writer, researcher, editor, lecturer


R.B. (Rae) Fleming


(Vancouver: UBC Press), 1991. ISBN 0-7748-0382-7. 301 Pages. Cloth $39.95; Paper $29.95.

The Railway King of CanadaThis is the first and only biography of a man who, during his lifetime, was as well known as business moguls like Conrad Black, Paul Reichman and Paul Desmarais today. At one time, during the boom days preceding the Great War of 1914-1918, when Canada was young and optimistic, William Mackenzie was part of almost every major business, from a transcontinental railway to electric street railways in Canada and abroad. He sat on the board of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and he sponsored one of the world’s first full-length film documentaries. By 1914 he had become a name well known from Vancouver to Berlin to Brazil.

However, by the time of his death in 1923, he had lost control of his once vast empire, and in the intervening years, he has been forgotten. Fleming, who grew up in the same area of Ontario as Mackenzie, converted tales of the man into a readable and much admired biography. The book’s first printing sold out in less than a month.

You will not want to miss the life of this remarkable and daring Canadian.


Sir William Mackenzie“A splendid accomplishment.” (Timothy Findley, novelist, playwright, 1930-2002).

“A well-written and absorbing tale.” (Mark Rosenfeld, Ontario History, 1993).

“A scholarly and sympathetic picture of the life of this influential and important Canadian.” (Bruce Smith, Western Historical Quarterly, University of Western Michigan).

“Extensively documented,... soundly argued, ... well written, it places Mackenzie's incredibly complex investment portfolio into one digestible package.” (A A Den Otter, Canadian Historical Review, 1994).

“A thoroughly readable book, written with verve and style.” (Ronald Rees, cultural geographer, St Andrews, NB).

“An impressive biography.” (Ontario Historical Society, Willowdale ON).

“An intimate portrait of Mackenzie, both as man and business legend.” (Verne Clemence, Star-Phoenix, Saskatoon SK, Oct 1992).

“The definitive biography of Sir William.” (Colin Read, Huron College, University of Western Ontario, London ON).

“One of the most sympathetic portraits of a traditional rural community...well researched... a good read.” (Ken Cruikshank, Dalhousie Review, Halifax NS).

“This excellent tour de force... is more than a good read. It is argument, debate, analysis, storytelling and fact mixed into a smooth-tasting cocktail with a powerful kick.” (N.M. Joshi, British Journal of Canadian Studies, London England).

“Fleming is a first-class biographer. (Elwood Jones, Trent University, Peterborough ON).

“A fascinating glimpse into Who’s Who in Canadian history..., stories that depict the land of men and women whose dreams were the dreams of giants.” (G. Edward Stubbs, BC Genealogist, Vancouver BC).

"Mackenzie left virtually no private papers, a paucity that is admirably compensated for in R.B. Fleming, The Railway King of Canada." (T.D. Regehr Dictionary of Canadian Biography, volume XV)

Winner of Ontario Historical Society’s Fred Landon Award (1992).

SELLING PRICE: Cloth $39.95; Paper: $29.95 (plus shipping where applicable)

HOW TO OBTAIN THIS BOOK: Chapters/Indigo stores and webpage; Kent Bookstore, Lindsay ON; or directly from the author at rb.fleming@bell.net or 705-439-2337 or 1606 Rd 46, Woodville ON, K0M 2T0 CANADA

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