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October 3, 2008

Great New Area History Books Now Available


The fall has generated some history book launches and some excellent reading.  I will look at 3 of these books beginning with 

The Beat Light- North Bay Police 1882-2007 

Retired North Bay Police Staff Sergeant Vic McLenaghan has had a passion for police history since 1958 and wanted a book on the subject for the 125th anniversary of the service.  Vic was able to get the well known author Wayne Lebelle who has wtitten  10 books, including his current project-a history of Iroquois Falls-– Wayne LeBelle .Wayne took on the task adapting  Vics  material and adding  whatever else he thought  was necessary for the book. 

Cover of Beat Light book

The book called The Beat Light which includes policing in Widdifield, West Ferris, and Callander is available now.  The book reflects Wayne LeBelle’s inimitable style with over 400  photographs and many well researched pages of history.  It includes a lot of general North Bay history and reference to some of the major criminal events from the past. 

The roles of organizations associated with police services are provided giving  a kind of mini course in policing.  The role of the OPP, VICARS (Victims Crisis Assistance and Referral Service), Crime Stoppers, the Police Services Boards and Commisions etc. are explained.  Nestor Pricco, retired Sherrif, explains the Court system, the sherrif’s role, and is one of several contributors.  The book includes a list of the 483 men and women on the force over the years. 

Ted and Sharon Thompson provided generous financial support for the book.  Proceeds from the sale go to the Ontario Law Enforcement Relay for Special Olympics and the North Bay Special Olympics.  You can get  an application form online and order online and have your book delivered or you can drop in to Headquarters at 135 Princess Street and purchase a copy over the counter (credit cards are accepted.)  Their email is northbaypolice@northbaypolice.ca and their website is www.northbaypolice.on.ca where there is a brief description of the book and a place where you can click for a copy of the book order form which you can email or mail.  Books can be purchased C.O.D. 

Police Stories – Tales from a Small Town Cop 

Retired North Bay Police Chief George Berrigan who was a police officer for 32 years turned to writing about the subject he knows best.  He has put 39 police stories in his new book which was launched last Saturday.  Copies are available at Gullivers’ and Coles .  Berrigan reviewed case files and interviewed families and witnesses to authenticate his stories.  He resisted the temptation to fictionalize or sensationalize the stories.  He is very frank and on occasion does not pull his punches relative to the bureaucracy.  Some of the stories have a comic twist. 

The book honours the police, like the book above, by telling the stories of hard working officers often working persistently against the odds to keep the area safe.  Pick up a copy of the book at a bookstore or at your public library and learn about the police history of the area and enjoy some good true crime writing. 

Somewhere in France – Love Letters from the Trenches 

Kevin Reeves grew up in North Bay where his father Walton lives today and where his grandparents Laura (1900-1994) and Dave Reeves (1894-1975) lived their lives.  Kevin is  a voice teacher, a directior of many choirs, a composer, an author and a caricaturist who drew for the Toronto Star at one time.  I know him as a documentary film maker and have have  his excellent one hour award winning documentary The Spirit of Grey Owl. 

Cover of Kevin Reeves book on his grandparents.


Kevin has produced a beautifully researched and visually powerful book on the absorbing love story and life of his grandfather Dave and grandmother Laura.  The book is based primarily on the coincidental picking up of a note from a WWI soldier on a train taking soldiers to war in 1916 and passing through North Bay.  The note was picked up by Lizzie Dreany from one of North Bay’s oldest families.  She gave the note to her young daughter Laura who wrote the soldier in France.  Her letters are lost but the soldier’s (David Reeves) letters were saved. 

Dave went through the hell of WWI, was wounded and  returned to Saskatchewan for rehabilitation.  The beautiful Laura had many suitors but had a special connection with Dave and they eventually married and lived out their lives in North Bay.  They had a son Walford whose son Kevin wrote the book. 

The touching story is documented with many copies of the letters and other documents including photographs of all aspects of their early and later lives.  The book is a remarkably creative scrap booking type book that provides great insight into the personal lives of the couple along with insight into  the various locations in the story including some vivid North Bay photographs. 

Dave & Laura Reeves were part of a group of 6,000 Canadians who went in 1936 on 5 cruise ships to the opening of the Vimy Memorial.  I have written a couple of articles about Vimy including the 22 million dollar restoration in 2007 when several publications and documentaries were produced.  The Reeves book has a full section on the remarkable building of the memorial and its opening.  (see my website below and click on April 5 and April 20,2007 for a copy.) 

I should also mention that Laura’s  grandfather Alexander Dreany is referenced in WKP Kennedy’s book North Bay as an early North Bay Pioneer.  Kennedy notes that Alexander chopped the first tree on the CPR right-of-way on June 28, 1881 (127 years ago) at his farm at Thorncliffe, four miles east of North Bay, as the CPR entered North Bay. 

This limited edition book is available at Gullivers’.  There will be a book launch at the Legion ,150 First Avenue West from 7:30 to 9 tonight when Kevin Reeves will be signing his book. 

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