Being the Second part of my Southern Ontario Book Safari

Literary Tourist in Southern Ontario, Canada

I arrived at Rod and Joanne’s place in Welland, Ontario just in time for supper (there’s a name for people who do this: smellfeasts); and a delicious one it was at that.

Rod (Morris) and I worked together very successfully throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s in the feature news distribution and magazine contract publishing business(es). As Sir Stanley Unwin put it in his book, The Truth About Publishing, “Publishing is an unusually difficult occupation. It is at once an art, a craft, and a business, for which a curious and unusual combination of qualifications is desirable.” This holds as true for magazines as it does for books.

Early on I knew that Rod possessed the right qualifications. He is a great magazine publisher, and I’m lucky to call him a friend.

I love Rod as much as anything, for his fluffy french-toast – a substantial helping of which I consumed the next morning. Then it was out the door, into downtown Welland, and over to the home of one of Canada’s most knowledgeable, respected antiquarian book dealers.

I carted in a box of books I’d reserved especially for Steven’s eagle-eye, along with my newly acquired Powell novels, purchased here

Now here’s the thing – because they appear later on in the Dance to the Music of Time series – after it had become popular – my volumes aren’t as scarce as the ones preceding them. Not that they aren’t worth anything; they are: $50 – $75 each. Problem is, Steven and most other dealers, will only give me 20-25% of this amount (in Steve’s case, paid out in cash). In other words, about $15 each – which is roughly what I paid for them in the first place. While there might be a little profit here, it’s hardly worth all the effort.

I resolved to hold on to them – to play custodian for a while – and try my luck elsewhere, perhaps in the States where I’ll benefit from the exchange rate and the fact that they don’t see British editions down there all that often.

With this business out of the way, Steven and I got to rapping about his passion for finding and identifying lost Canadian literature – books that few others know about. It’s a fascinating project. You can learn more about it by listening to our conversation here:

From Steven and Welland I hit Continue reading “Being the Second part of my Southern Ontario Book Safari”

Nothing like the real thing…

I visited Lang Pioneer Village just outside of Peterborough for a glimpse of what life looked like in Ontario at around the time Susanna Moodie and her sister Catharine Parr Traill emigrated from England.

This cabin was the home of David Fife, of Red Fife wheat fame – it represents what a Canadian settler’s dwelling was like circa 1820.

The sisters arrived in the early 1830s. Conditions, particularly during the winter months – on days like today for example – were wicked; with snow blowing in through cracks in the walls and little food to eat, life wasn’t easy. Seeing this cabin really brought home how challenging it must have been just to survive back then. But they made do.

“The flesh of the black squirrel is equal to that of the rabbit, and the red, even the little chipmunk, is palatable when nicely cooked.” (from Roughing it in the Bush).

For information on visiting Peterborough and the Kawarthas, click here.

A Timeless Record of a Quintessentially Canadian Experience

As a result of a trip to Peterborough & the Kawarthas, and exposure to the works of Catharine Parr Traill

and Susanna Moodie

I’ve been reflecting lately on the immigrant experience in Canada.

I was born in Toronto, but moved to England with my British parents when I was five years old. We returned by ship seven years later on the S.S. Maasdam. Although I’d already been here, my memory is of having arrived in Canada as if for the first time. I’ll never forget the experience of coming up on deck early one morning with my father and sighting land – a collection of tiny, sun-lit Canadian islands. Everything seemed bathed in gold.

Moving to a new country is an emotion-charged experience, one that, while different in each case, shares certain common characteristics. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, people who immigrate typically go through the following stages:

Stage 1: Happiness and Continue reading “A Timeless Record of a Quintessentially Canadian Experience”

The most charming thing about Moffat House in Peterborough, Ontario

Yes the breakfasts were great. Yes, it’s on the same street as a house (Marchbanks) that Robertson Davies used to live in, and yes, Davies used to hang out here in the basement ‘theatre’ watching the home movies of Dr. Agnes Moffat, Peterborough’s first female doctor, and her husband Dr. Rusty Magee, the original owners of the place, but the thing that charmed me most about Moffat House in Peterborough, was the lovely flora

that

adorned

the room

in which I stayed.