When We Both Got to Heaven places James Atkey (1805-1868) on the shores of Georgian Bay at the time of treaty negotiations between the First Nations people of the Saugeen, Nawash and Colpoy’s Bay areas, and the Colonial government. A Methodist lay preacher, Atkey leaves the Isle of Wight and arrives at Colpoy’s Bay with his family in 1855. There he takes up the position of teacher for the Anishnaube children of the area.
The great-great-great-grandson of James Atkey, author Mel Atkey engaged in extensive research of both primary and secondary sources. His efforts provide considerable insight into both the influence of Wesleyan Methodism of the time and the background context of the treaty negotiations that ultimately led to the surrender of much of the Saugeen Peninsula for pioneer settlement. People with leadership roles of the past, such as Chief Kegedonce, Kahkewaquonaby (Rev. Peter Jones), Laurence Oliphant and Sir Francis Bond Head, as well as many others, are part of Atkey’s story.
Reverend Maggie McLeod of the Cape Croker United Church provides a thoughtful Foreword. This quite remarkable book is a compelling read for those interested in Ontario history, First Nations history, genealogy and the role of religion at the time of European settlement.
Mel Atkey has been writing musicals ever since he was in high school in his native Vancouver. His work has been shortlisted for the Vivian Ellis Prize, the Quest for New Musicals, the Ken Hill Prize and Musical Stairs. His first musical, Shikara, was produced on radio in Canada.