History

On This Day: 365 Tales of History, Mystery, and More by Dale Jarvis

In On This Day: 365 Tales of History, Mystery, and More, author Dale Jarvis offers a veritable buffet of factoids and history pertinent to Newfoundland and Labrador. Self-described as “weird little pieces of half-forgotten history and folklore from all over Newfoundland and Labrador, one for every day of the year,” (p. 2) the book is structured by calendar date, starting January 1 and running through to December 31.…

Heard Amid the Guns by Jacqueline Larson Carmichael

Grandpa Tom, my paternal grandfather (a couple of marriages in) served in the First World War, one of the thousands of underage Canadian kids who lied about their birthdates and enlisted, getting themselves a buzzcut, rifle, and what was, for most, a one-way ticket to the world’s worst Grand Tour. Like every soldier they felt, in part, they were doing their duty—for queen and country in this case, and to keep perceived evil at bay.…

Daring, Devious, and Deadly: True Tale of Crime and Justice from Nova Scotia’s Past by Dean Jobb

Historical non-fiction can sometimes present itself as a stained parchment paper timeline of facts, the kind that is best saved for a game of trivia or a college term paper. Other times, it can deliver as a timely, fascinating excursion. In this case, Daring, Devious, and Deadly is definitely the latter as an easy, must-read work. Author Dean Jobb does an extraordinary job of winding several notorious, landmark cases in Nova Scotian history into a book that should be on every Canadian History bookstore shelf.…

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.…

A Song From Faraway by Deni Ellis Béchard

A “Story-Producing Story”

In James Wood’s essay “Serious Noticing” he makes this keen observation about fictional stories: “…one definition of a story might be that it always produces more of them. A story is story-producing. […] No single story can ever explain itself: this enigma at the heart of story is itself a story. Stories produce offspring, genetic splinters of themselves, hapless embodiments of their original inability to tell the whole tale.…

Around the World in a Dugout Canoe by John M. MacFarlane and Lynn J. Salmon

The first independent account of the remarkable voyage of the Tilikum. Anticipating fame and wealth, Captain John Voss set out from Victoria, BC, in 1901, seeking to claim the world record for the smallest vessel ever to circumnavigate the globe. For the journey, he procured an authentic dugout cedar canoe from an Indigenous village on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Two Crows Sorrow: Love and Death on the North Mountain by Laura Churchill Duke

find true crime books fascinating, particularly historical crime, which is probably why I like Debra Komar’s books so much. But what if there is a paucity of details regarding an actual crime? How does an author bring this event to life, so to speak? The author then cleverly builds a story and dialogue around the actual characters, while maintaining the integrity of the actual occurrence.…

Fear of Drowning by Susan White

I have previously reviewed two of Ms. White’s books, The Memory Chair (2015) and Waiting for Still Water (2016) both of which I enjoyed very much. While some of her titles may be considered “Young Adult” she recently informed me that: “in my mind, the YA/adult distinction is more about marketing than readership.” That may be true, for Ms. White’s stories (at least the ones I have read) have an age-less readability about them.…

Circle Around Monadnock: Time Travel With Horses by Francelia M. Clark

Mount Monadnock is a mountain in the state of New Hampshire, known for being featured in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. At 3,165 feet (965 m), Mount Monadnock is the most frequently climbed mountain in North America and the second most frequently climbed mountain in the world after Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Monadnock resides in the tradional lands of the Abenaki.…

The Homing Place: Indigenous and Settler Literary Legacies of the Atlantic by Rachel Bryant

How does one describe such a well-researched and well-written book as Rachel Bryant’s The Homing Place: Indigenous and Settler Literary Legacies of the Atlantic (2017, WLU Press)? I find I must borrow words and phrases from a more scholarly source:

“This book shines new light on settler colonialism and Indigenous resurgence, historic and contemporary, through sharp analyses of some influential but lesser-discussed writers.”

Hope Restored by Robert A. Moran

Bibliophiles like myself are always on the lookout for new books, and as I live far from any bricks and mortar bookstore, I find books by local authors almost anywhere: a drugstore, a coffee shop, even a family restaurant. That’s where I found Robert A. Moran’s Hope Restored: the Ship Prince Victor, its Iconic Figurehead and the Maritime Heritage of St.

How Maine Changed the World by Nancy Griffin

state of Maine, on the extreme northeastern tip of the United States, ranks quite low in population density (41st amongst the other states) and with only a little over 1.3 million residents, it seems improbable that it could have (or does) contribute much to the world outside of it’s 36,000 square miles. (Source: http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/maine-population/)

Perhaps that is why a book such as How Maine Changed the World: A History in 50 People, Places, and Objects (2017, Down East Books) will come as a surprise to those who read it, even “Mainers”.…

New Brunswick at the Crossroads, Tony Tremblay, Editor.

Subtitled “Literary Ferment and Social Change in the East,” New Brunswick at the Crossroads is an attempt to explore the relationship between literature and the society in which it incubates as it pertains to the distinct character of New Brunswick with its bicultural character.

This authoritative reference work examines the literary landscape of New Brunswick and its two dominant peoples, Acadian and English, with the bulk of literature coming out of Fredericton (primarily due to the influence of the University of New Brunswick) and Moncton with it’s Acadian population (and the Université de Moncton).…

The Last Beothuk by Gary Collins

to The Last Beothuk (2017, Flanker Press), Mr Collins’ last book was Desperation: The Queen of Swansea (2016, Flanker Press), which won a “The Very Best!” Book Award in the Historical Fiction category for that year. At the time, I posited that Mr Collins was at the top of his storytelling game. One could only guess what his next subject might be!…