A RARE TORONTO SHOW, NEXT TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10

As my faithful followers know, Jane and I travel all over Canada, and beyond, giving my stage shows about authors. But these are , for many of you, glimpses of distant pleasures.

Not this time.

If you live within striking distance of Toronto I have very good news for you. ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, AT THE TORONTO REFERENCE  LIBRARY, AT YONGE JUST NORTH OF BLOOR, I’ll be giving my ACROSS CANADA BY STORY show, from 6.30 to 8.00

It will be in  the BEETON ROOM, at the back of  the Main Floor. There will be a Q. and A. session at the end,  with the usual range of challenging questions. My books will be available for  sale, and legible signatures will be offered.

And attendance is absolutely FREE. Come along, and bring your book-loving friends. Marching bands are optional.

 

This marks the start of a busy fall touring season. The very next morning I’ll be at The Faculty Club, presenting GREAT SCOTS to Senior College and its very bright people, including my authors Max and Monique Nemni.

Then, on SATURDAY 14 I’ll be just outside Montreal, presenting GREAT SCOTS at the POINTE CLAIRE LIBRARY, 100 Douglas-Shand Avenue at 11.45. It’s part of a major Scottish event, which sounds like great fun.

Later, we’ll be in PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, on WEDNESDAY 17, at the WELLINGTON LIBRARY, giving GREAT SCOTS at 6pm. This is a fund-raiser for the Library, where I’m very glad to lend a hand.

Finally, to round out a busy month, we’ll give GREAT SCOTS in Toronto at a free show in Hazelton Place, where I remember visiting my old friends Avie Bennett, Reed Scowen, and Eric Koch. Reed is still with us, but Jane and I miss Eric, who claimed that it was his invitation to me to speak at a Couchiching Conference that led to me meeting Jane , and vice versa, in 2001. Eric would take full credit for everything that ensued by claiming, loudly, “You owe it all to me!”

 

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REPLACING AMHERST

In ACROSS CANADA BY STORY, I talk frankly about an18th-century man named Amherst.

I note that Amherst Island, near Kingston, “is named after the British military officer Sir Jeffery Amherst, who played a distinguished role in the capture of Quebec in 1760. Sadly, he was also a genocidal thug. In the long history of broken promises that marked the dealings between white invaders in Canada and the Native people they replaced, nothing was so terrible as the germ warfare that Amherst proposed to introduce around Fort Detroit in 1763 by giving local Indians a gift of smallpox-infected blankets, hoping, in his own words, to “extirpate” them.”

After he left Canada in 1763 to return to England, his military successes overshadowed his genocidal experiments. Unfortunately his devalued name now marks three fine communities. Amherst, near the New Brunswick border, is cheerfully described as “a gateway to Nova Scotia”, and any traveller in the Maritimes will agree that all roads seem to lead to it. Amherstburg, on the Detroit River near Lake Erie, is a small Ontario town originally laid out by Loyalists. And Amherst Island is a fine, thriving Island set in Lake Ontario just west of Kingston.

In Montreal, however, it was decided to remove the man’s name from the city. Montreal, of course, has a mixed record when it comes to changing street names. Some time ago the city embarrassed itself by re-naming the old “Mountain Street” as “La Rue de la Montagne”. This would have been fine if “Mountain Street” had been named after the prominent geographical feature that dominates the landscape there. In fact it was named in honour of the Englishman Jacob Mountain, who in 1793 was appointed Anglican bishop of the new diocese of Quebec.

Dommage.

In this case, however, Montreal got it right. The name “Amherst” no longer appears on the city’s street map. It has been replaced by the Mohawk word  “Atateken”. Choosing a Mohawk replacement is very clever. What makes it ideal is that the word means “Brotherhood”.

So well done, Montreal,  welcome “Rue Atateken”, and congratulations to Mayor Valerie Plante for realising that this was an important ceremony to attend.

Now we turn our attention to Halifax. When I was at the Writers’ Union AGM there, I strolled east to see what had happened at the park just outside the Westin Hotel Nova Scotian. That little park used to be dominated by a statue of Amherst. Amid much controversy the city had decided to remove it.

I went along to see what had replaced it.

The answer is…. nothing. We now have a park with a central place for a statue……and absolutely nothing there, and nothing to explain why there is this empty space. Maybe the people in Halifax should be talking to their friends in Montreal.

MY NEW AUDIBLE BOOK

Great news!
The fine folks at ECW have just launched a new edition of ACROSS CANADA BY STORY.
It’s an Audible version of the entire book, narrated by me!
When I have more time I’ll tell you what every actor already knows, that reading aloud for an audience, emphasizing THIS word, but pausing softly over that one, is demanding, exhausting work, sentence after sentence, page after page. But when the author is the one doing the reading. you can rest assured that the proper, intended emphasis is coming out. Very interesting, and sometimes surprising.
In this case the reading runs for 16 hours and 29 minutes, so the digital recording’s price of $34.99 is reasonable.
You can order the audible book — for yourself, or family, or friends who’d enjoy it — by contacting this site: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/across-canada-by-story-2 .
I hope that you (and maybe your carload on long journeys) will enjoy it. Good listening!