of Vancouver Island in british Columbia, it was separated from the rest of the national andcontinental rail network by the Georgia and Juan de Fuca Straits. During the days of steam power on the railway, it was a distant and often rustic outpost of the Canadian Pacific Railway's vast system, but it was a profitable one. It hauled logs and coal, fish and paper, strawberries and raspberries, beer and wine, automobiles and oil, and tons and tons of wood. The E&N carried soldiers off to two world wars, toured royalty on Vancouver Island and carried hundreds of passengers in stately parlour cars or rickety day coaches. The mail was sorted on the trains and could be delivered "Up Island" in a matter of hours. The E&N's well-maintained steam locomotives were the pride of the railway.
Engineers, conductors and other crewmen were known up and down Vancouver Island. The railway was like a family to many who worked on it; many stayed with it for their entire careers. It did much to shape the character of Vancouver Island and provided the key links between people, places and the goods and services they needed and produced. It was essential and irreplaceable.
Carefully researched, sensitively written and beautifully illustrated, this book captures the E&N in its many moods. Hundreds of never-before-published rare photos, including some exceptional colour images from the 1940s, and an extensive and insightful text document the railway, the people who worked on it and all those whose lives it shaped.
Railway/History • 288 pp • 11x 9
ISBN 978-1-55039-206-7 • hardcover • $49.95
ISBN 978-1-55039-204-3 • softcover • $39.95
The British Columbia Story
Fourth printing! An insightful history and a sweeping portrait of railroad logging in British Columbia. The book begins with the small rail logging operations of the 1880's and continues through the height of the steam era, two world wars, the Depression, the change to truck logging and the last steam and dieselized logging lines. Stunning photos, specialized steam equipment, maps, plans, interviews and a carefully researched text highlight this favourite. Winner of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association Book Award. 500 photos including many in colour.
An Illustrated History of the Canadian Pacific's Trans-Pacific Ocean Liners
From Vancouver and Victoria on the west coast of British Columbia, across the North Pacific by the great circle route that skirts the Aleutian Islands, to Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and the Philippines; this was the realm of the Pacific Empresses. For fifty years these beautiful ocean liners provided a fast link with the Orient. The Empresses brough tea, silk, spices and produce from the Orient and returned with Canadian cargoes.
The first Empresses came to the Pacific in 1891, providing a fast, reliable steamship service connecting the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway with the Orient. The ships were the beautiful clipper-bowed Empresses of India, China and Japan. Later, as steamship design advanced and the service grew, the larger, record-breaking Empress of Russia and Empress of Asia joined the fleet. The Empresses consistently broke speed records for the North Pacific and set standards of service and reliability few steamship lines could match.
Nautical • 200 pp • 8½ x 11
ISBN 0-919462-61-8 • hardcover • $49.95
ISBN 1-55039-149-6 • softcover • $39.95
An Illustrated History of the Canadian Pacific Railway's Princess Fleet on the Northwest Coast
The Pacific Princesses were the finest and most elegant coastal steamships on the Northwest Coast of North America. For over one hundred years, the Princesses and their predecessors provided the communication links, the routes to market and often the only means of travel along the rugged, glaciercarved Pacific coast. These famous steamships, still remembered with affection and fondness, were household names all along the coast.
With over 300 photographs and illustrations, drawings, maps, timetables, a full bibliography and index. Beautifully designed and printed, and of the same high quality as its companion volume, The Pacific Empresses, The Pacific Princesses is an essential addition to any history or ship-lover's library.
The Canadian Pacific's Princesses
The Princesses were the finest coastal liners on the Pacific coast. They broke all the intercity speed records between Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle and established an enduring reputation for elegance and beauty that remained unmatched for over sixty years. Their names became legends along the coast and they were the best and often the only way to travel along the British Columbia Coast. The Princess Victoria, Princess Kathleen, and the lovely Princess Marguerite, the last of the coastal liners, are just a few of the beautiful steamships remembered in this all-new volume.
Memories of the Oldest Sternwheeler
For nearly 60 years, the mountains of the West Kootenay region in southern British Columbia echoed to the deep, resonant whistle of a steamboat called the Moyie. The Moyie was the last passenger-carrying, sternwheeled steamboat operating in western North America. She is a National Historic Site and a Provincial Historic Landmark. An affectionate biography of the Moyie, extensively illustrated with photos and drawings spanning her entire career.
Steamboat Days in the Okanagan
In 1914 the Sicamous was the epitome of elegant, efficient travel in the Okanagan and one of the finest vessels ever to operate on British Columbia’s inland waters. For the next 23 years, this stately Canadian Pacific sternwheeler carried passengers, mail, express and the prized fruit of the Okanagan. The Naramata served the Okanagan for 53 years and is now the last surviving steam tug in the Interior of British Columbia. Here is the story of two ships... their history, service, restoration and the heritage preservation efforts surrounding both vessels.
The Kaslo & Slocan Railway
co-authored with David S. Wilkie
The Skyline Limited is a fascinating account of the dramatic story of the Kaslo & Slocan Railway—the Great Northern's narrow gauge—in the rugged Slocan Mountains of British Columbia's West Kootenay district during the 1890s and early 1900s. Here too is the story of the beautiful sternwheelers that connected the K&S with other Great Northern branch lines. Over 300 illustrations. Canadian Railroad Historical Association Book Award Winner.
Canadian Pacific, Great Northern and the Great Boundary Copper Boom
co-authored with J. S. David Wilkie
Steam Along the Boundary brings to life one of the most fascinating eras of British Columbia's railway and mining history: the great copper boom that seized the Boundary District in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The rival Great Northern and Canadian Pacific railways, along with the fledgling Kettle River Valley Railway, were the major players in a fierce competition for the rich ores and copper wealth from the region.
After less than 25 years the boom was over, the mines depleted and the smelters gone, but the railways remained, carrying passengers, lumber, fruit, and settlers through the rugged and beautiful mountains.
A Railway Heritage Remembered
The Kettle Valley Railway defied the topography of British Colombia. Endless hours of hard, dedicated work were needed to keep the trains running safely through the scorching summers and endless winter snows, and over seemingly endless grades. Many newly discovered photographs and first time interviews. Two paintings by Max Jacquiard.
An Illustrated History of the Canadian Pacific Railway's British Columbia Lake and River Service
The dramatic story of the CPR sternwheelers which served the waterways of southern BC, connecting the major rail lines with remote mining camps, boom towns and settlements. These beautiful sternwheelers served the interior for decades and their routes traversed some of the most breathtaking country in western Canada. The Stikine River service of the Klondike Gold Rush era is featured, and new material looks at the restoration projects surrounding two CPR sternwheelers and other early vessels. First time in paper, includes new colour photographs.
A Tribute to the Denver & Rio Grande and the Cumbres & Toltec Railroads
Robert Turner's beautiful and moving tribute to the Rio Grande's narrow gauge and the Cumbres & Toltec is his 14th book on western transportation history. This stunning volume chronicles the story of one of the finest preserved steam railroads in North America, from its origins as the Denver & Rio Grande's San Juan Extension in the 1880s silver mining boom, to its present-day operations as the spectacular Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The book spans more than 125 years of railroading in the beautiful aspen-covered high country of Colorado and New Mexico.
Rail operations on Vancouver Island date from the 1860s. The equipment and lines were as diverse as the terrain, budgets and needs of the times. Turner looks at mining, logging, the Equimalt & Nanaimo and Canadian National Railways: the small, the large and the obscure! Maps, timetables, reproductions—over 250 illustrations and information on everything from hastily built logging lines to the spotless Canadian Pacific Ten-Wheelers, from narrow gauge coal lines to Victoria's classic streetcar system. Available in paper and a special limited cloth edition.
The Canadian Pacific Railway's First Century in British Columbia
Updated edition. A complete and detailed history of the CPR in B.C., from the glorious days of huge steam locomotives and elegant dining, to the luxurious Canadian and modern diesels hauling coal and containers. Included are the personal stories of the men who built this railway, and the enormous construction problems, hazards, frustrations, tragedies and engineering triumphs. Detailed accounts of day-to-day operations, endless battles with winter snows and mountain grades. The steam era of the 1920s to 1950s receives particular attention. Over 400 dramatic vintage photos capture the CPR's first century in British Columbia.