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History General

Witch in the Wind

The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose

by (author) Marq de Villiers

Initial publish date
Mar 2014
General, Naval, Sailing
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2007
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2014
    List Price

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While the story of the Bluenose — her legendary speed and the famous races she won over the years — has often been told, Witch in the Wind explores the history of the Bluenose from a fresh new perspective. In Witch in the Wind, Marq de Villiers examines the history of this famous vessel against the social and economic backdrop of the east coast Atlantic shipping and fishing industries that spawned her.

Unlike any previous examination of the Bluenose, de Villiers contextualizes the birth and death of this celebrated ship with rise of industrialization and the decline of the Age of Sail, and the impact of these changes on generations of families whose way of life depended on the sea. Witch in the Wind is an evocative journey into previously untold backstory of the Bluenose, exploring the place that built her, the men who sailed her and the industry that gave rise to her.

De Villiers takes readers deep into the heart of Canadian maritime history, giving new life to the long-standing legend of the magnificent Bluenose.

About the author

Born in South Africa, Marq de Villiers is a veteran Canadian journalist and the author of thirteen books on exploration, history, politics, and travel, including Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather, Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource (winner of the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction), Down the Volga in a Time of Troubles, and Into Africa: A Journey Through the Ancient Empires, written with Sheila Hirtle. He has worked as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and through Eastern Europe and spent many years as Editor and then Publisher of Toronto Life magazine. Most recently he was Editorial Director of WHERE Magazines International.


Marq de Villiers' profile page

Editorial Reviews

Witch in the Wind demonstrates that the Bluenose was a late flowering in schooner design, a high point of sorts, yet, even when brand spanking new, already an exercise in nostalgia and romance, a last remnant of a lost world of wood and wind and canvas an speed...Witch in the Wind boasts fishing scenes worthy of Melville."

Canadian Geographic

Poignant and often profound, Witch in the Wind shows the tone and texture of a seasoned journalist, peppered with distinct Maritime flavour...

Globe & Mail

This is not just a book about a pretty legend, a ship-on-a-dime. Instead, it is the story of tough men in a tough trade who put to sea in search of fish, sailing ships that often carried far too much canvas, endangering and often extinguishing the lives of those who crewed them...If you read only one book about the Bluenose, make it this one.

Owen Sound Sun Times

The story of the Bluenose, on waves and land, is... a wonderful story of ingenuity and intrigue and inspiration.

Halifax Herald

Witch in the Wind sometimes reads like a celebrity tell-all: myths are debunked; the true characters of the famous boat’s owners, skipper, and crew are revealed; and her fierce competition with American ships is exposed in all its ugly glory. De Villiers has done an excellent job of outlining the context behind the building of the Bluenose and her racing success, and has produced a story that is far more interesting than the conventional tale about a magical boat that never lost a race. Boat enthusiasts and landlubbers alike will appreciate de Villiers’ thorough, yet accessible, research.

Quill & Quire

De Villiers... is a gifted writer with the research skills and authority of a professional historian and the storytelling strengths of an inspired journalist.

Atlantic Books Today

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