Haliburton author Janet Trull said her latest book, End of the Line, provides an interesting look at what life was like for early Highlands settlers when the first trains carrying new immigrants arrived in the late 1800s.

After spending the better part of three years working on the 252-page historical fiction piece, Trull is excited to share it with the community. It’s her first novel, following earlier releases Hot Town and Something’s Burning, two collections of short stories, and Once a Storm, a memorial book focused on oxycontin addiction.

“I started writing it during COVID. Originally, this was going to be a collection of short stories as well, focused on Haliburton and the many quirky characters that have called this place home, with a fictitious spin. I knew I wanted to set it historically in the late 1800s, and that was the time when the Victoria rail line came in,” Trull said. “Haliburton was a busy, quickly changing place then.

“I had fun creating characters based on what we know about the history of the Highlands. I was especially interested in the tension between those who established the village in 1865, and those who arrived by the trainload, lured by land grants, in the late 1870s,” she added.

The story is told from the perspective of Ona, a local entrepreneur who operates a booming comfort business for loggers and railway workers. She also runs a nunnery for women and orphans.

With Ona’s grandfather being an early Scottish settler and her grandmother Ojibwe, she has an understanding and knowledge of two cultures that give her a unique perspective on the community’s issues, Trull said.

The story kicks into high gear when a corrupt politician, Alex Smith, is murdered, leading readers on a thrilling ‘whodunit’ adventure.

“He was somebody in a position of power who took advantage of many, many people. So, when he gets murdered, almost everyone in town has a reason to kill him,” Trull said. “It was fun, because even I didn’t know who the actual murderer was until very late in the writing process.”

While some of the issues outlined were prevalent in early day Haliburton, Trull said the bulk of the story is complete fiction and shouldn’t be considered historically accurate. There are some connections people can make, though – a character resembling Haliburton’s first reeve, John Lucas, is included, so too a doctor based on a real-life physician.

End of the Line is available at Master’s Book Store in Haliburton, can be ordered online through Indigo and Amazon, and is downloadable on Kindle. A launch event was held Nov. 18 at Rails End Gallery. Trull was in attendance, alongside Shane Joseph, head of the book’s publisher Blue Denim Press, to discuss the book.

“I feel like I’ve created my own little library now – I don’t have a favourite, but End of the Line was a lot of fun to put together. I hope people enjoy reading as much as I did writing it,” Trull said.

She has already started on her fifth book – more personal, focusing on reallife memories she has growing up with her brother, who has schizophrenia, and the things, both positive and negative, families go through when dealing with a severe mental health issue. There’s no timeline for release.