Friday, 25 November 2011

Willaim Shakespeare, John Wilkes Booth and Mercy Coles, New York City

Today November 25th, 1864, also a Friday, the Booth brothers below put on a benefit performance for one night only, the first and only time they performed together, to raise money for this statue of William Shakespeare in Central Park New York City. (It was April 14, 1865 when John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln.)

On top of that, less than an hour into the performance Confederates set fire to the city and to the house attached to the theatre. The New York Times called it "one of the most fiendish and inhuman acts known in modern times," Read more here

Less than 2 weeks earlier Mercy Coles and her parents were at the same theatre. Just interesting I think, all the connections of one thing to another.


Julius Caesar at The Winter Garden Theatre, with John Wilkes Bookth, Edwin Booth and Junium Brutus Booth Jr.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

More fact and fiction with Mercy Coles

Image courtesy of Susan Law

It has been really interesting for me to go back and look at Mercy Coles' diary from 1864 and do more research on the event and places at the time - there are so many more connections than those mentioned here yet and I plan on doing more - for example, the Peace Conference in Niagara Falls in July 1864 and the writings of John Wilkes Booth, more on education in Ontario and what developed from the Toronto Normal School ... just the tip of the iceberg in my notes below.

More of my notes from Mercy Coles' diary Nov 1864

And the Lawyers Hall, now Osgoode Hall, from the novel:

Wednesday, November 2nd. Toronto

In the morning Mercy rose, untired. They toured the
city, the delegates and the women shown the sights. The first
stop was the Lawyers Hall where the centre room reached all
the way to the roof and they stood and looked up at a dome
made completely of stained glass. The light from the dome
was filtered and shimmered along the walls and the floor of
mosaic. It made Mercy feel dizzy with her head back, staring
up. Her hair fell over her forehead and into her face and across
her eyes as she knew it would. Her sleepless night and waiting,
the air so still in the room and she was breathless. The room
a fall of water, the coloured light playing over their skin.
Anticipation the whole night through, wanting to see him.

But he wasn’t there.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Giller invite and a food and off beat literary tour of my favourite Toronto places

This is Helen's invite to the Gillers this evening. She won the Grand Prize of a trip for 2 to the Gillers - and nominated my book. I moved from Toronto to Regina 12 years ago - and still have my favourite bakeries and places to go there - so I thought I'd put together a Giller Food and Out and About Tour. Yours to enjoy too!

Greek pastries Akropolis (not sure how late they are open, I’d usually go for lunch or a late afternoon snack.)
Spinach and cheese pies – ‘spanakopita’ and also custard pies dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon – all to die for! Their signs say they sell their phyllo pastry across Canada.
On the Danforth, Pape subway station, exit on the north –east side and walk east 1 – 2 blocks. See here
       After the Greek place you can keep walking east on the Danforth – it has changed from Greek to lots of Ethiopian and Eritrean places. Mosques. And a Turkish place that sells mostly olives, but also had a tray of stuffed grape leaves – the best, honestly, that I’ve ever tasted. As good as the ones my old ESL students made from leaves they’d picked in High Park.
             And if you want to take the subway further east yet – but need to give yourself some time, 30 – 40 minutes maybe – there is the RC Harris Water Filtration Plant – see note below.

The Portuguese Bakery Nova Era is not to miss – great reviews here. Take the bus south from Ossington Station down to Dundas. Walk west 1 – 2 blocks. Nova Era is right there on the north side, windows full of light, corn bread and everything else, pastries to sit and eat there, with ahhh coffee, AND more pastries to take away. You can’t go wrong. See here

Italian restaurant – not tres fancy, but nice, and excellent just family Italian food – they’ve been there 40 yrs I think. My sister and I always used to go and I went in August this past summer – still excellent (even nicer in the summer when you can sit outside, nevertheless, lots of windows and just nice. The Capital Restaurant on 597 College Street at Clinton (either take the subway to Bathurst and the streetcar south to College and walk 8 ish blocks or take the College Street car westbound, from anywhere along College.)  ... And then there are a few gelato places all right there.

Bar Volo is on Yonge Street just north of Wellesley a block ish. The Ont Speaker of the House recommended it! It’s good, a real urban Toronto experience – and their beers on tap change throughout the day. The Speaker likes it b/c they sometimes have ‘Dead Elephant Ale’ from a brewery in St Thomas where he is from and where Jumbo the Elephant was killed in a train crash in 1885. (The food was a bit pricey for what we got – so we’d recommend going for the beer not for dinner.)See here.


Osgoode Hall - Originally called The Lawyers Hall – it’s in Mercy Coles diary and that ceiling of domed glass and mosaic tile floor is still there (tho I remember it seemed a bit difficult to find). A lovely and interesting building inside too. On Queen Street at University (about 3 blocks west of the Eaton Centre) See here

The Ontario Legislature  - Queens Park, is a stunning building. I can’t believe I’d never been in till we toured it for the Hansard Conference. It’s at University and College

Also – maybe the Carlu (I thought for eating ... but see the rest of the note) because Christopher Moore talked of it and it sounded good and fun – and also because a Saskatchewan children’s writer was the originator of the prize they were giving out.See Chris Moore's note on the Carlu and the Bilson Prize.
Ah I see on looking at the website it is for special events only – worth a look at though ... wonder if you can take tours? It’s at Yonge and College. For the Carlu

If you want to go for a walk from there and see some real live foliage you can walk east a good few blocks and get to the green houses – gosh nice and warm and lovely. A real haven. It’s not in the best part of town, go in the daytime, etc.

A bit further away – but if you’re going for the Greek place ... well ...
The R C Harris Water Filtration Plant in the Beaches is something not to be missed either –  Ondaatje used it as a site in In the Skin of a Lion. It’s something else. You have to go way east on the subway (Station ?) and then take the bus south and the streetcar more east. It takes a bit of time – you get to see the Beaches area at the same time though – funky, different, a whole other Toronto down there.
            When taking the subway to Pape for the Greek Akropolis and further east to the Beaches, you’ll pass over the Don Valley – this is the bridge that M Ondaatje also writes about – same book (remember the nun Alice Gull), same guy RC Harris (who wanted to design a “Palace for water”).See here   and here

For Helen's win for To the Edge of the Sea see here
"A must read for Canadians as it features John A. Macdonald and the beginnings of Canada. Anne creates tension from the first page. We almost feel that we have gotten into Mercy Cole's body with the description of the turning of her wrist. The sentences are brush strokes in this painterly, lyrical writing." 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The Canadian Boat Song by Thomas Moore

Mercy Coles writes of The Canadian Boat Song as she and the Fathers of Confederation and their families travel from Montreal to Ottawa in 1864 - so I included it in my novel - and, of course, no book launch is complete without a singalong. With thanks here to my niece Kate and her grade 5 class.

For more notes on Mercy's travels from her diary I've posted them here at Christopher Moore's History

Monday, 31 October 2011

Mercy Coles and the failed Ball Government House Quebec October 1864

Originally Government House, also known as Spencer Wood, now Parc du Bois-d-Coulonge in Quebec City
image from Tourisme Quebec

This is a continuation of Mercy Coles' diary from the Quebec Conference of October 1864. Mercy was 26, unmarried and the daughter of George Coles of PEI, one of the Fathers of Confederation. The unmarried daughters and sisters went along to Quebec as well as the wives of the delegates. Mercy wrote of the parties and balls and of the sights and other 'goings -on'.

“Monday Afternoon – 17th
      Home all alone. I have not been able to leave my bedroom since Friday [October 14, 1864]. Just as I was going to get ready for the Ball I went to comb Mamma’s hair and nearly fainted. She made me lie down. I got so nervous and excited that I [unclear] crying. Papa went off for Dr. Tupper, he came up directly. He wrote some prescriptions and sent them off to have some medicine made up for me, he saw I had a very sore throat and was very feverish, of course going to the Ball was out of the question so I very soon undressed and got into bed. ... They [her mother and father] did not start until nearly 11 o’clock and were home by 2. Dr. Tupper came in again when he came home. He saw I was very ill indeed. All day Saturday I never raised my head from the pillow, only to take the medicine or gargle my throat. Yesterday morning it broke, it still remains very sore. The Doctor has just been here and he says I shall be quite well in a few days. I hope so for there are two or three Balls and parties this week, one ‘at Home’ at Government House on Friday night and a party at Mde. Tessiers [Lady of the Speaker of the Legislature] on Wednesday. Papa and Mamma have gone out to make some visits. Mr. Crowthers has just called and left a comic newspaper with his compliments. He, Mr. Drinkwater, and Mr. Bernard call everyday to enquire for me. The Ball [The Governor’s Ball at Government House, also known as Spencer Wood, now Parc du Bois-d-Coulonge] on Friday, October 14] I believe was rather a failure as far as the delegates are concerned. The Quebec People never introduced the ladies nor gentlemen to any partners nor never seen whether they had any supper or not [emphasis mine]. The Col Grays [Col John Hamilton Gray, Premier of PEI, and John Hamilton Gray, a lawyer and former Premier of New Brunswick.] are both rather indignant at the way their daughters were treated. Miss Gray and Miss Tupper came to see me this morning. They came to the conclusion I had not missed much yet. ...”

Edward Whelan says differently though:

In his The Union of the British Provinces: A brief account of the several conferences held in the Maritime provinces and in Canada, in September and October, 1864, ...  online  (the book is short, the title though ...)  however says “On the evening of the 14th a very brilliant Ball was given in the Parliament Buildings, under the auspices of the Canadian Ministry. It was attended by the same classes – the same distinguished persons and society as attended the “Drawing Room” on the 11th. [Remember Mercy thought this was quite tiresome as well.] His Excellency the Governor General [Lord Monck], His Excellency the Lieut. Governor of Nova Scotia and Lady, the Members of the Canadian Government, the Delegates from the Eastern Provinces, and about 800 others, formed a large and most agreeable party, by whom the pleasures of the dance were kept up without interruption and without an incident [?!] to mar the harmony of the occasion, until nearly 3 o’clock on the morning of the 15th.”

I guess it depends on your perspective, and who you might be trying to impress. Whelan’s book was compiled after the conferences and the speeches were written out by the delegates after the fact.

Re the New Brunswick John Hamilton Gray, I can find no mention him being married, or having a daughter, even in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography On line . As the unmarried daughters and sisters of the delegates went along to well, get to meet the unmarried men of the rest of the country, it’s unfortunate that there is no record of what happened to them, aside from in some family histories perhaps.

It is interesting to think about what happened to these lost “Daughters of Confederation”. I won’t give away quite yet what became of Mercy Coles. If people do know what became of their great great great great(?) aunts and grandmothers who went to Quebec for the confederation conference of October 1864 perhaps they could let me know and I’ll post updates.

There are endless interesting aspects of the conference and the mixing of the social with the political agendas. To read more of the rest of the week to Friday October 21, 1864

 “Tuesday Afternoon [October 18]
            I am sure I shall know the shape of every shingle on the roof of the old house opposite.” Mercy was quite sick and unable to leave her room aside from a half hour here or there for some days. She kept in touch with what was going on though – seeing the “invitations from the Bachelors of Quebec to a Ball at the Provincial Building on Friday evening. We are also invited to a party tomorrow evening. I hope I shall be able to go.” [But she wasn’t. She was sick with diphtheria and was not really better until Wednesday Oct 26 – and they left Quebec City Thursday Oct 27. The weather can’t have helped.] It’s [Quebec] the most miserable place to live in one can fancy. We have not had one fine day ever since we came. It has been pouring just a few minutes ago. Such dumpy, draggled frail women they have here. I have just seen one go by with a handsome embroidered skirt over a red one. Her white one an inch thick with mud. ...
Wednesday Afternoon
      In bed again the whole day. [Her throat was worse and Dr. Tupper ‘opened’ it again – this seems to mean that he cut it open. She had to hold ice in her mouth all night.] ...

Thursday Morning
     In bed yet. ... They had a great Ball last night at Mde Tessiers. Papa came home with every stitch of clothes wringing wet with perspiration. He says he never had such a time. The French ladies are the very mischief for flying round. John A and he saw Mde. Duval and her daughter home. ...”

And this – tying it back to the conference goings on, is the day, the night as the delegates met till 10 that evening, that the Islanders voted against the resolution of representation by population ‘rep by pop’, which had already been more or less agreed upon in Charlottetown (from 1867 How the Fathers Made a Deal, p13 - 114). So even though Coles would likely have been upset with Macdonald, and vice versa, they were out together. Why? Because Macdonald was so charming? Because Coles hoped for better? Because - ?

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fact and Fiction Mercy Coles and John A Macdonald

October 1864 is when the Fathers of Confederation met in Quebec to create the 72 resolutions that make up the BNA Act of Canada's constitution - they took along their unmarried daughters and sisters too. Mercy Coles wrote of the events in her diary - I used it in creating her character in my novel and used the timeline to help structure the novel. On Wed Oct 26 she writes of John A at dinner with her - read that note here on my posting on Christopher Moore's history blog


When they all returned to their seats the conversation
continued, a little louder, more merry. They talked of
the tour ahead, of Montreal and Ottawa. Of the trip around
the lake, through Kingston and Toronto and on to the Falls of
Niagara. Everyone talked eagerly, looking forward to the trip.
Mercy was eating new potatoes, the taste of home, the first
time she’d enjoyed eating anything in the past two weeks. The
two of them, Mercy and John A, still connected in the dance,
a shift in one causing a change in the position of the other.
A synchronicity of movement though they were turned away
from each other and talked to the people beside them. Mercy
felt how every subtle movement in her changed him, knowing,
with an edge of thrill, that if she were to stand now and leave,
he would follow.

As dinner ended they moved to the drawing room, the
women first as the men lingered behind talking. Mercy sat on
the blue couch by the fire, a silk cushion at her back. She felt
a draft of night air come in through the window; the damp of
it mixed with the smell of the wood smoke in the small room.
Macdonald was the first to enter the room. He walked over to
her bringing her dessert. As if he ought to do it, as if he always
would do it.

He sat with the men and poured himself a drink. The talks
were over, Mowat finished with his finances. Seventy-two
resolutions, the draft completed. Next the tour to convince
the people. He rested back into his chair. He liked the smell
of damp wood, the same as the smell of night in the trees by
his lake and the wet leaves of fall at home. Here it was nearly
winter, rain becoming snow too soon in the season. They
were headed back now, towards home. He closed his eyes for
a moment, smiled. He’d stop, see Hugh John. He raised his
glass, drank.

Mercy sat silent holding her plate. She wished she could
take off her gloves and feel the air on her skin, the coolness of
the fork against her palm, the texture of the plate. She wanted
to touch, feel the air. She could feel the cushion at her back,
was conscious of how her legs touched each other under her
dress, and how her feet rested lightly on the floor, every inch
of skin aware, everything magnified. She watched a drift of
smoke rise to the ceiling, the air quivering in the damp. She
sat eating her cake. There was a crumb at the corner of her
mouth. Raising her hand, she dusted the crumb away, leaving
lemon sugar on her lip. She licked it away, a small indelicacy,
her napkin held in her hand. And she saw Macdonald look up
at her just then, but her small tongue was out of her mouth.

John A watching, smiled as he looked away, the tip of her
tongue sweet in her mouth.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Review for To the Edge of the Sea

Politics vs. a Trip to the Circus

By Heather Allen - Penticton Western News

In September 1864, John A. Macdonald’s ship pulled into Charlottetown’s harbour. Its hold was full of champagne, ready for a great celebration. After all, Macdonald had just reached a deal that would lay the path for the confederation of Canada.

The townsfolk were in the street partying, bedecked with picnic baskets and parasols. But they weren’t interested in the upcoming conference. Only one man rowed out to greet the political guests and even he was longing to be back on shore.

It seemed the Islanders wanted to celebrate an arrival of a different sort: the circus. And who could blame them? It had been ages since a circus came north to their shores. In the 1800s, East Coast circuses travelled by ship and it was only because of the American Civil War that this one made its way north and toured Canada.

Does it seem farfetched that more people would be interested in the circus than the formation of a country?
The story is, in fact, true.

In her just-released book, To the Edge of the Sea, author Anne McDonald follows John A’s campaign to champion confederation. McDonald first learned of the circus incident on a Canadian Heritage TV commercial. Intrigued, she spent nine years extensively researching the events.

In the book, though, McDonald doesn’t just focus on the campaign. She frames the story with the blossoming romance between John A. and a young PEI woman named Mercy Coles. McDonald also inserts two fictional brothers into the story.

The first brother, Reggie, protests alongside his farming relatives, who are fed up with paying rent to the few landlords who owned most of P.E.I. The other brother, Alex, runs away with the circus. He eventually finds himself in Niagara Falls, coming face to face with the legendary tight rope walker, Farini. As it turns out, John A. and Mercy Coles also happen to make a stop in Niagara Falls.

It’s obvious that McDonald loves intriguing, obscure and humorous historical details. She includes many discovered while poring over history books, old newspapers and even a copy of Mercy Coles’ diary tucked away in the P.E.I. archives.

To the Edge of the Sea has a dream-like quality and is playfully poetic. McDonald follows a historical narrative, but is just as interested in language, symbols and metaphors. If you enjoy the writings of authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Sheila Watson, then this is an interpretation of Canadian history that you won’t want to miss. Happy Canada Day!

Heather Allen is a writer and reader who lives in Penticton.

Friday, 7 October 2011

My notes on Diarist Mercy Coles - one of main characters in my novel TO THE EDGE OF THE SEA

Mercy Coles diary (unpublished, in the National Archives of Canada) was a great source of information and also helped me to structure my novel. I loved the job of creating a character based on some real information - having to keep certain ideas in line, reading between the lines,  and most importantly following a time line - these were great structuring tools.

The Prince Edward Islanders left this week - on Wednesday October 5th to be exact, for the Quebec Conference. They went earlier than the others and went by train (and boat down the Bay of Fundy) rather than by the Canadians steamship The Queen Victoria which the Canadians sent for the rest. I'm not sure why the PE Islanders didn't go by ship with the others or why they went earlier (though I speculate why in the novel).

I've posted some of Mercy Coles's diary here on Christopher Moore's History News Blog

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

To the Edge of the Sea Book Review

Latest book review by Bill Robertson for the Saskatoon Star Phoenix

To the Edge of the Sea a blend of fiction, Canadiana

Regina writer's debut uses fiction, real life

Regina writer Anne McDonald leans on memories of her childhood summers on Prince Edward Island in her first novel, To the Edge of the Sea. In it, she makes fiction of the actual lives of people both close to, and not at all associated with, the negotiations in Charlottetown, Quebec City and Kingston to forge a confederation of what would become the provinces of Canada.
Reggie, the eldest son, loathes life on the sea, is made physically ill by it, and wants to be a farmer. He defies his father, already bereft of a son, and joins his farmer uncles as they gather to march in defiance of their landlords who bleed off their profits. Here are politics at a local and even violent level.

[McDonald's] strength lies in imagining three young people with vastly different ambitions at a crucial time in Canada's history. And that history is nearly incidental to all their desires. What excites McDonald, and what she conveys, is the sensual excitement these people feel when they touch something they love.

She may be falling in love, but it's the rain falling on Mercy's bare head one night as she marches with the people that thrills her. Reggie loves the feel of the red Prince Edward Island earth and Alex loves the feel of air, how he can train himself to move through it, even lean against it. Whatever their politics - national, local or family - these are elemental people and McDonald has found what they're made of and what they need to hold to.
Read more

Friday, 2 September 2011

CBC Readers Choice Contest for the Giller

The Grand Prize winner of the CBC Readers Choice Contest has just been announced - and they nominated my book, To the Edge of the Sea!

Here are a couple of comments from the CBC Contest and a link to the CBC Grand Prize Winner Contest   Congratulations Helen!

I love history and To the Edge of the Sea has inspired me to want to read Mercy Cole's diaries. The book kept me turning the pages to the very end. The characters were interesting and amazing with a twist at the end I had not expected. Sir John A. Macdonald (who has on his tombstone in London, England "A British subject I was born and a British subject I will die" was made more real to me. A strange Epitaph for the Father of Confederation I always thought. Great book, great cover, great bookmark. Loved it all.    

A blend of poetic technique combined with page-turning, cliffhanging narrative, this novel evokes a seminal period in Canadian history - a time, I might add, that few Canadians know much about. McDonald's prose is fluid and meticulous, the equivalent of sunlight shimmering on the sea, as it illuminates her characters' inner struggles and triumphs. Lyrical, finely crafted descriptions abound, and every page offers the thrill of experiencing a vanished world via the author's unique sensibility.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Theatricals and Spectacles - Canada's Parties

The first circus to Prince Edward Island in 20 years coincided with the arrival of the Fathers of Confederation in Charlottetown on this day, September 1st, 1864.

"The most beautiful Equestrians,
The most accomplished Riders,
The most daring Acrobats,
The finest stud of Horses,
The most learned Dogs and
the most comical Monkeys"

     I wonder what they would have said about the delegates?

To total indifference - see the story on my posting on Christopher Moore's History Blog

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A cartoon about John A and George Brown - true and too funny

In Christopher Moore's History News Blog he has Kate Beaton's comic on John A and George Brown. Quill and Quire have a report on her recent winning of the Harvey Award for comics and sequential art. She has done lots of history comics and is originally from Canada - Cape Breton. Check out her website and Chris' note on her.  
My own take on George Brown from The Moment of Our Conceptions: Canada and Me (a manuscript in progress) follows.

Kate Beaton's site:    Scroll down and see the famous photograph and Kate's history notes on the day the picture was taken - Charlottetown, September 1864, many of the Fathers of Confederation hungover as she points out (that's because of their $13,000 worth of champagne they had on their boat).

 -- from The Moment of Our Conceptions: Canada and Me  Anne McDonald

The Fathers of Confederation, twenty-three all together, what a surprise, always thinking there were twelve, like the apostles. All the writers dead and no one left to write for real of the conception of Canada. Canada my religion, Canada my soul.

George Brown

A man of principles – bigot, racist, political idealist. Founder of the Globe, Canada’s national paper now, married at 44 breathing new life into him, making him less crotchety – died of a wound in his leg he didn’t get looked after gotten in a duel – how crotchety is that?

CBC Readers Choice Contest for the Giller Prize - some of the nominations for To the Edge of the Sea

Lovely comments that say what the book is about even better than I have myself. Thanks to all who posted and voted!

Anne McDonald's To the Edge of the Sea is the best book I've read in ages. A thoroughly Canadian novel, it tells the story of Confederation, with John A. Macdonald as one of its central characters. While some of the characters are historical figures, others are fictional. The latter include two brothers, Reggie and Alex, sons of a fisherman, both of whom want more out of life than following in their father's footsteps. Their stories are interwoven with those of John A. Macdonald and Mercy Coles, another historical figure who, in the novel, wants to escape the strictures of Charlottetown high society. The result is a narrative that celebrates thinking differently or unconventionally-the kind of creative thinking that led to Confederation. The four stories are linked not only by coincidence of time and place, but also figuratively, with, for example, Alex's stint as a tightrope artist serving as a metaphor for the balancing act performed by John A. Macdonald during the Confederation negotiations. In his personal life, however, the hard-drinking John A. is not so sure-footed. Beautifully written, To the Edge of the Sea should certainly make it to this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist-and further.   by Florence

In To the Edge of the Sea Anne McDonald has written a gripping story fashioned around our story of confederation. Meticulously researched it gives insight into how we came to be the country that we are as we ride the waves with her characters. With her unique writing style she teaches us our own history that we surprisingly know so little about. It not only deserves the richest Canadian literary prize, it needs to be read by every Canadian student in our schools.   by Carol

You can read all of the nominations on the CBC Readers Choice Page. And stay tuned for the big announcement of the Grand Prize winner of the trip for 2 to the Giller on Friday September 2, and the winner of the Readers Choice on Sept 6!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Readings, news, voting!! and more

Literary Democracy

The ScotiaBank Giller Prize is adding a Readers Choice Contest through CBC - you can win pretty cool prizes just for entering! You choose a book to vote for and write a sentence or 2 about why you are voting for it. Mine is one of the choices.

The link is below to get to the CBC page with the info and link to voting. The deadline is Aug 28 - you have more chances of winning prizes the sooner you enter though. Perhaps you will consider voting for To the Edge of the Sea by yours truly. Or there are a whole raft of wonderful books - and great prizes.

Much thanks and happy voting!

Burlington Launches! 2 Niagara Escarpment ex-pats, 2 Anne Elizabeths

  Anne (E) Perdue reads from her new short story collection, I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, and Anne (E) McDonald reads from her new novel, To the Edge of the Sea at A Different Drummer Bookstore in downtown Burlington, 531 Locust Street, Thurs Aug 25, 7:00 - 8:30. Books, signing, the whole bit! Come out and celebrate new fiction from the former escarpment ites!

“An interpretation of Canadian history that you won’t want to miss!” Western News

“ a wickedly funny representation of bad things happening to decent people” This Magazine

Farini at Niagara Falls (in 1864 that is) - my latest on Christopher Moore's History News

How different is it from today? Well mind you, Farini was allowed to do what he wanted at Niagara Falls, it was Momorency Falls in Quebec that he was turned down at, or maybe it was because of who he planned to take with him.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Festival of Words Launch of To the Edge of the Sea

On an appropriately hot and sultry day in Moose Jaw at the Festival of Words, Sat July 16, 2011, John A and I had our official launch. The crowd sang merrily to the Canadian Boat Song as John Lent and David Sealy led them on. Many thanks to all who came out, to Donna Lee and Sarah of the Festival of Words, and John Lent for doing triple duty: editor, introducer, choir master.
      Many thanks to Shelley Banks for the photos - and wait for the live singing to be posted soon!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dragonflies in my backyard

My friend Shelley has posted some pictures and notes on our Regina dragonflies, some in my backyard and some in hers. Lovely breezy summer day on the Prairies.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Latest news and updates on To the Edge of the Sea

Here are the latest reviews and notables and news on the novel that I thought you may be interested in.

The book will have its official launch at the Festival of Words in Moose Jaw on Saturday July 16 at 5:00 p.m. in the Upper Lobby of the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre, 217 Main Street North, above the Mae Wilson Theatre.
Each year the Festival launches a new book and this year it will be To the Edge of the Sea. The Launch is a free event and there will be refreshments, books to buy, signing and even singing, not necessarily in that order.

To the Edge of the Sea was also just posted as New and Notable for Canada in Belletrista which celebrates literature written by or about women writers from around the world.

Heather Allen of the Penticton Western News said It’s obvious that McDonald loves intriguing, obscure and humorous historical details. She includes many discovered while poring over history books, old newspapers and even a copy of Mercy Coles’ diary tucked away in the P.E.I. archives.    
       To the Edge of the Sea has a dream-like quality and is playfully poetic. McDonald follows a historical narrative, but is just as interested in language, symbols and metaphors. If you enjoy the writings of authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Sheila Watson, then this is an interpretation of Canadian history that you won’t want to miss.”

Bev Green of Prairie Books Now said, “I was particularly taken with the cinematic quality of the novel and the vividness of its setting. Kudos to you for capturing this important story in our country's history!”  Bev’s whole review will be available latter in July.

Christopher Moore, who has written about Canadian history for many years and won both the Governor Generals Award and the Mr. Christie award, has blogged my novel and points out that I have used the well known diarist Mercy Ann Coles as one of my main characters.
     It was a thrill to meet Chris Moore at The Writers Union of Canada Conference and AGM in May as I used his nonfiction book, 1867 How the Fathers Made a Deal as one of my constant reference books.

I have begun to do some blogging on Christopher Moore’s History Blog – on my latest interest – Expo ’67. Don’t think I’ll ever lose sight of 1864 and 1867 though! Check out the cake (thanks to my intrepid mother, Audrey McDonald)!

I’ll have a Author page up shortly (as soon as they fix the spelling of my name ... ahh the many ways and permutations that one can spell and combine Anne and McDonald, with ‘e’s and without, with ‘a’s and without, capitals or not ... ).

That’s the news so far!

Monday, 13 June 2011

John A is on the move! To the Edge of the Sea BC book tour

John A. Macdonald heads to Penticton June 16, Kelowna June 17, Vancouver June 20 and 21, and Victoria. To the edge of the sea for To the Edge of the Sea, a Novel by Anne McDonald.

Penticton        Hooked on Books, Thurs June 16, 7:00
                        225 Main Street, Penticton

Kelowna         Mosaic Books   Friday June 17, 1:00 Signing
                        411 Bernard St, Kelowna

Vancouver    CafĂ© Montmartre  Tues June 21, 7:30
                       4362 Main Street, Vancouver B.C.

                       iQmetrix  Monday, June 20

Victoria          tba in June

FESTIVAL OF WORDS, Moose Jaw, Sk   JULY 16, 5:00 upper lobby Cultural Centre

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Christopher Moore's History News: Book Notes: McDonald on Mercy Coles

Christopher Moore's History News: Book Notes: McDonald on Mercy Coles: "Also at the Writers' Union conference in Toronto, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne McDonald and discovering her recently published novel ..."

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Upcoming BC Book Launches

BC Book Launch Touring with John A Macdonald   To the Edge of the Sea
Readings, Signing, Singing

Penticton      Thursday June 16  7:00
Hooked on Books
225 Main Street

Kelowna        Friday June 17
Mosaic Books

Here is the notice for the upcoming Vancouver Launch of To the Edge of the Sea and Yvonne Blomer's and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham's new poetry collections at Cafe Montmartre Tues June 21. Two poets and a poetic novel from the east and the west.

Tues June 21    7:30

Cafe Monmartre
4362 Main Street
with Yvonne Blomer and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham

Monday, 9 May 2011

Upcoming Launches in Toronto and London

Launch for To the Edge of the Sea by Anne McDonald
and Shrinking Violets by Heidi Greco 
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
5:30 to 7:00 pm
Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St North,
London, Ontario 

Please come out and help us celebrate new fiction from across the country! Readings, signings, books. Everyone welcome.

Shrinking Violets by Heidi Greco. Aside from the fact that she was born with bright orange hair, Reggie has always felt pretty ordinary. She works as a supermarket cashier, and her life as a single mother isn’t exactly what she’d wanted. But just when things start going the way she thinks they’re supposed to, she discovers that even that road isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Launch for To the Edge of the Sea by Anne McDonald
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
7:00 pm
Toronto Writers Centre
(627 Bloor St West– at Euclid between Bathurst and Christie subway stations). 
Toronto, Ontario  

“Writ large, the country takes shape beneath a nurturing hand. We’re given Sir John A and the people of a groundbreaking time. We’re given writing that is evocative, genuine and eye-opening. A worthy chair by the fire sort of read.” 
Richard Wagamese

Sunday, 1 May 2011

To the Edge of the Sea's Regina Launch

Anne McDonald reads from To the Edge of the Sea
Photo by Shelley Banks
 To the Edge of the Sea was launched to a full house at the end of April. The audience enthusiastically participated in the program which featured doorprizes, a stirring rendition of the Canadian Boat Song, PEI potato skins, and Sir John A. chocolate malt cheesecake. Check the photographs tab for more pictures of the event.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

John A Macdonald and Anne McDonald - together again

Anne McDonald and John A Macdonald go over last-minute preparations for the upcoming launch of To the Edge of the Sea at 7:30 pm on Thursday, April 28 in the Arizona Room of Regina's Bushwakker Brew Pub.

Thanks to Shelley Banks at Latitude Drifts for the photo!

Friday, 18 March 2011

The sun is shining.
The weather is unusually warm.
Island breezes – Prince Edward Island that is, are blowing.
John A, the John A, is falling in love.

The circus is in town.
Thirteen thousand dollars worth of champagne from the Canadian’s ship is being poured.
Late lunches of island delicacies abound and “ … the ice was broken and the wooing began,” as George Brown, founder of the Globe and Mail proclaimed.

Farini, the tightrope walker from Port Hope Ontario, in a daredevil stilt walk along the top of Niagara Falls, will be stuck on Goat’s Island above the American falls.

“Writ large, the country takes shape beneath a nurturing hand. We’re given Sir John A and the people of a groundbreaking time. We’re given writing that is evocative, genuine and eye-opening. A worthy chair by the fire sort of read.”
Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Party Launch in Regina Thurs, April 28

To the Edge of the Sea Party Launch
7:30 pm, Thursday April 28, 2011
Arizona Room at Bushwakker Brew Pub
2206 Dewdney Ave
Regina, Saskatchewan 

Help me celebrate the arrival of To the Edge of the Sea! Copies of the book will be available.

Please check back for news about readings in London and Toronto this May.

Friday, 11 March 2011

A Night of Poetry and Film April 14, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Doors open 7:30 pm, event starts at 7:45 pm
The Filmpool
301- 1822 Scarth Street (across from the Globe Theatre)
Poets Bruce Rice, Bernadette Wagner and Anne McDonald
Filmmakers Adrian Dean, Jon Tewksbury and Jason Shabatoski

Friday, 4 March 2011

Available soon!

To the Edge of the Sea by Anne McDonald will be in stores on March 31, 2011.