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March 28, 2008

History in Perspective - Books and Exhibitions

Author Astrid Taim lives in Burk's Falls, the heart of the Almaguin District and recently published her excellent second book on the area called Almaguin Chronicles, Memories of the Past.  The Almaguin Highlands is that 90km corridor from Callander to Huntsville, west to Dunchurch and east to Algonquin Park.  It has a remarkable heritage that needed to be better told and Taim has done it with style and detail.  She taps into out of print local history and discovers new sources and stories on paper and from people in the know. 

Astrid's first book Almaguin: A Highland History was published in 1998 and sold well.  It features 31 chapters each with a unique story from the area.  Many came from the archives of the Almaguin New where she worked for years. 

Cover of Almaguin Chronicles by Astrid Taim 2008

Besides many unique photographs one of the things I liked about the first book and which is found in the second is her stories of current or recent personalities.  One I enjoyed on looking again at the first book recently was a story about Doug Mackey: A Champion of Rural Life.  The new book records the important contribution of Richard Thomas, politician, author, and activist who lived outside Burk's Falls and died after a car accident in 2005.  Some samples of his writings are preserved in the book. 

Among other characters profiled in the book is Clarence Brazier who will be 102 years old this summer and didn't learn to read until into his 90s.  Canada Post awarded him the 2006 National Literary Prize at age 100 and turned him into a poster boy for literacy.  The touching story of his life is typical of the old river driver who survived on what was available. 

The main thrust of the book is the early life of the area - the rivers, their boats, the Grand Trunk Railway, their impact, the logging and lumbering industry, and the people involved.  The personalities and communities involved in these activities bring the story to life and gives an excellent overview of Almaguin's Past. 

I was especially pleased to see the recognition of the work of Everett Kirton whose Logging Days in Parry Sound, now long out of print, is an invaluable record of logging in the early days that I have used as a reference on numerous occasions. 

The new book, published by Natural Heritage Books and distributed by Dundurn Press, is available at Gullivers Books, North Bay and online, sells for $25.00, is 190 pages long and has an excellent index, appendices and numerous photographs.  It belongs in the homes of Almaguin and elsewhere where northern Ontario History is appreciated. 

Astrid will be giving a talk and signing books at the Powassan Library courtesy of Friends of the Library on Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 6:30pm.  Refreshments will be served. 

The Legacy of John Waldie & Sons: A History of the Victoria Harbour Lumber company. 

In her look at the lumber business west of highway 11 Astrid Taim mentions the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company.  A new book on the company and its remarkable founder is now available.  Waldie was a merchant, ship owner and politician who had a major impact in Ontario before his death in 1907 and had "the second largest lumber operation in Ontario". 

Cover of The Legacy of John Waldie & Sons, Kenneth A. Armson and Marjorie McLeod 2007.

The book is available, like the Almaguin book, from Dundurn Press which distributes Natural Heritage books, or your local book store. 

Bridges to Home 

The Bridges to Home Exhibit at Discovery North Bay.  D. Mackey Photo.

As mentioned last week a fine exhibition "Bridges to Home" a cultural exhibit on immigrant women in Canada is currently on display at the Discovery North Bay Museum, Tuesday - Saturdays.  http://www.nipissingyou.ca/bridges

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