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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

The Wild Boy of Waubamik

A Memoir

by (author) Thom Ernst

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2023
Personal Memoirs, Child Abuse, Entertainment & Performing Arts
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
    List Price

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“An inspiring story of resilience, told with a vivid sense of character and humour.” —RICHARD CROUSE, CTV host and film critic
Film critic, writer, and broadcaster Thom Ernst chronicles his life growing up with an abusive father in rural Ontario.
The residents of Waubamik know about the Wild Boy, a somewhat feral child, standing nearly naked in a rusty playground of weeds and discarded metal, clutching a headless doll. They know the boy has been plucked from poverty and resettled into a middle-class family. But they don’t know that something worse awaits him there.
This is the story of a system that failed, a community that looked the other way, and a family that kept silent. It is also a record of the popular culture of the 1960s — a powerful set of myths that kept a boy comforted. But ultimately, The Wild Boy of Waubamik is a story of triumph, of a man who grew up to become a film critic and broadcaster despite his abusive childhood. It reminds us that life, even at its darkest, can surprise us with moments of joy and hope and dreams for the future.

About the author

Thom Ernst is a film writer, broadcaster, and critic. He was the former host and producer of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies. Thom currently lives in Toronto with his wife, daughter, and a cat.


Thom Ernst's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Courageously honest, and emotionally shattering, The Wild Boy of Waubamik scratches the surface of complacency to dive into the deep, secret waters of childhood sexual abuse, giving a voice to those unheard. Beautifully written, this memoir is as illuminating as it is necessary.

Heidi von Palleske, actor and author of Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack

An inspiring story of resilience, told with a vivid sense of character and humour.

Richard Crouse, CTV host and film critic

Filters trauma through pop culture, the past through screens, whether they be silver, televisual, or the many varieties of emotional self-defence.

Andrew Pyper, author of The Homecoming

A refreshing and strange coming of age story that’s redolent with all the heavy stuff — mortality, impermanence, family — but also dances in the light. Thom Ernst has made his own confection, and the rewards are in the sugar of the language and the tart of the story.

Dave Bidini, author of Midnight Light

Thom Ernst’s harrowing, heartfelt, fascinating and thoroughly original and readable memoir of adoption and abuse — and the art that can come of them.

Ian Brown, broadcaster and award-winning author

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