Billy Higgins and his family have a good life in Vancouver. His father is a skilled working man-a tool and die cutter-and while they aren't rich they are comfortable, and happy.
But when the Great Depression strikes and Billy's dad loses his job, everything changes. Billy's forced to quit school and look for work to help support his family, and soon finds himself one of thousands of unemployed men-young and old-wandering listlessly through the city's downtown. Billy works odd jobs delivering newspapers and running errands for the unions that are trying to relieve the men's suffering, and soon decides he has to do something to make change.
He joins a movement of men riding the rails to Ottawa to bring their plight to the attention of the government. Along the way Billy learns a lot-about the Depression and about himself-but when the men reach Regina they're taught an especially bitter lesson.
Billy Higgins Rides the Freights is the story of one young man coming of age in the brutal years of Canada's Great Depression.