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A Ribbon of Shining Steel: The Railway Diary of Kate Cameron is the fifth fictional diary in the Dear Canada series. It was published in September 2002 by Scholastic Canada. The book was written by Julie Lawson and is her first for the series. It was followed by Whispers of War by Kit Pearson.


"In memory of my parents, Jean and Charles Goodwin, and my CPR grandparents, John and Lydia Anderson—for all my early journeys on the railway."

Book description[]

"Monday, September 11, 1882
Mr. Hagan has a map on his wall so he can keep track of the railway progress. There is a lot of tracking to keep, with gangs working in different sections all through the Fraser Canyon—blasting tunnels, laying track, building bridges and so on.
Wednesday, September 13, 1882
Why am I cursed with brothers? This is what horrid Toby said today—"I can see his brains, Kate! They're oozing all over the stretcher!"
It was a gruesome sight, but I felt obliged to have a look so I could record the details in my Diary. Alas, Mama yanked us away from the window and drew the curtains. She is forever scolding Papa for buying a house so close to the Accident Hospital.
Mama helps care for the accident victims. I would help, too, but I may not be brave enough to withstand the sight of too much blood.



Historical Note[]


Main article: List of A Ribbon of Shining Steel characters


Main article: Julie Lawson



  • Resource Links, Best of the Year (2002) - commended[3]
  • Canadian Children's Book Centre, Our Choice (2003) - commended[3]
  • Canadian Library Association Book of the Year For Children (2003) - short-listed[3]
  • Chocolate Lily Book Award (BC Children's Choice) (2004) - short-listed[3]
  • Hackmatack Children's Choice Award (Atlantic Canada) (2004) - short-listed[4]
  • Canadian Railroad Historical Association (Pacific Coast Division) Plaque (2004) - winner[3]


"Thanks to Barbara Hehner for her careful checking of the manuscript, and to Robert Turner, author of West of the Great Divide, for sharing both his historical expertise and his own fascination with trains."
"An enormous thank you to: Bruce Mason and Susan Baerg of the Yale and District Historical Society; P.C. Townsend, who allowed the Yale reminiscences of his relative, Elizabeth Tatlow, to be forwarded to me; Stephen Lyons of Canadian Pacific Archives; the staff at British Columbia Provincial Archives; Lorne Hammond, Curator in the History at the Royal B.C. Museum; Shirley Cuthbertson, Curator in History (Retired) at the Royal B.C. Museum; and my husband, Patrick, whose encouragement kept me on track right through to the figurative "last spike."
Other sources that proved invaluable:
Henry and Self and By Snowshoe, Buckboard and Steamer, books by Kathryn Bridge that include the accounts of young women living or travelling the Fraser Canyon area in the 1880s; Onderdonk's Way, a website that focusses on the building of the CPR in the Fraser Canyon; Michael Hagan's newspaper, The Inland Sentinel, for information on the progress of the railway, day-to-day events and weather reports for the period covered in Kate's diary."


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail from John Everett Millais' 1877 painting Bright Eyes. The background is a detail of The Transcontinentals Meet at Rogers Pass by Wentworth D. Folks.[5][6]


See also[]

Dear Canada

Orphan at My Door | A Prairie as Wide as the Sea | With Nothing But Our Courage | Footsteps in the Snow
A Ribbon of Shining Steel | Whispers of War | Alone in an Untamed Land | Brothers Far from Home | An Ocean Apart
A Trail of Broken Dreams | Banished from Our Home | Winter of Peril | Turned Away | The Death of My Country
No Safe Harbour | A Rebel's Daughter | A Season for Miracles | If I Die Before I Wake | Not a Nickel to Spare
Prisoners in the Promised Land | Days of Toil and Tears | Where the River Takes Me | Blood Upon Our Land
A Desperate Road to Freedom | A Christmas to Remember | Exiles from the War | To Stand On My Own
Hoping for Home | That Fatal Night | Torn Apart | A Sea of Sorrows | Pieces of the Past | A Country of Our Own
All Fall Down | Flame and Ashes | A Time for Giving | These Are My Words

External links[]