Like any child with the measles two-year-old Christopher Awdry found staying inside the house and not being allowed to play with his friends pretty boring.
So, as the story goes, his father the Rev. Wilbert Awdry invented an imaginary land with talking trains to entertain his son as he recovered from the illness.
That was 62 years ago.
Today Thomas the Tank Engine books, toys, videos, story tapes and paraphernalia are enjoyed by millions of kids all over the world, generation after generation.
Thomas and his friends have become a family passion with Christopher Awdry who followed in his fathers footsteps and wrote many more stories for his son Richard.
In a rare Canadian appearance Awdry will visit the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish for a book reading and discussion on Saturday, May 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
His visit is in anticipation of a Day Out With Thomas, which will bring the really useful engine to the Sea to Sky corridor for train rides starting June 11.