New Books and Featured Reading Lists

Each week on the 49th Shelf homepage, we highlight new releases. We also make theme-based lists and showcase lists from guest contributors and 49th Shelf members. This page archives these selections so they are always available to our members.

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New Non-Fiction for the week of July 24th : New Books on History
Raising Royalty

Raising Royalty

1000 Years of Royal Parenting
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
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Excerpt

INTRODUCTION: RAISING A ROYAL CHILD

Prince William made his first parenting mistake in the eyes of the world on the day that his son, Prince George, left hospital in July 2013. There had been journalists and photographers camped around the maternity wing of St. Mary’s hospital in London for weeks leading up to the birth, waiting for the moment when William and his wife Catherine — nicknamed Kate by the media — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, would emerge from the hospital to present their newborn child to the world. Every moment of baby George’s first public appearance was captured on camera to be scrutinized by people around the world on their television screens and online streams. The royal parents received a great deal of praise. William had his sleeves rolled up as though he had just changed a diaper, and Kate wore a fitted dress that did not attempt to disguise her post-pregnancy figure. Even little George appeared to be waving to the crowds from his swaddling clothes.
The criticism came when it was time for William to strap George into his car seat. In previous generations, this kind of task would have been left to a member of the royal household, but William was determined to strap his son into the car and drive his family home like any other new father. Knowing the world’s press would be watching him closely, William reputedly practised assembling the car seat in the privacy of Kensington Palace during the weeks leading up to the birth. Despite these careful preparations, not everything went perfectly on the big day. Within moments of the royal couple and their baby leaving hospital and returning to the palace, parents from all walks of life were posting on internet forums that George had not been properly strapped into his car seat.
On the British childcare blog “Baby Centre,” an irate commenter posted, “If you scroll down to the photos of the baby in the carseat [sic] you will see he is not properly strapped in AT ALL!! Very disappointed! I’m sure they were in a hurry, and I hope that Kate will fix it once they are in the vehicle as it appeared she was sitting in back with the baby.” The commenter included guidelines from the website ChildCarSeats.co.uk to back up her comments. Over at iVillage, online commenters questioned whether a swaddled baby should be in a car seat at all. By the time George’s younger sister, Princess Charlotte, was born in 2015, William seemed to have mastered the car seat — but there was a new complaint: the baby princess’s bonnet appeared to be on backwards for her first public appearance!
The debate over William and the car seat continued for years after George’s birth. In May 2016, one of the United Kingdom’s most prominent etiquette experts, William Hanson, complained that Prince William’s approach to fatherhood was undermining the traditional grandeur, and therefore the future, of the monarchy, writing in the Daily Mail, “I want a well-waxed chauffeured Bentley, not Prince William driving mother and latest child home from the hospital in their family car like a regular bloke.”
Commentary of this kind is almost unknown in the Commonwealth realms, including Canada, where William and Kate were praised for touring with a small entourage in 2011 and spending time with their children in 2016. When the Canadian edition of Hello! published photographs of William holding George at a garden party at Government House in Victoria, British Columbia, in the autumn of 2016, the coverage included praise of William’s close relationship with his son. Hello! reported that “Royal watchers will never forget how he expertly fastened Prince George into the back seat of the car when the tot was just one day old and leaving the hospital.” William’s decision to strap his newborn son into a car seat and drive his family home from hospital had transcended popular debates over the nature of good parenting to encompass the public image of the monarchy as an institution.
The monarchy has always been a family affair. Raising Royalty is the story of how twenty royal couples over the past thousand years have navigated the unique challenges of parenting in the public eye. From fending off Vikings to fending off paparazzi, royal mothers and fathers have made decisions for royal children that encompassed their own personal ambitions and the stability of the throne as well as the timeless needs of young children. Over the past ten centuries, royal children have been parented both in country palaces with well-appointed nurseries and in exile far from their birthplaces. As royal parents, William and Kate are following in the footsteps of centuries of kings and queens, princes and princesses, who were mothers and fathers as well as royalty.  The length and definition of childhood has changed over the centuries, shaping the experiences of royal children. Before the Norman Conquest of 1066, a boy was old enough to swear allegiance to the king at the age of twelve, but Richard III’s nephew, Edward V, was considered too young to rule as king in his own right at that age in 1483. Until the nineteenth century, royal children were often betrothed before they were twelve and married in their early teens to seal diplomatic alliances. The business of ruling was conducted in person by kings and queens who were often away from their children for long periods of time. Even the most devoted royal parents paid little attention to the emotional needs of their children, expecting the obedience of a subject to a sovereign as well as a child to a parent. At a time of high infant mortality, royal parents often expressed their attachment to their children through concern for their health instead of their happiness.
By the late eighteenth century, a new emphasis on “natural” childrearing resulted in royal mothers such as Queen Marie Antoinette of France creating parenting philosophies that took the individual personalities and emotional needs of their children into account. Older methods of royal parenting, however, proved remarkably resilient. Well into the twentieth century, generations of royal children complained that they saw little of their parents and were expected to obey them without question, even as adults. The public viewed the open displays of affection between Diana, Princess of Wales, and her sons, captured by photographers, as a break from royal tradition. Today, William and Kate emphasize that their children will receive as normal an upbringing as possible, demonstrating that the youngest generation of royal parents recognizes the differences between royal tradition and modern parenting trends.
The intense public scrutiny William and Kate experience as parents seems like a modern phenomenon fuelled by the 24-hour news cycle and ubiquity of online message boards, but for as long as there has been royalty, there has been public scrutiny of royal parenting. For centuries, observers from diverse social backgrounds have expressed advice intended for royal parents. Critiquing royal parenting has also been a way of expressing political dissent. Until the twentieth century, high politics was the preserve of a tiny, predominantly male elite, but everyone had ideas about marriage and childrearing from their own experiences and observations. A royal couple whose marriage and family did not meet popular expectations might find themselves the target of satire in popular verse and pamphlets. If relations between monarchs and their people completely broke down, royalty might find themselves having to defend their parenting as well as their political decisions before parliament or a revolutionary tribunal.
Satisfying public opinion is just one of the many challenges royal parents have faced over the centuries. Parenting advice manuals written for commoners — even wealthy commoners — had little to say that addressed the unique circumstances in the royal nursery. Seventeenth-century Protestant clergymen urged fathers to take charge of their children’s training and education, as mothers might be inclined to spare the rod and therefore spoil the child, but King Charles I of England and Scotland had signed a marriage contract that guaranteed his French wife Henrietta Maria control of their children until they turned thirteen. Eighteenth-century French philosophers encouraged mothers to breastfeed and allow their children to explore freely, but when Marie Antoinette tried to follow this advice, she found herself at odds with the strict court etiquette of Versailles. The parenting experts of the 1950s urged parents to teach their children self-reliance, but Queen Elizabeth II’s children were surrounded by servants charged with making their beds and preparing their meals.

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Two Years Below the Horn

Two Years Below the Horn

Operation Tabarin, Field Science, and Antarctic Sovereignty, 1944-1946
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Unbuttoned

Unbuttoned

A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life
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Miss Confederation

Miss Confederation

The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles
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Excerpt

One
Miss Confederation: Mercy Anne Coles

It is rather a joke, he is the only beau of the party and with 5 single ladies he has something to do to keep them all in good humour.1

The “he” mentioned in the above quotation is Leonard Tilley, who was then the premier of New Brunswick, and Mercy Anne Coles, the irreverent writer of this note, was one of those single women. Ten unmarried women altogether, three from Prince Edward Island, two from Nova Scotia, four from New Brunswick, and one from Canada West, accompanied their fathers or brothers to the conference in Quebec City, where the men negotiated Confederation and the creation of Canada.
The start of Canada’s journey to Confederation is a fascinating one, involving a circus; Farini, the tightrope walker from Port Hope, Ontario; the American Civil War; a whole lot of champagne, sunshine, and sea; and lovemaking — in the old-fashioned sense.
The process began in earnest when, in September 1864, the Fathers of Confederation, travelling by rail, steamship, and horse-drawn carriage, met in Charlottetown, the provincial capital of Prince Edward Island, to discuss the possibility of a union of Britain’s North American colonies.* Like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, PEI was an independent colony of the British Crown at the time. The final of this group of colonies, Canada, was made up of Ontario and Quebec, then known respectively as Canada West and Canada East. Each of the Maritime colonies was very small, and with a large and growing American neighbour, many of the colonies’ residents, including those of Canada East and West, felt that if they were to survive separate from the United States, then the time had come to join forces and form a larger political entity.**
Following their time in Charlottetown, the Canadian and Maritime delegates crossed the Northumberland Strait on the Canadians’ steamship, the Queen Victoria, and toured briefly through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, meeting in Halifax on September 12 for the delegates to discuss the idea of Confederation further. Mercy Coles, the unmarried twenty-six-year-old daughter of Prince Edward Island delegate George Coles, went with her father on this tour. From Mercy’s descriptions she was the only young woman to go on this trip with the delegates. Perhaps her father viewed this as an opportunity for her education, or to meet a potential husband.
The big meetings and events, though, were saved for Quebec City, where, in October 1864, the Maritime Fathers of Confederation, with their unmarried daughters and sisters in tow, travelled again on the Queen Victoria, which the Canadians had sent to bring the Maritimers up to Quebec City. They promenaded on the decks and looked out at the spectacular fall scenery along the shores of the St. Lawrence.
Mercy Coles was not part of this large group, however. She writes that her “father thought the trip [by ship the whole way] would be too rough for mother and me.”2 Instead, Mercy, her father and mother; William Pope (Colonial Secretary and a member of the Conservative Party, which was in power in PEI) and his wife; and Mrs. Alexander, the widowed sister of Thomas Heath Haviland (also a member of the Conservative Party), left on October 5, a day earlier than the others. They crossed from PEI to Shediac, New Brunswick, then took a train specially booked for them to Saint John. There they picked up Leonard Tilley, the aforementioned “only beau of the party,” as well as two members of Tilley’s government — Charles Fisher, with his daughter Jane, and William Steeves, with his two daughters.
From Saint John, they travelled by steamship down the Bay of Fundy, the trip taking twenty-four hours, to Portland, Maine (compare this to the sixty-plus hours it would take to get to Quebec City by ship). There was as yet no rail line from the Maritimes to Quebec through Canada, and so the group had to take this roundabout route through the United States. Of course, what the single women missed in the promenading on the Queen Victoria’s deck, they gained in the attention paid to them by the recent widower and then-premier of New Brunswick, Leonard Tilley.
In Quebec City, the Fathers debated and finally crafted the seventy-two resolutions of the British North America Act, the act that formed the Canadian constitution at the time, and which still forms the basis of the Canadian constitution today.

* No young women from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or Canada, accompanied their fathers to the Charlottetown conference in September 1864. No doubt the men didn’t view the time in Prince Edward Island (which had nowhere near the opportunities and entertainment that Quebec City had) as an opportunity for their daughters to meet potential husbands. The women of PEI, however, including Mercy Coles and Margaret Gray, were part of the social events at Charlottetown.
** Newfoundland did not take part in the Charlottetown conference, however representatives from there did go to the Quebec conference.

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Louis Riel

Louis Riel

Let Justice Be Done
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Canada's Coca-Cola

Canada's Coca-Cola

Refreshing the Nation for 120 Years
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Victory at Vimy

Victory at Vimy

Canada Comes of Age, April 9-12, 1917
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Shanghai Grand

Shanghai Grand

Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War
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Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw

A History in Words and Images
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Cottage Books

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New Non-Fiction for the week of July 17th : New Travel Books
Lake Superior to Manitoba by Canoe

Lake Superior to Manitoba by Canoe

Mapping the Route into the Heart of the Continent
edition:Paperback
tagged : ontario
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Celebrating Vancouver

Celebrating Vancouver

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25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit

25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit

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tagged : family
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Camping British Columbia, the Rockies, and Yukon

Camping British Columbia, the Rockies, and Yukon

The Complete Guide to Government Park Campgrounds, Expanded Eighth Edition
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Wanderlust

Wanderlust

Stories on the Move
guest editor Byrna Barclay
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary
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Excerpt

From “Pirates of the Heart” – Brenda Niskala

 

AT FIRST, the thought of owning another person did not sit well with Vaino.

 

And what if this woman was being nice to him just to get ahead? Of course she was. That is what slaves do. They ingratiate themselves. Or they become bitter. Or silent and cunning. No, Vaino thought. They must always be silent and cunning. To stay alive. And here was Tasya, with her big teeth, with her lips so plump, her yellow hair and green eyes, and her almost cruel way of teasing him.

 

He thought of Leena, shivering with fever on the hide blanket. Leena, dying in that awful place. She must be dead now, in spite of his guard and new friend Tuomi's gift of sight. Vaino did not believe in such things. Best to face the truth. Poor Leena, her spirit, so far from the trees of the ancestors., It would never settle down. Her spirit would wander in that place, the slave pit in the harbour of Gotland, homeless, until he came to find her bones. Leena would not want him to be alone on this long journey. Leena would want him to be with someone. Maybe not a wife. No one could replace her, his partner, his home mate. But she would not want him to mourn. She would want him to live.

 

He tilted his chin up and to the right a bit, to that place where he could sometimes feel the presence of the spirits as they passed. But Leena was not there. How could she be? Still, he tilted his head and asked the departed grandparents to intercede on his behalf, to forgive him his weakness in not being there to help her, his weakness in leaving her to die. As he had for almost every day since the ship set off for the east, he thought through every moment of his captivity since leaving Gotland.

 

Was there a moment when he could have turned back, when he could have jumped ship, escaped, and returned to put her to rest? Maybe when they were trading with the Slavs. The camp was a temporary trading place, shaped like a triangle, with the tent forming the narrow peak opening to the waterside. Vaino should have run then, instead of going into that smoky chum, that tent so like the home of his little cousin of the Sami, but so much larger. But run where? The river meandered between low banks, and beyond only miles of flatland, tall grasses, and then nothing more as far as the eye could see. That was the problem. The Norse and the Khanty and everyone else on those plains would see him for hours, could simply ride out after a leisurely visit, pick him up, then put him in the slave tent. Sundvold, the Pretender, and his crew were not looking for grizzled old slaves like him at this stop. Not for the eastern markets.

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Splendour of the Canadian Rockies

Splendour of the Canadian Rockies

photographs by Paul Zizka
by Meghan Ward
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#BCBooks Fall2017

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New Non-Fiction for the week of July 10th : New Books on Music
A Distorted Revolution

A Distorted Revolution

How Eric's Trip Changed Music, Moncton, and Me
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Rock 'n' Radio

Rock 'n' Radio

When DJs and Rock Music Ruled the Airwaves
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Relics and Tunes

Relics and Tunes

The Songs of Amelia Curran
edition:Paperback
tagged : lyrics
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Essential Song

Essential Song

Three Decades of Northern Cree Music
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Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers

Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers

The Rise of Motörhead
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The Mariposa Folk Festival
Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
In the Beginning
Club Pavalon, more commonly known as “the Pav,” was an old-time dance hall situated on the edge of Couchiching Beach Park in Orillia. It had a reputation for bringing in great bands and was a popular hangout for teens, who would dance to the likes of Bobby Curtola, the Stitch in Tyme, the Downchild Blues Band, and the Guess Who. The Pav also doubled as a community meeting hall.
On a cold January evening in 1961, John Fisher took to the Pav’s stage to address the local Chamber of Commerce about tourism and, specifically, how to promote it in small towns. Fisher had been nicknamed “Mr. Canada” for his enthusiastic and influential CBC broadcasts about Canadian culture and history. He would go on to be a key figure in putting on Expo 67 during the centennial year. But in 1961 in Orillia, he had come to town to speak about what would make Orillia a desirable tourist destination. Little did he dream that he was planting the seed of an idea that would lead to the creation of a Canadian institution — the Mariposa Folk Festival.
In the audience that night was Ruth Jones, a young, community-minded mother, who was a folk music enthusiast. She and her husband would often make the trek south to Toronto to hear the traditional and the new sounds coming from the coffee houses and folk clubs in the city. Ever since the Kingston Trio had topped the popular music charts with their 1958 hit “Tom Dooley,” folk music had gained increasing popularity, especially with young people. The folk boom — some wags have called it the “folk scare” — was well underway in the winter of 1961. A number of folk clubs already existed in the city, especially in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto. Ruth was intrigued by what Fisher said about the growing number of arts festivals around the country and how Orillia might benefit from staging something of that sort.
The wheels were set in motion. Several days later, as she lay in bed with a nasty flu bug and time to think, Ruth came up with the idea of putting on a folk music festival in town.
Orillia at that time was a quiet place of about fourteen thousand residents. Situated between two lakes, its summertime population allegedly doubled with the arrival of cottagers and nearby resort guests. Orillia’s biggest employer was the Ontario Hospital School, one of the largest mental institutions in the country. That was also the workplace of Ruth’s husband, Dr. Casey Jones. The rest of the town’s economy was based on its moderately sized factories and depended upon the tourism business in the surrounding area. The sleepy demeanour was not all that far removed from the quirky fictional village of Mariposa that Stephen Leacock had described in his 1912 novel Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Leacock, a summer resident of Orillia, based many of his characters and events on real people and real incidents in the community. The book propelled Leacock into stardom as an international humorist, and it put Orillia on the map as the archetypal small Canadian town.
A few days after Fisher’s speech, Ruth made a call to Pete McGarvey, a local broadcaster and a town alderman who was also interested in promoting Orillia as a travel destination. Only a few years earlier McGarvey had almost single-handedly saved Stephen Leacock’s home from the wrecker’s ball. By 1961 it had become a local museum and a tourist attraction, thanks to Pete’s efforts and hard work.
“She had this glorious idea that we could stage a folk festival in Orillia that very summer. She thought that would be the dimension that John Fisher was calling for,” recalled McGarvey. “I agreed wholeheartedly that it should be done; nobody else was doing it; the talent was near at hand; Orillia was, of course, a resort community accustomed to summer visitors; and we had plenty of places to show their talents — the Opera House, the community centre outdoors, or the Oval [the town’s sports arena]. So that was it.”1
The name Mariposa was suggested in tribute to Leacock’s literary invention — his satiric jab at the Orillia he knew in 1912. Why he chose the Spanish word for butterfly has never been documented. He may simply have scanned his Ontario map and noticed that there was a Mariposa Township near Lindsay, Ontario, and liked the name. We’ll probably never know. What we do know is that no attempt to mock Orillia was intended in the naming of the festival! Pete, Ruth, and her husband Casey all laid claim to having come up with the name. Ruth’s notebook history credits Casey.
* * *
Ruth and her husband had been folk music enthusiasts for a number of years and they had an insider’s knowledge of the folk community in Toronto. Ruth boldly and confidently approached many of her contacts in the city. An important group on that list was the Toronto Guild of Canadian Folk Artists. Among its somewhat radical left-wing members were people like Estelle Klein, who would eventually become artistic director of the festival, and Sid Dolgay, a member of the folk group the Travellers. Sid’s band had recorded its own version of Woody Guthrie’s folk classic “This Land Is Your Land” in 1955 and had a reputation as Canada’s top folk draw.
The first meeting of the board of directors for the fledgling festival took place at the Jones home on Bay Street in Orillia. Ruth became president; Pete was elected vice-president, and Casey would act as secretary-treasurer. It was appropriate that Casey be treasurer: he contributed $5,000 of the Jones’s own money, a sizable amount in 1961, indeed (the equivalent of about $40,000 in 2016).
The trio got the approval of Orillia town council and was even given a small amount of money — $250 — to help fund the festival. Ruth and her team solicited advice from what was then the only other modern folk festival in North America, the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.2 A date in August was selected, and even though it was still a snowy February, that summer weekend loomed ominously.
Much of the work and direction over the next few months came from Toronto. Under Ruth’s leadership, an informal group of advisors from the city helped to bring in the acts, organize the minutia, and set in motion the procedures that would make her dream into a reality. In addition to Estelle Klein and Sid Dolgay, Syd Banks, who was a renowned television and music producer, helped out. Ed Cowan was asked to be the first producer of the festival and Ted Schafer was named the first emcee. Edith Fowke, host of CBC’s Folk Song Time and a renowned folklorist in her own right, also chipped in. Edith — who was the quintessential expert on Canadian folk music at that time — pushed for an all-Canadian flavour. Ruth’s brother David Major did a lot of the legwork “in the trenches,” according to Ruth. Emerging musical star Ian Tyson used his early training as a graphic artist to design the first poster and the initial Mariposa logo. Many of the meetings were held in Ian’s downtown-Toronto apartment. In his 2010 autobiography, The Long Trail: My Life in the West, Tyson makes mention of the fact that the poster for the first Mariposa Folk Festival still hangs in the kitchen of his home in rural Alberta.
Innumerable phone calls and hectic meetings took place in those months between February and August of 1961. Ruth and her helpers put a lot of wear and tear on their cars as they drove up and down the 125 or so kilometres of highway between Orillia and Toronto. Decisions were made on a lineup, on how to advertise and sell the new concept, and on where to actually hold the event. Numerous solutions had to be found for problems that no one had ever encountered before. Where would visitors stay? Where would they house the performers overnight? How would they recruit the necessary volunteers to man all aspects of the actual staging of the festival?
Ruth became something of a publicist for the festival as she travelled all over Ontario touting her new “baby.” She gave numerous radio, TV, and press interviews and made the pages of Chatelaine and Maclean’s magazines. In an unpublished manuscript Ruth recalled, “I arranged that all milk delivered to summer cottagers would have a promotional collar attached…. Every piece of mail that went through the Orillia post office for the month preceding the event got a special cancellation stamp. I travelled all over Ontario doing newspaper, radio, and TV interviews and made a trip to my hometown, Halifax, for a special media event…. We sent out hundreds of news releases — every one sealed and stamped by my four children, David, Bruce, Nancy, and Barb, while they learned and sang folk songs.”3
Ruth sent out letters to people such as Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel, Ed McCurdy and Alan Mills, inviting them to come and play at the festival. Few replied (Bikel, for instance, said he was “busy”), but she remained determined. Her goal was to teach Canadians about their own musical heritage, to give some of our homegrown musicians the publicity they badly needed, and to supply her hometown with a tourist attraction that was both exciting and wholesome. The lineup eventually took on an all-Canadian flavour, showcasing both established and new acts on the Canadian folk scene. The Travellers, Alan Mills, Quebec chanteur Jacques Labrecque, and fiddler Jean Carignan were among the established names hired. Younger performers such as Bonnie Dobson, Mary Jane and Winston Young, and the up-and-coming team of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker were hired to draw the college crowd and show that folk had bright new faces to present to the world. Ruth asked Ian and Sylvia early in February, and both had responded enthusiastically.
There were definitely struggles. The Y’s Men, a local service club, initially pledged $1,000 in exchange for the right to sell 750 tickets at a reduced price. A similar arrangement with the Jaycees, another service club, failed to materialize. Nevertheless Ruth remained optimistic and enthusiastic, as demonstrated by remarks in her journal: “They liked Finvola’s tape — we are trying for LeBreque [sic] again! Oh — this thing is BIG!!”4 Orillia’s town council finally discussed and approved the event on May 1, and the Oval was rented for $150. Ruth even approached the army at nearby CFB Borden about a tent for the Oval grounds.
One of the key figures in the organizing and especially in the programming of Mariposa was Edith Fowke, though her contribution is often overlooked. Her input for the fledgling and later Mariposa Folk Festivals would be invaluable. She held strong views that Canadians should be exposed to traditional Canadian songs, and it was thanks to her that a number of traditional singers made their way onto Mariposa stages.
* * *
On August 18 the initial Mariposa Folk Festival was launched on the green space at the Orillia Oval. The festival’s souvenir pamphlet described it as “Canada’s FIRST National Folk Festival,” but the designation of “first” can be debated.
The Miramichi Folksong Festival in Newcastle, New Brunswick, lays claim to being the first “folksong” festival and predates Mariposa by a number of years. Ruth had contacted that festival, but the only advice given was that they relied on grants from the New Brunswick provincial government.
Purists would argue that neither festival can claim to be the first since there were a number of folk festivals — many sponsored by Canadian Pacific Railway — staged in places like Vancouver, Banff, Regina, Toronto, and Quebec City during the 1930s.
Whatever the case may be, the Mariposa Folk Festival was certainly one of the first, and its size and influence make it by far the most important folk festival in Canadian history.
From the beginning the festival, though smaller than it would later become, was a success, drawing large crowds. Its first home was at a site in Orillia known as the Oval. This area, home to Orillia’s community centre and arena, was tucked between the imposing limestone Roman Catholic church, the local armoury, and modest, middle-class homes along the side streets. It served as the location for local trade shows and the annual Orillia Fall Fair, and it included a somewhat rickety set of bleachers for the local baseball teams and their fans (the baseball diamond was transformed into a concert venue for the festival, the stage an elaborate model of a medieval tent — a nod to Casey Jones’s fascination with the pageantry of the Middle Ages). The entire property was surrounded by a secure high fence, likely a factor in selecting the venue when “nicer” but less secure parks in town could have served the same purpose.

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The Man Who Carried Cash

The Man Who Carried Cash

Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and the Making of an American Icon
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Excerpt

PROLOGUE

The sun was setting as Saul Holiff crossed the living-room floor, his shadow falling on the neatly packed bookshelves as he rounded the corner and entered his study. He looked trim in his tailored black slacks and cashmere sweater; his stride was smooth and purposeful. Despite his seventy-nine years, he was in fairly good health, aside from a heart condition that was controlled with medication. Pulling a set of keys from his pocket, he unlocked the top drawer and pulled it open. He removed the kit from a small black leather bag and placed it on top of the desk. Methodically, he began to remove his jewellery and place it in the drawer.
First he slipped off the slim Piaget watch from his left wrist, then the thin gold wristband from his right. He struggled to loosen the wedding band that had been a fixture on his hand for forty years. The wallet was last.
He reached for the keys, just as he had done in every practice run. But something had changed. He studied the keys in the palm of his hand. Locking the drawer was pointless. He dropped them into the drawer and closed it.
The curtain of dusk began to fall. As he returned to the living room, he flicked on a single lamp, which threw off just enough light to see. The leather sofa squeaked slightly as he sat. The kit, he placed in the centre of the glass coffee table in front of him.
He went over his checklist:
Sit in an upright position ( check).
Eat a little food to prevent vomiting (check).
Drink a small amount of alcohol to augment the action of the drug (check).
He unzipped the kit and parted it against the surface of the table. A television flickered in the corner but was silent. The bottle of pills clicked as he placed it on the table. He removed a black garbage bag and a large elastic band.
He separated a number of gelatin capsules and lightly tapped their contents into a crystal glass, forming a mound of fine reddish powder. Using a long spoon, his actions measured, he mixed in a liberal amount of Stolichnaya, his favourite vodka, and topped it off with a splash of orange juice. Then he lifted the glass to his lips and drank its contents without stopping.
The garbage bag lay beside him, edges rolled up carefully over the elastic band. This part, he had practised a number of times, unrolling and re-rolling the bag until it could be brought down over his face in one smooth action. His wife, Barbara, was on the couch next to him. He turned to meet her eyes and spoke his last words: “Remember what we agreed. You stay in the bedroom and don’t come out, no matter what, until this thing is over. ”
He pulled the bag over his head and filled it with air, before quickly placing the large elastic band around his throat to create a seal.
Barbara was in the bedroom when she heard the noise. Perched on the edge of her mattress, plucking at a stray thread on the bedspread, she raised her head at the sound, hoping she had just imagined it. Straining to listen over the pounding of her heart, it came again, a muffled shout. The third cry brought her to her feet, and instinct forced her out the door and into the living room, toward the sofa. Do not leave the bedroom, no matter what. His last words echoed in her mind. She froze. The Seconal, a fast-acting sedative used to calm patients before surgery, was beginning to hit his bloodstream in a vodka-enhanced flood. Barbara watched in horror as Saul’s arms rose and lagged in the air. She wanted nothing more than to tear that wretched thing off his head, if only to stop the sound he was making, a sound that was now etched into her mind.
She stood rooted to the carpet for a moment, her hands trembling, then turned mechanically and walked back into the bedroom. The lamp on her bedside table remained dark. She turned her wedding band around and around on her finger. I promised I wouldn’t interfere. If I revive him and he ends up a vegetable, or maimed in some way — no, it is impossible, he would never forgive me. As night fell, the patches of silence in the living room expanded until their edges bled together seamlessly. It was over.
It was March 17, 2005.
After what seemed like hours, Barbara emerged from the room. The slumped figure on the couch did not stir. She knew everything had to be left exactly as it was, so she touched nothing except to gently hold her husband’s hand, already cooling to the touch. She remained there for a moment, feeling the tears on her cheeks. Then, she slowly rose and called the police.

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This week's recommended reading lists
New Non-Fiction for the week of June 26th : Canada 150
Is Canada Even Real?

Is Canada Even Real?

How a Nation Built on Hobos, Beavers, Weirdos, and Hip Hop Convinced the World to Beliebe
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also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

Chapter 1

The Littlest Hobo: Our German Shepherd Guardian Angel TV Star

The year is 1979. Margaret Thatcher dramatically wins the British general election, becoming the first female prime minister of Britain. Skylab, NASA’s first orbiting space station, returns triumphantly to Earth after soaring through the stars for more than six miraculous years. Pope John Paul II’s trip to his homeland of Poland sparks a revolution of conscience that transforms a nation.
Meanwhile, in Canada, television executives in Toronto launch a program that stars a German shepherd that travels from town to town befriending clowns, rescuing ballerinas, and foiling gold robbers.
On Thursday, October 11, 1979, The Littlest Hobo (French title: Le Vagabond) premieres on CTV. The pilot episode begins, as each episode will, with Terry Bush’s urban hymn “Maybe Tomorrow.” While most other dramas and comedies are shot on film, The Littlest Hobo is recorded on hard, cheap, bright videotape, a medium reserved for ephemeral (read: disposable) programming.
The opening credits are comprised of a modular montage that shows us, variously, Hobo trotting down a suburban street, Hobo running out of the woods, Hobo in the passenger seat of a convertible. He does not look glamorous, even in a convertible. He is all business. But he is not a business dog. We know this because he wears no tie, no glasses, has no briefcase. “Just grab a hat, we’ll travel light, that’s hobo style,” sings Bush, a wistful smile in his voice. But Hobo wears no hat. Not even a collar. Potentially the least anthropomorphized animal to ever capture the imaginations of both young and old, this dog never wears clothes and is known only as “Hobo,” or by nicknames bestowed by his short-term human companions.
The show’s title appears in yellow brush-stroke font: The LITTLEST HOBO. Say “the”; Yell the rest.
We see Hobo leading a cow, Hobo placing a call, Hobo carrying a rifle. He swims in a lake, his ears smoothed against his nape. He is always moving, always onward. Hobo runs out of the woods, tongue out, panting as he surveys the scene. The next title card reads: Starring LONDON. (Yell it!)
A rainbow-bright hot-air balloon sits in the air. Is Hobo aboard? Wait, Hobo is swimming across a stream now; he emerges onto a rocky outcrop and shakes the water from his coat. Droplets of water arc out in all directions. It is a dramatic visual. It is the most dramatic visual you will see for the duration of the program. A dog shaking water off himself. Hold on to that. Hold dearly to that sense of wonder, that action.
Hobo’s origins, motivation, and ultimate destination are never explained over the course of the series. In this capacity, he is the perfect metaphor for Canada.
In the opening scene of the pilot episode of The Littlest Hobo, our altruistic Alsatian befriends forest ranger Ray Caldwell and rescues a pair of wildcat cubs from a forest fire. But the scene is soft, slow, halting. There are no subtle nuances. There are broad actions and sharp transitions. There is no budget for suspense.
As the episode continues, a local storekeeper aims to keep the forest’s fire-ravaged animals at bay by setting a trap of raw hamburger laced with rat poison outside his shop, but it’s eaten by a toddler. First of all, I hope viewers made note that CTV was the destination on Thursday evenings for watching wee ones eat raw meat, but secondly, and most importantly, Where were you on that one, Hobo?
In an attempt to save the child, Ranger Caldwell and Hobo set off by plane to fetch a doctor and the antidote, but a thunderstorm prevents Caldwell from landing the plane back home, leading to this tense exchange:

Caldwell: Of all the rough luck. I can’t even see the airstrip.
The doctor: What can we do?
Caldwell: The only other place is about ten miles out. We might make it there, but there wouldn’t be any kind of vehicle to go the rest of the way.
The doctor: The child needs an antidote in a hurry.
Caldwell: Doc, can you fly a plane?
The doctor: Goodness, no, no, I’ve only been up a few times in my life. Why?
Caldwell: There’s a parachute in the rear. You could land it and I could jump with the antidote.
The doctor: Sorry.

You’re likely now considering that scriptwriting might be a much, much easier venture than you’d previously imagined, and it may prove to be a generous source of income for you or anyone else capable of penning such prose — say, your nine-year-old tabby or your great aunt with the acquired brain injury. With characteristic Canadian humility, even those behind the scenes acknowledged that aspects of the show were lacking. “Sometimes the stories, quite honestly, may fall flat,” producer Barrie Diehl told StarWeek in 1985. “It could be considered unexciting.… The A-Team is exciting. They shoot guns.”
Returning to the show, we see that, naturally, Caldwell and the doctor take the only reasonable course of action under the circumstances: they strap a parachute to the stray and hurl it out of the plane in a storm.
“You know, I could swear you’ve done this before,” Caldwell says to the dog with a cure for poisoning attached to his collar and a parachute strapped to his back. Our four-legged hero hops out of the plane as the ranger whispers, “Good luck.”
The chute deploys and Hobo comes to a reasonably graceless landing in a field. He sprints through a forest and across a creek.
We see the toddler’s anxious parents waiting in a medical clinic. Then Hobo walks into the clinic and the attendant immediately goes for his neck pack. Obviously, this dog is here with the cure. A perfunctory “good dog” is issued. The toddler is saved. Now, Hobo rests.
Only one question remains: How is this even a real show? Oh, and also, all these other questions:

1. Which of these Canadian celebrities guest-starred on The Littlest Hobo?
a) Super Dave Osborne
b) Mike Myers
c) David Suzuki
d) Leslie Nielsen

2. How many episodes of The Littlest Hobo were produced by CTV?
a) 18
b) 50
c) 67
d) 114

3. What happens in the final episode of the series?
a) Hobo finds an undetonated Second World War bomb
b) a gambler plans to sabotage a lumberjack contest
c) a criminal tries to sell a stolen secret laser
d) Hobo is mistaken for a sheep-killing wolf

4. Reruns of The Littlest Hobo ran on national networks until
a) the ’80s
b) the ’90s
c) the ’00s
d) the ’10s

5. The program is based on
a) a 1958 Hollywood movie about a stray dog that befriends a boy named Tommy and rescues his pet lamb from slaughter
b) Le Vagabond, a Quebecois fairy tale that also features a man who believes himself to be a horse
c) an acid-fuelled fever dream endured by television producer Dorrell McGowan
d) the 1978 TV series Incredible Hulk, which sees a widowed traveller help others in need despite his terrible secret

6. London, the dog who played Hobo, co-starred with Prince in which film?
a) Purple Rain
b) Under the Cherry Moon
c) Graffiti Bridge
d) The Sacrifice of Victor

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Miss Confederation

Miss Confederation

The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles
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also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

One
Miss Confederation: Mercy Anne Coles

It is rather a joke, he is the only beau of the party and with 5 single ladies he has something to do to keep them all in good humour.1

The “he” mentioned in the above quotation is Leonard Tilley, who was then the premier of New Brunswick, and Mercy Anne Coles, the irreverent writer of this note, was one of those single women. Ten unmarried women altogether, three from Prince Edward Island, two from Nova Scotia, four from New Brunswick, and one from Canada West, accompanied their fathers or brothers to the conference in Quebec City, where the men negotiated Confederation and the creation of Canada.
The start of Canada’s journey to Confederation is a fascinating one, involving a circus; Farini, the tightrope walker from Port Hope, Ontario; the American Civil War; a whole lot of champagne, sunshine, and sea; and lovemaking — in the old-fashioned sense.
The process began in earnest when, in September 1864, the Fathers of Confederation, travelling by rail, steamship, and horse-drawn carriage, met in Charlottetown, the provincial capital of Prince Edward Island, to discuss the possibility of a union of Britain’s North American colonies.* Like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, PEI was an independent colony of the British Crown at the time. The final of this group of colonies, Canada, was made up of Ontario and Quebec, then known respectively as Canada West and Canada East. Each of the Maritime colonies was very small, and with a large and growing American neighbour, many of the colonies’ residents, including those of Canada East and West, felt that if they were to survive separate from the United States, then the time had come to join forces and form a larger political entity.**
Following their time in Charlottetown, the Canadian and Maritime delegates crossed the Northumberland Strait on the Canadians’ steamship, the Queen Victoria, and toured briefly through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, meeting in Halifax on September 12 for the delegates to discuss the idea of Confederation further. Mercy Coles, the unmarried twenty-six-year-old daughter of Prince Edward Island delegate George Coles, went with her father on this tour. From Mercy’s descriptions she was the only young woman to go on this trip with the delegates. Perhaps her father viewed this as an opportunity for her education, or to meet a potential husband.
The big meetings and events, though, were saved for Quebec City, where, in October 1864, the Maritime Fathers of Confederation, with their unmarried daughters and sisters in tow, travelled again on the Queen Victoria, which the Canadians had sent to bring the Maritimers up to Quebec City. They promenaded on the decks and looked out at the spectacular fall scenery along the shores of the St. Lawrence.
Mercy Coles was not part of this large group, however. She writes that her “father thought the trip [by ship the whole way] would be too rough for mother and me.”2 Instead, Mercy, her father and mother; William Pope (Colonial Secretary and a member of the Conservative Party, which was in power in PEI) and his wife; and Mrs. Alexander, the widowed sister of Thomas Heath Haviland (also a member of the Conservative Party), left on October 5, a day earlier than the others. They crossed from PEI to Shediac, New Brunswick, then took a train specially booked for them to Saint John. There they picked up Leonard Tilley, the aforementioned “only beau of the party,” as well as two members of Tilley’s government — Charles Fisher, with his daughter Jane, and William Steeves, with his two daughters.
From Saint John, they travelled by steamship down the Bay of Fundy, the trip taking twenty-four hours, to Portland, Maine (compare this to the sixty-plus hours it would take to get to Quebec City by ship). There was as yet no rail line from the Maritimes to Quebec through Canada, and so the group had to take this roundabout route through the United States. Of course, what the single women missed in the promenading on the Queen Victoria’s deck, they gained in the attention paid to them by the recent widower and then-premier of New Brunswick, Leonard Tilley.
In Quebec City, the Fathers debated and finally crafted the seventy-two resolutions of the British North America Act, the act that formed the Canadian constitution at the time, and which still forms the basis of the Canadian constitution today.

* No young women from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, or Canada, accompanied their fathers to the Charlottetown conference in September 1864. No doubt the men didn’t view the time in Prince Edward Island (which had nowhere near the opportunities and entertainment that Quebec City had) as an opportunity for their daughters to meet potential husbands. The women of PEI, however, including Mercy Coles and Margaret Gray, were part of the social events at Charlottetown.
** Newfoundland did not take part in the Charlottetown conference, however representatives from there did go to the Quebec conference.

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Surviving Canada

Surviving Canada

Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal
edition:Paperback
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25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit

25 Places in Canada Every Family Should Visit

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : family
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Past Lives

Past Lives

Performing Canada's Histories
edition:Paperback
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National Performance

National Performance

Representing Quebec from Expo 67 to Celine Dion
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
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My Canada

My Canada

An Alternative Take on the Great White North
edition:Paperback
tagged : anecdotes
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This week's recommended reading lists

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