Archive for the ‘Landscape’ Category

Well, the start of a new season on the Rideau-so what’s new?

For those who may have heard of the short season being imposed this year, be philosophical. As the book tells the story, this has happened before in living memory. As a matter of fact, that great organization, the Friends of the Rideau, was born from the desire of those Rideau-philes and local settlers’ descendants to see the beloved canal preserved.

The whole thing is in the book !!

The Landscape Strategy is “rapidly” (a joke, son) creeping up on the same schedule, i.e., it may take as long to complete as it did to build the canal in the first place. And imagine if you will, that public input has been restricted, so that it can’t hamper progress ! It isn’t clear what the problems are that are causing the glacial pace, and we probably don’t want to know.


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Himself !!!

Well, I was out at Read’s Book Shop in Carleton Place the other day, signing books and talking to people. I find it stimulating to meet readers, and to explain what has moved me to write about the Rideau Canal and the men and women who have kept it alive for almost 180 years.

In that light, the current government squeeze is depressingly familiar – that has been an invariable part of the history of the canal – “do more with less, charge more for less”. Pile on the bureaucracy, spout lofty inanities about the priceless heritage of Canadian parks, but don’t spend any money on it. Sigh …

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Himself !!!

Well, I’ve started looking into the possibilities of converting some of my books into electronic formats that could be read on Kindles, Nooks, Kobo, iPads, and so on. There is a wealth of software (mostly free) out there – how to decide between the freebies and the paid programs. I have the impression that the free stuff is often “good enough”, but I’m not sure.

I guess what I will have to do is try converting something small and seeing what the experience is like from the production side. Testing such an “ebook” will give me some sense of how it looks in the real world.
If the “free” stuff doesn’t measure up, then I can consider paying (ugh!). It’s still a lot cheaper than paying Adobe, that still doesn’t guarantee a smooth and painless experience.
If anyone out there has any experience or views on creating ebooks or simply reading them, I’d be interested in hearing about it.
I’ll be going off to Johnny Pigeau’s Reading Series at Backbeat Books in Perth this coming Friday. This session is on novels – earlier sessions have been on poetry (and most enjoyable). Things have certainly moved right along since Worsdworth and Frost.

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Himself !!!

I came, I saw, I was blown away (to paraphrase some famous Roman)!!!

This fair has been going on for ever, since Pontius was a pilot. Anyway ….
I was there selling and signing my three books at the Writers’ Corner in the Public Library – I was able to make contact with some of the former guides, like Thea Fleming, and boat builders, like Charlie Cliffe ( through his daughter).
A number of people with family histories working on the Rideau Canal came to talk to me about the new book, Invisible Army. I loved it !!!!
Next year for sure and a tip of the hat to Margaret Brandt and her article in the Review-Mirror that alerted people to the Fair and to the fact that I was going to be there. It made all the difference in the world, I’m sure.
BTW, Lyndhurst has a brand new main street now, so if you haven’t been there in a while, or, even worse, have never managed to go there, this pretty village is sure worth the visit. It’s off COunty Road 43, about 10 minutes south of Delta, and can also be reached from Highway 15 through Morton ( Briar Hill Road). It has a very picturesque stone bridge as well.
With autumn leaves beginning to turn, plan a drive that takes you through Lyndhurst – you’ll be glad you did.

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Take a look at the new page that I added, called The Good Old Days.

It gives us some insight into living conditions in the Rideau Corridor in the 1840s.  “Ansley’s Mills” is now Battersea, not so far from Brewers Upper and Lower Mills lock stations.

I plan to add other pages over time in order to illustrate just what the “good old days” were really like, for both city and country living. And … the examples will be based on eyewitness accounts and planned actions of local administrations: for example, there were constant struggles to get usable roads built. The example used here is no exaggeration.

Always open to comments, questions, etc.

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Well, I have three talks to give to community groups in the next few months. The first one is on Sunday, February 20th, in Merrickville. The Historical Society and the Heritage Society are jointly sponsoring the talk.
The second talk is in Kemptville in early March. This is as part of a “Local Authors” panel.
The third talk is in May in Brockville to the local Genealogical Society.

Actually, there is a fourth talk scheduled for November in Ottawa to the Ottawa Historical Society, but that’s so far away that I’m not really focussing on it at the moment.

For a theme, I’m using “Lemonade from Lemons”. The notion is that the Rideau Canal has been generally regarded as pretty much of a failure since its opening back in 1832. It was seen as a military failure – never used; a commercial failure – not a lot of commercial traffic; a failure as a catalyst for growth in the Rideau Corridor. I argue that it was actually reasonably successful in ways that were not foreseen.

A “slack water” canal is all about water management – mitigating floods in the spring with droughts in the summer – the “navigation” was the prime directive for the canal staff. The growth of tourism and guiding linked the rise of the “back to nature” movement in the northern US with all the “nature” available in the Rideau Corridor – especially the area between Battersea and Smiths Falls. There was excellent boating and fishing  provided by the flooding associated with the “slack water” nature of the canal. In fact, it was precisely the spread of tourism, resorts, cottages, and boating that provided the ultimate necessity of maintaining the water management function. The fact that the “beancounters” had refused to update the technology over the decades simply added to the attractiveness of the canal and ultimately “guaranteed” the World Heritage status that it enjoys today.

So …. in a serendipitous way, the canal staff made the resorts and guiding profession possible and the success of the guiding and tourism made the survival of the canal staff and the canal possible. Funny how things work out, eh?

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Covers v3-3c FINAL

Take a look at the final cover for Invisible Army!

(Ignore the printer’s marks)

Sets the right mood/image for the incredible story of the men and women who maintained and operated the Rideau Canal since 1832. Gone,but not forgotten  —  now.

I hope to have the book itself in local bookstores in the next few weeks, Chapters – Byward Market – has agreed to stock it. I’ll be canvassing other local bookstores to pick up this great local story.

If you have a favourite bookstore that you think might be a good candidate for this book, let me know. The Friends of the Rideau will be grateful.

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