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December 9, 2005

Christmas Books Worth a Look

The Globe and Mail recently published a list of the best books of 2005 including some history books.  My history column today lists some of my local favorite history books which includes some from the G&M. 

 Covers of some books worth a look

Canadian Pacific: Stand Fast Craigellachie 

With the Canadian Pacific Railway on our doorstep the new book Canadian Pacific by Greg McDonnell with 350 coloured photos should interest many in the area.  The CPR deserves a pat on their back for their Holiday Train which stopped in Mattawa, Bonfield and North Bay last weekend and had one of its boxcars open up to become a stage for Christmas performers.  Other cars carried food bank donations and were decorated with thousands of lights. 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Roads. 

Astorville author Max Burns has just completed his 6th book.  This one looks at the favorite roads that he has biked on across Canada.  His sense of humour about the Trash Canada Highway and other sights moves the book along as do maps, photographs, etc.  Itís not just for bikers, but anyone with time and a sense of adventure.  Max will be at Gulliversí Books on Main Street, North Bay tomorrow December 10 from 1-3 where you can meet him and get a book signed. 

The Cabin: A Search for Personal Sanctuary 

Temagamiís Hap Wilson is known for his canoe books, his artistic ability, his conservationist activities and his guiding on over 300 wilderness expeditions.  He has now written about his life and about how he found peace and pleasure at the edge of Lady Evelyn River in the depths of Temagami.  With 41 of his beautiful drawings it is a refreshing Christmas read.  Hap will be showing slides and signing his books tonight Friday December 9 at Gulliversí from 7:30 to 9pm. 

Three Day Road 

My favourite book this year is a novel by Joseph Boyden on 2 Ontario Cree nephews who fought as snipers in WWI.  I have mentioned it a couple of times in my column before.  The book is inspired by the real life native sniper Francis Pegamahgabow whose recent book I also profiled.  A powerful war story it also profiles the native way of life including the abuses of residential schools.  The Boyden & the Stephen Lewis book below are on the G&W Best 100 List. 

Wartime Letters Home 

In this Year of the Veteran a book by North Bay author Lois MacDonald is a treat.  She was a member of Canadian Red Cross Corp overseas during WWII and while there carried on an active correspondence and met many lifelong friends.  She came to North Bay with her husband John Cooper and had 4 daughters.  She weaves a fascinating story of those war years and her part in it. 

Bullies in Power 

Paul Lagace a career soldier had 3 stays in North Bay where he experienced some remarkable bias as a part of his career.  An ordinary guy with some Metis blood, he lived with a native woman who wouldnít marry because she would lose her status.  Starting with the military chaplain who told him to drop his wife he suffered interminable abuse for years on this and other issues.  

It turns out he has a lawyer mentality and acquired excellent academic qualifications, the ability to write and the courage to stand up to the brass.  After his career he became an outstanding advocate for AIDS victims and won many civil rights tribunals.  A fascinating primer on fighting and sometimes winning in a battle with the bureaucratic authority. 

North Bay Association for Community Living 

The local Association for people with developmental disabilities has been a remarkably effective and progressive organization for many years.  The new book on their history is an interesting read for anyone interested in humane treatment of the handicapped. 

Kids Books 

Three new books with an historical theme are hot off the press.  For 5-10 year olds A Pioneer ABC is a colourful well illustrated introduction to pioneer life for youngsters.  It has some built in suspense.  Another Ontario alphabet book for the same age group is A is for Algonquin and is an interesting read with an educational subtext.  For older children The Red Sash tells the story of an adventurous Metis boy who got a voyageur sash when he saves a boat in a storm. 

Sky Woman 

This collection of work from Aboriginal women from Canada and around the world is edited by Temagami First Nation Author Sandra Laronde, the Artistic Director of the Red Sky Performance Company that recently performed in North Bay. 

Race Against Time 

Canadian Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Secretary-Generalís envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and leader of other humanitarian endeavours recently gave the 2005 Massey Lectures.  Now in book form it is a powerful cry for leadership and support for the hundreds of thousands dying of Aids in Africa. 

For the Love of History

The Canadian National History Society has many excellent books including the one above where Canadaís best history writers share their favorite stories.  The society also publishes Canadaís premier history magazine The Beaver.  Time is short so call 1-800-816-6777 or log on to www.historysociety.ca

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