Thursday, 12 October 2017

William Notman, 'Canada's Most Successful Photographer'

William Notman 'Canada's most successful photographer'

*** This is a blogpost from a few years ago, but it came up again and I wanted to share it, especially as Mercy Coles writes of Notman and I write in more detail about him in Miss Confederation just published with Dundurn Press in June 2017.
On CBC Radio this eve (Oct 12, 2012) Part One on William Notman - famous photographer of, among other things - the eighth wonder of the world, or the Victoria Bridge in Montreal (for example), and the Fathers, and daughters, of Confederation.

 From CBC Idea's website:
"He [Notman] arrived in Montreal in 1856 as a fugitive from the law. He became Canada's most successful photographer. A rare combination of canny businessman and master craftsman, William Notman embraced the wondrous new medium of photography and left us a unique record of Canada's social history. A portrait by Montreal writer Elaine Kalman Naves.  ...

On the lam from the law, William Notman remade himself in Montreal.  He saw his chance and quickly mastered the brand new art of photography. His timing couldn't have been better.  Fascination with the astonishing new medium was sweeping Europe and North America - never before had it been possible to create a permanent image without an artist's pencil or paintbrush or engraver's tools.  Eventually, William Notman would own the largest photography business in North America ... "
      And to the 'Daughters' of Confederation:

Mercy Coles, who I wrote about last fall at this time (here and about weekly through November 2011 and used in my novel To the Edge of the Sea, was the charming, beautiful and unmarried 26 year old daughter of Prince Edward Island delegate and Father of Confederation George Coles. She kept a diary of her trip to Quebec for the Confederation conference of 1864 and subsequent tour of the Canadas. Their first stop after the conference was Montreal. There she writes of her visit to William Notman's studio to have her photograph taken.

Saturday October 29, 1864 continued:
“ ... Ma and I have just been to the Convent Congregation Notre Dame. Mr. McDonald (stutterer) came and took Mamma and I. I have just come from Notman’s. My photograph was not good I don’t think, so I would not take it however the man said he would send me two dozen to the Island. ...”

        The CBC link has good pictures and a link to the McCord Museum in Montreal which has a phenomenal collection of pictures, videos and information on Notman and his work, (regardless of what Mercy Coles thought of her photo).
 UPDATE Oct 12, 2017  - this is a link to an article by Elaine Kalman Naves on her website - great and informative piece here

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Most Anticipated Fall Non-fiction 49th Shelf

Very happy that Miss Confederation The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles, is included in the 49th Shelf's Most Anticipated Fall Non-fiction Preview
Miss Confederationwas published by Dundurn Press in late June so it's (she's?) out already. As the 49th Shelf points out, this is the story of Canada, as it talks of Confederation, from the very rarely heard, woman's point of view.
 "In Miss Confederation (June), Anne McDonald, through the diaries of Mercy Anne Coles, takes readers through the social whirlwind of Canada’s confederation from a (rarely depicted!) woman’s point of view."
      Mercy Coles' story is both a depiction of Canada as it was in 1864, and also of the creation of a self-identity of a young woman at a pivotal time in both Canada's history and that of the United States. Of course, the whole story of Confederation and Canada's 150 right now is a whole mixture of ideas and emotions. It is incredibly important that we hear what Mercy Coles had to say about it all at the time - primary documents are crucial to our understanding of the past.

There are many more great non-fiction books the 49th Shelf has profiled here. Ones I'm particularly looking forward to include, (from the end of their post to the beginning):
- b/c I love comedy and irreverence, and a female point of view - "What I Think Happened (October), the debut book by comedian Evany Rosen, is really two books: a no-holds-barred romp through the history of the western world, and the personal story of a self-described "failed academic" who recasts historiography from a feminist perspective—albeit an underqualified and overconfident one."
-b/c I love food and who on the Prairies could turn their nose up at the mention of Hawkins Cheezies "Janis Thiessen’s Snacks: A Canadian Food History (September) chronicles the history of Canadian snacks including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and Ganong, and unwraps a social history of junk food."
-b/c yep, I want to figure out how to make Canada work "Graham Steele, whose What I Learned About Politics was nominated for the 2015 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, returns with a new insiders’ guide to Canadian politics, The Effective Citizen: How to Make Politicians Work For You (September)."
-b/c the stories help create change which is so desperately needed - "In Seven Fallen Feathers (September), focusing on the lives of seven Indigenous young people who died in the city of Thunder Bay between 2000-2011, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against indigenous communities."
- b/c it's a story of what is not known -  "Hunting the Northern Character (November) not only tracks former Yukon Premier Tony Penikett's footsteps in his hunt for a northern identity but tells the story of an Arctic that the world does not yet know.
-b/c it is 2017 - "In My Conversations With Canadians (September), “the book that Canada 150 needs” Lee Maracle engages with questions that are too big to answer, but not too big to contemplate."
-b/c the essence of childhood is life itself - " JonArno Lawson, whose work includes the award-winning wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, playfully examines our understanding of childhood in But It’s So Silly (September)."
- b/c it looks at the importance of women's letters, diaries and writing - ie back to the top and Mercy Coles -  "Sheila Johnson Kindred's Jane Austen's Transatlantic Sister (October) is a  is a rich new source for Jane Austen scholars and fans of her fiction as well as for those interested in biography, women’s letters, and history of the family.
- b/c I admire and read everything Helen Humphrey writes, and I also love apples, and serendipitous finds -  "Helen Humphreys explores the history of the apple in North America in The Ghost Orchard (September), a fascinating journey into the secret history of an everyday food."
- b/c Neilsen Glenn's writing is always so illuminating, and again, the story is of women and their unheard voices/stories -  "Poet and essayist Lorri Neilsen Glenn works to unravel issues of racism, sexism, and colonial nation-building in Following the River: Traces of the Red River Women (November), which explores her Indigenous roots and haunting family secrets."
- b/c it's a discovery of Canada - "In A Newfoundlander in Canada (October), Alan Doyle tells his story of leaving Newfoundland and discovering Canada for the first time."
- b/c, well, it is about love and the search for it - and back to the top and Mercy Coles again -  "Essayist Mandy Len Catron’s debut is the collection How to Fall In Love With Anyone (June), a candid examination of what it means to love and be loved."
- both of these b/c they're both Regina and the world together -- "Ven Begamudr√© traces the history of both sides of his family in Extended Families: A Memoir of India (September). In The World's Most Travelled Man (October), Mike Spencer Bown shares stories from his decades of wandering, voyaging and trekking through every single country in the world."

There are many more fascinating books listed here too - bring on Canadian writers and writing and Canadian stories, and yes, especially female ones.  
      You can follow, and join, the 49th Shelf to keep in the loop about Canadian writing - Here
 You can also rate and review Miss Confederation yourself, or any of the other books too


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo

My Goodreads Review
Lincoln in the Bardo is both lovely and a marvel. The history is fascinating and the presentation of it is stylistically impressive. The book is life-affirming and if you have or are suffering from grief, the story is consoling. <br />I found the history fascinating b/c I've been researching some of the Civil War for my book on Mercy Coles's diary. (Miss Confederation The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles -- the young woman who accompanied her father, George Coles, one of the PEI Fathers of Confederation, to the talks on Confederation in 1864. She and her parents travel back thru the northern US in Nov - when Lincoln was re-elected and when General Sherman started his infamous March to the Sea. So it was really interesting for me to read more of the time period and the people and places of the Civil War.)

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Christopher Moore's History News: Book Notes: Miss Confederation, the Mercy Coles d...

First heard of the Mercy Coles Confederation diary on CBC Radio Ideas - I was researching for my novel To the Edge of the Sea and when I heard of Mercy Coles, she immediately became a character in that novel.  I ordered the diary from Library and Archives Canada, read, researched wrote ...   and then I began transcribing every word of Mercy's diary - and was fascinated by all she wrote. And now - here's Miss Confederation: The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles, published by Dundurn Press and out now!

The person on Ideas was Christopher Moore - and here's the lovely things he's got to say about Miss Confederation:

Christopher Moore's History News: Book Notes: Miss Confederation, the Mercy Coles d...: Mercy Anne Coles -- the Jane Austen of confederation, maybe. Newly out from Dundurn Press is Miss Confederation , Anne McDonald's edi...

Miss Confederation

Monday, 19 June 2017

PEI on Flickr thanks to the LAC

Library and Archives Canada has posted some great images of Prince Edward Island on their Flickr page.
   Interesting to preview as Miss Confederation: The Diary of Mercy Anne Coles, published by Dundurn Press is out this week. Mercy Coles was the 26 year old unmarried daughter of the PEI Father of Confederation George Coles. She, along with 9 other unmarried daughters of the Maritime Fathers of Confederation, went to the Confederation Conference in Quebec City - Mercy kept a diary of the events, people and time. Her diary has never been published before - until now!
   It was fascinating to research and I'll write more on that later.
        For now, it's fun to share the images she would have been part of (or some of them) - for example, there's no doubt she would have attended the events for the visit of the Prince of Wales to Government House in 1860  Visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales 1860 to Charlottetown, PEI

For all the pictures, click here

Mercy Coles (photo by William Notman) and the Province House Ball (painting by Dusan Kadlec)