I discovered The Mill Town Councilor quite by accident: I was picking up a copy of Robert McKay’s The Back Road and Beyond when I noticed this large (480 page) book with a photo of one of Miramichi’s mills on the front. Of course, I just had to get a copy, and am I ever happy I did! This is one rollicking story that everyone will enjoy. In the first few pages, the protagonist, Clem Powers, has just ‘accidentally’ caused the death of his longtime mill workmate and friend Jack McNeil. However, shortly before his demise, Jack had entrusted Clem with the fact that he has terminal cancer. Clem, smart guy and friend that he is, tells Jack to go out and buy the most expensive pickup he can get, and get health insurance so that at his death it will be paid off. While he is at it, he may as well change his life insurance beneficiary from his ex-wife to Clem, his best friend. After doing this, and before Jack can tell management the results of his tests, Clem knocks some rolls of paper over, crushing Jack.
“Poor devil, if it wasn’t for bad luck he didn’t have any at all, he [Clem] thought as he went to press the emergency alarm.”
So ends Chapter One! From there, the story just steamrolls along with Clem going from lie to lie to cover himself, but in the doing so, he manages to make some close friends, such as Rosie the pretty (and younger; Clem is in his 50’s) barmaid at the “Pink Panther” tavern. Of course, Clem has to deal with his suspicious wife (suspicious of both the accident and of Rosie) which he soon manages to do so (without killing her).
Soon though, Clem starts on the road to doing good with the money from Jack’s insurance settlement. His dream was to build a lodge up in the mountains near the Miramichi, and en route to doing this, manages to get mill ownership on his side so they are the ones to build it. Clem also dabbles in mineral speculation and following a hot tip, invests almost everything in penny stock in a mining operation near Bathurst.
I don’t want to reveal any more of the story, but this one is definitely worth a read, just for the fun of reading and getting some laughs from Clem and his buddies.
I purchased my copy of The Mill Town Councilor at Brookdale Flower Shop on King George Highway in Newcastle. Paul McAllister has also written two other books, The Apple Man’s Stories Vol. I and II. The author lives on his farm in Bryenton. His apple orchard slopes southerly to the main Southwest Miramichi River. It is commonly known as McAllister Farm and a favorite spot for families in apple season. You can also order all three of his books from Amazon.ca.
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.