Cultural Heritage

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Cornelius O'Keefe

The Life, Loves, and Legacy of an Okanagan Pioneer
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The Boy on the Beach

My Family's Story of Love, Loss, and Hope during the Global Refugee Crisis
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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Bay of Hope

Bay of Hope

Five Years in Newfoundland
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

An official with the provincial government’s Department of Municipal Affairs will be in McCallum in late August to hold an information session about possible resettlement. Apparently, a recent unofficial poll in McCallum resulted in 79 percent of eligible residents voting for resettlement.

The St. John’s Telegram, August 2, 2013

I wish the town of McCallum had kept its name Bonne Bay. It was changed to honour the Newfoundland governor shortly after the time of his term. Bonne Bay is a poetic title and fitting tribute to the Southwest Coast’s French history, and semantically correct given that “bonne” means “good.” The only pleasure I get from knowing this outport was named after a British colonizer comes from learning that Sir Henry Edward McCallum didn’t get along with politicians, including Newfoundland premier Robert Bond, the son of a St. John’s merchant. That’s why Henry served such a short time as governor of Newfoundland (1899–1901) before being appointed elsewhere, because of the tension between the two men.

Henry’s fast transfer out of Newfoundland was unfortunate, given that every region Henry governed — except Newfoundland — grew immensely. Henry McCallum was a huge success. It appears that Newfoundland’s failure to grow as much as Henry’s other colonies — Lagos, Natal, Ceylon — is a direct result of government’s long-term mismanagement of the island’s fishery and extended economy, because Newfoundlanders gave birth to a comparable number of children, but with there being no work, Newfoundlanders were forced to assemble their families elsewhere. All of which makes me wonder: If government post–Henry McCallum had been competent, how many people would reside in Newfoundland now? And how many would live in McCallum, a community that, while its population peaked at 284 in the late 1980s, has the same number of residents today — 79 — as it did when Henry was governor?

It’s easy to see why rural Newfoundland is dying. Children grow up and leave for work or school and don’t come back, while the rest of us just get older. You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out what happens next. What I don’t understand is why so many people from elsewhere feel compelled to tell McCallum residents that their hometown is at death’s door. I write for a Newfoundland newspaper — I’m trying to live The Shipping News dream — so, via email, snail mail, social media, and site visits, I meet a lot of people, many of whom insist on telling me that the outports are dying. But, never mind me, nobody is on the receiving end of this unwanted information more than McCallum residents, who habitually hear it from friends, family and others who have moved away. Like the inhabitants hadn’t noticed. I suspect this need for the informer to feel smart at the expense of others is similar to what followers of professional wrestling face when non-fans insist on telling fans that their source of pleasure, “It’s fake, you know?” No kidding? Or, as they say in Newfoundland: “The devil?”

Scroll through Newfoundland newspapers. Whenever an article appears containing content about an isolated outport, a lot of readers post heated comments implying that every outport person deserves to rot in hell for finding themselves in a situation where government has offered them a buyout. It’s unsettling to think that so many of this angry gang are out there, holding on so tightly to their badly informed beliefs. These ignorant individuals, behind anonymous names like “God Bless Britain” and “u don tno,” see themselves as having a keen understanding of Canada’s most complex socioeconomic issues.

The groups that represents these haters — their governments — are not a lot different. The only difference is that, for governments, silence is the tool of choice because not standing up for rural populations ruffles the fewest feathers — a significant part of any government goal.

I suspect that most politicians are too full of fear to act otherwise. I’m sure some of them went into service with the best intentions, but, once within their power-worshiping parties, they find themselves neutered by pompous blowhards who use intimidating tactics like humiliation to keep their doubters at bay. Otherwise, how did Premier Danny Williams consistently get away with placing smiling, clapping women — like McCallum’s member of the house of assembly — behind him whenever the camera was on, in an effort to capture the female vote and the male viewer? Why would any self-respecting woman agree to such lapdog duties unless she felt she had no choice? So, while this pitiable group of politicians may not have the same desire that their voters do to repeatedly point out to outport people their eventual expiry, they do make daily decisions, behind closed doors, that contribute to the death of rural Newfoundland.

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The Elephants in My Backyard

The Elephants in My Backyard

A Memoir of Chasing a Dream and Facing Failure
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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Walking in the Woods

Walking in the Woods

A Métis Memoir
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
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Jacob Isaac Segal

Jacob Isaac Segal

A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

In this book Pierre Anctil reveals to us a language we do not know, that of the Eastern European Jews who were escaping the pogroms in the Tsarist Empire, and later extermination by the Nazis during World War II.

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