About Tom W. Parkin Tom W. Parkin

A Brief Bio

I suppose my freelance writing career was born when a lacklustre editor at my hometown paper, the Revelstoke Review, published my first ‘article’. Front page!

I was in Grade 10 and failed to mention the name of the CPR official I had interviewed. I do remember him looking impatiently at his watch. Oh well. I then went off to UBC to learn more.

Years later, my first article with a photo spread appeared in Westworld, the BCAA member magazine. They liked it so much the association made a safety poster out of it. That encouraged me to quit a good government job and take up freelancing.

“Damn fool”, dad said.

My father, Cleland Nevada Parkin, taking a smoke break in 1949 on the siderods of CPR locomotive 582 at Golden, BC. Photo by the late Ernie Ottewell

Thereafter my interests focused on environmental and outdoor recreation topics, including adventure travel and transportation history.

“Well done, son,” said mom.

She liked reading Outdoor Canada, Nature Canada, BC Outdoors, Explore, and BC History. Editors at Canadian Geographic, BC Magazine, Equinox, and Victoria’s Times Colonist agreed, all using my material frequently enough that I could afford gruel and crusts.

As times change, so did publishers. I gained experience writing longer material as coauthor of Islands for Discovery, later republished as Haida Gwaii: The Queen Charlotte Islands.

I collected unique BC words and phrases for a small dictionary, WetCoast Words, and wrote and photographed an educational book for children, Green Giants: Rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

Green Giants won an Award of Merit from the Outdoor Writers of Canada in 1993.

Three other writers have included my work in their own books, including Judith Barker-Sandbrook in her anthology Thinking Through Your Writing Process (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1989).

Much more recently, on history topics, my efforts have been twice awarded by the Canadian Railway Historical Association (CRHA) in Montréal.

But enough of the fluff and puffery. Samples are available, if you want to read any of it, on the publications page.

Here I am, metal detector in hand and hiking along a long-abandoned Lenora Mt. Sicker Railway narrow gauge railway grade near Crofton, BC. I’m hunting for discarded metal treasures; my finds that day included mini spikes, hammers, and wrenches. Photo by Ralph Beaumont

Retired since 2018, today I am most interested in researching and writing on topics of western history. Magazines using my material of late include The Sandhouse, Canadian Rail, CP Tracks, and Branchline. All are in-house publications of western and national historical societies.

Let’s Collaborate

Editors and readers, including fellow writers, are welcome to discuss new ideas with me – get in touch through the contact form.

Awards & Recognition

2022 Exporail Awards
Canadian Railroad Historical Association – Best Article for “Sleuthing on the Trail of Stone, Part 2: Finding a Forgotten Quarry” in CP Tracks magazine
“The ensuing story reads like a mystery novel with clues, dead ends and no murder. He finds answers [using] petrographic sleuthing to historic masonry.”

2020 Exporail Awards
Canadian Railroad Historical Association – Best Article for “Tales Told by Old Rails” in Branchline magazine
“The use of poetical quotes and a casual style inspires a sense of romance into an esoteric subject. Rail fans really enjoyed it.”

Logo for CRHA and Exporail

2018 Exporail Awards
Canadian Railroad Historical Association – Multi-Media Award for “Sons of the CPR
“The video evokes feelings of nostalgia honouring your railroading fathers, and indirectly encourages viewers to explore personal family history. I am personally thrilled to be part of this award presentation to you.”

1993 Outdoor Writers of Canada
Award of Merit for Green Giants: Rainforests of the Pacific Northwest

Front cover of the book Twigg’s Directory of 1001 BC Writers, by Alan Twigg

1992 – Included in Twigg’s Directory of 1001 BC Writers
By Alan Twigg (Also found online)

1991 Outdoor Writers Association of America
First prize for Natural History in the Newspaper category

Front cover of the anthology Thinking Through Your Writing Process, by Judith Barker-Sandbrook

1989 – Included in the anthology Thinking Through Your Writing Process
By Judith Barker-Sandbrook

1987 Outdoor Writers of Canada
Award of Merit in the Newspaper category

1983 Ducks Unlimited Canada
Honourable Mention in Photographic Evidence Wildlife Photography

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Work with Tom

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I offer a storytelling approach to historical writing, and a particular interest in narration and content development for exhibitions, documentaries, and regional histories.

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