Winner of the 1991 QSPELL Prize for Non-fiction
One of Canada’s founding peoples, the Irish arrived in the Newfoundland fishing stations as early as the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century they were establishing farms and settlements from Nova Scotia to the Great Lakes. Then, in the 1840s, came the failures of Ireland’s potato crop, which people in the west of Ireland had depended on for survival. "And that," wrote a Sligo countryman, "was the beginning of the great trouble and famine that destroyed Ireland."
Flight from Famine is the moving account of a Victorian-era tragedy that has echoes in our own time but seems hardly credible in the light of Ireland’s modern prosperity. The famine survivors who helped build Canada in the years that followed Black ’47 provide a testament to courage, resilience, and perseverance. By the time of Confederation, the Irish population of Canada was second only to the French, and four million Canadians can claim proud Irish descent.
Donald MacKay's 60-year career as a reporter, broadcaster, historian, and author of 10 books has taken him to every Canadian province and a dozen countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Two of his books, The Lumberjacks and Scotland Farewell, were runners-up for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Flight from Famine received Quebec's 1991 QSPELL Prize.
Descended from Pictou County settlers, and born and educated in Nova Scotia, he was a wartime merchant seaman, has been a reporter for Canadian Press, and covered major stories in a dozen countries for United Press International. He spent a decade as chief European correspondent for UPI Broadcast Services, based in London, and was general manager of UPI in Canada for five years before turning to writing books.
Donald and his wife, Barbara, live in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
The Irish were nothing if not resilient, and MacKay peppers his book with little anecdotes linking past and present...MacKay's book is a delight to read because as a historian, he knows that the best way to engage readers is by telling the stories of ordinary people-and he does a superlative job of it.
"An intriguing and comprehensive history, Flight From Famine is highly recommended for scholarly collections."
"(Flight from Famine) is a story of survival, courage and, above all, hope."