Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front by Heather McBriarty

Heather McBriarty’s novel, Somewhere in Flanders: Letters from the Front, is a remarkable true telling of what is what like in the trenches during the First World War. It is also a poignant love story.

From letters received by her grandmother, McBriarty shares the budding of a romance between Isobel (her grandmother) and a young man from Nova Scotia, James Johnstone.…

The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by Jean Teillet

Some books are there to offer the kinds of stories that can light on our paths and help us figure out a way forward. The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by historian Jean Teillet has been that kind of book to me.

I’ve been writing about the life of my great-grandfather Léon Robert Goulet, a Métis fiddler who was born in Lorette, Manitoba, in the middle of Métis homeland that Teillet documents.…

Wounded Hearts: Memories of the Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home by Lois Legge

Spending two weeks in the “isolation room.” Standing inside a closet as punishment. Being tied into bed at night. These are some of the memories shared by former residents of the Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home in award-winning journalist Lois Legge’s Wounded Hearts: Memories of the Halifax Protestant Orphans’ Home.

In addition to inserting snippets of sociological context, Legge provides the reader with basic facts about the Home and its inception.…

Neither King Nor Country by Alan Kay (From The Picton Gazette)

[The following article appeared in The Picton Gazette on July 15, 2019. I am reproducing the full article as a favour to the author. While I haven’t read the book myself, it does come with some great recommendations, which are posted after the article ends. ~James]

Loyalist connection leads American author to Prince Edward County

A highly decorated high school history teacher from the United States paid a visit to the heart of Loyalist country earlier this month.…

Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson By Mark Bourrie

Bourrie has written a classic Canadian historical biography. The best-selling author, and award-winning journalist, lays bare the mottled myths of colonial settlement. He weaves a compelling, sometimes lurid, but always enlightening narrative of the legendary adventurer, scoundrel, Pierre-Esprit Radisson. Bush Runner chronicles Radisson’s adventures from exploiting the expanding fur trade to finagling European imperial military ambitions to his own advantage in the 17th century Americas.…

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

1896 to 1948, over 100,000 children were shipped from Britain to Canada under the “British Home Child” program. It is a little-known part of Canadian history, and one not to be especially proud of. Bestselling author Genevieve Graham (Tides of Honour, At the Mountain’s Edge) has crafted a fine example of how historical fiction can be both entertaining and informative*.…

Two Novels of Le Grand Dérangement

The Great Deportation or Le Grand Dérangement, of the Acadian peoples, began in 1755 in the area now called the Bay of Fundy. Homes and farms were burned, and many of the 14,000 inhabitants of Acadia were herded aboard British ships and sent off to the Thirteen Colonies. The following two novels, both suitable for mature young readers on up, focus on this time of upheaval and the separation of families.…

The Peddlers: The Fuller Brush Man, the Lords of Liniment and Door to Door Heroes in Nova Scotia and Beyond by Blain Henshaw

growing up in Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s, I can vaguely recall door-to-door salesmen (and saleswomen) visiting our home. I know we had Fuller Brush products in the house, but I don’t really recall the salesperson. Perhaps he came when I was in school. There was a juice salesman I do recall (but not the company) for he was quite likely the first person of colour I had met in our Loyalist settler town where such things were a rarity.…

Margaret Atwood, Campobello Island and the Passamoquoddy by Rachel Bryant

(The following article, under the title “More cultural storytelling in Peskotomuhkatik” was penned by Rachel Bryant, author of The Homing Place: Indigenous and Settler Literary Legacies of the Atlantic. It was originally published on her website on September 21st, 2019 and is reproduced here with her kind permission.)

morning brought a new piece by one of my favourite local authors, Julia Wright — one about Margaret Atwood’s new novel, The Testaments, which apparently concludes with a scene on Campobello Island, a Canadian island that is connected by bridge to the state of Maine at the entrance of the Passamaquoddy Bay.…

Casey: The Remarkable, Untold Story of Frederick Walker “Casey” Baldwin by John G. Langley

the book’s subtitle goes on to state, Casey Baldwin was a “Gentleman, Genius, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Protege.” Mr. Langley’s book is a beautiful tribute to yet another unsung Canadian icon: the first British subject (and the first Canadian) to fly in a heavier-than-air craft. Did you know that February 23rd is Canada’s Official National Aviation Day? This is a little-known fact as well, but it has much to do with one man: “Casey” Baldwin.…

Gift Books Aplenty!

have accumulated a few gift books recently, and I am often at a loss as to review them. Typically, they are books that fall under the “Art” category, and as such, are mainly pictures with some brief accompanying text. Not a lot to review, and anyway, they are always beautiful to look at and display. So I thought I would combine them all into one post and you can explore them for yourself.…

“Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers”| Canadian Internment Camp B, 1940-1945 by Andrew Theobald

I only knew of the WWII internment camp near Ripples, New Brunswick when I read the book Prisoner of Warren by Andreas Oertel back in 2016. Even then, I didn’t know Canada had so many camps for captured enemy personnel, or as in the case of Camp B near Ripples, enemy sympathizers, many of whom should not have even been held there in the first place.…

The Court of Better Fiction: Three Trials, Two Executions, and Arctic Sovereignty by Debra Komar

What better place to write and research a historic event that took place in Canada’s far north than while living in Canada’s north? Debra Komar was writer-in-residence at Berton House in Dawson City for one year and considered her time there one of the “greatest experiences” of her life.

The result is a concise, scathing, and at the same time, sympathetic account of a travesty of justice committed against the Indigenous peoples living above the Arctic Circle. …

The Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster: Public Betrayal, Justice Denied by Bruce Campbell

­It has been a little over five years since the July 2013 rail disaster that thrust the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic into national headline news. A runaway train descended on the town, derailing at a curve in the track, spilling its highly combustible payload in the centre of the town, igniting the worst disaster on Canadian soil since the Halifax Explosion in 1917.…