Off the Tracks
A Meditation on Train Journeys in a Time of No Travel
Train travel is having a renaissance. Grand old routes that had been canceled, or were moldering in neglect, have been refurbished as destinations in themselves. The Rocky Mountaineer, the Orient Express, and the Trans-Siberian Railroad run again in all their glory.
Pamela Mulloy has always loved train travel. Whether returning to the Maritimes every year with her daughter on the Ocean, or taking her family across Europe to Poland, trains have been a linchpin of her life. As COVID locked us down, Mulloy began an imaginary journey that recalled the trips she has taken, as well as those of others. Whether it was Mary Wollstonecraft traveling alone to Sweden in the late 1700s, or the incident that had Charles Dickens forever fearful of trains, or the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt trapped in her carriage in a midwestern blizzard in the 1890s, or Sir John A. Macdonald’s wife daring to cross the Rockies tied to the cowcatcher at the front of the train, the stories explore the odd mix of adventure and contemplation that travel permits.
Thoughtful, observant, and fun, Off the Tracks is the perfect blend of research and personal experience that, like a good train ride, will whisk you into another world.
Pamela Mulloy is the author of two novels, including As Little As Nothing (2022). She is the editor of the New Quarterly and director of the Wild Writers Literary Festival. She has lived in the UK, Poland, and the US. She now lives in Kitchener, Ontario.