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April 1, 2005

History books worth a look

This is one of my occasional columns recommending new history related books that may be of interest to readers for personal use or as a gift to someone special.  Using the books also supports the hardworking authors who produce the books.  These books are available in bookstores like Gulliverís on Main Street, North Bay, or can be ordered.  Many are or will be available in your local library or they may purchase them if encouraged to do so.  The books range from gloss hardcover coffee table books to personal explorations by authors who have a story to tell. 

Canada An Illustrated History 2004 and Canadian Obsessions 2005 are coffee table books by Douglas & McIntyre (www.douglas-mcintyre.com) that would make great gifts for yourself or someone else.  Both are beautifully illustrated.  The first book covers the whole of Canadian history while the Obsession book is restricted to the last 100 years as recorded in the archives of Macleanís magazine. 

Canada House Ė Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home, Alfred A. Knopf Canada 2004.  Three outstanding writers got together with Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul to prepare the book.  The book tells about the development of the house, the gardens and the food served at Rideau Hall.  Each of these 3 areas is written by an outstanding specialist and provides an entertaining and informative read. 

Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness, John S. Ryder, Harvard University Press 2005.  This book deals with Einsteinís life and theories and is the ideal book for someone wanting to learn more about his work.  There is a chapter on each of the 5 remarkable 1905 papers I mentioned in my article last week.  The book was reviewed in the Books section of the Globe & Mail on January 14, 2005.  The review can be seen at Nipissing University or North Bay Library on request.  The same book section has a book review of the new beautifully illustrated book The Big Bang by Simon Singh for cosmology buffs. 

Doris McCarthy by Doris McCarthy 2004 published by Second Story Press is the latest book by this outstanding 94 year old Canadian painter.  This book is centered on her beloved Georgian Bay cottage, her friends, and her painting.  With many photos and colour prints of her work is a great book for anyone interested in Canadian art and a life well lived. 

Winter on Diamond by Soren Bondrup-Nielsen is the story of the authorís experience in the wilds of Temagami and in particular a winter in the woods in a cabin on Diamond Lake with his friend and well-known author, artist and wilderness expert Hap Wilson.  Published by Res Telluris Press (www.restelluris.ca).  The back of the book quotes the pair saying ďThoreau was our heroĒ much like my enthusiasm for Thoreau in a recent article in Community Voices. 

Overalls & Scrubs by Bill Partlow published by Aylmer Express.  Bill Partlow worked for the CPR in the town of Chapleau in the 1940s but the work disappeared when WWII veterans returned.  Bill became a dentist and practiced until 2002 when he retired and wrote the book about his life and times.  It is an in depth and personal look at some fascinating history covering 437 pages and includes 200 photos.  Bill recently had a book signing at Gulliverís where the book is currently available. 

Harvest of a Quiet Eye by Lawrence Scanlan Viking Canada 2004 is a new book by the author of Heading Home Ė On Starting a New Life in a Country Place which I read years ago.  The new book tells the story of the Scanlanís adventure north of Kingston in purchasing an old log cabin and restoring it.  It relates to my recent article on Henry Thoreau and many other similar explorations like Soren Bondrup-Nielsenís mentioned above.  Scanlan talks about every aspect of his restoration project including his water system and recommends East Ferris author Max Burnsí book Cottage Water Systems. 

English Bloods in the Backwoods of Muskoka 2004. Anyone with an interest in early settlement in Northern Ontario will enjoy this fascinating book by Scott D. Shipman who lives in Huntsville.  The English Bloods were young englishmen from families with some financial resources who came to Canada to work for a farmer to learn how to be a farmer so they could branch out on their own later. 

The book was written by Frederick de la Fosse who used a false name to protect the many real people in the book.  Shipman spent 8 years discovering who the real author was and who the other people were.  His historical research makes the book doubly fascinating because both the 1878 story (published in 1930) and his documentation are fascinating. 

The book is published by the excellent Natural Heritage Books Co which publishes numerous books on various historical topics.  Call for a catalogue.  (1-800-725-9982).  Astrid Taimís Almaguin A Highland History (and her pending new book) and Louise de Kirline Laurenceís books are available there. 

These are only a few of the many books with a heritage perspective.  If anyone wants to recommend a book they have read, contact me at the address below.

Heritage Perspective Home Page

Past Forward Heritage Limited: 

330 Sumach St. #41, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3K7   Tel. (416)-925-8412


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