Frank Mackay

March 2019

You reach the age that I’m at and you get used to having people you know pass away. It’s simply a part of life.

But last Wednesday, March 6, sitting on my bed in a Charlottetown hotel after a very long and busy day, I took my phone in hand to see if there were any emails I should read. The one I read from Eleanor Norrie stunned me. Frank MacKay, the legendary singer of the Lincolns and Soma and various plays, had undergone four hours of surgery after a heart attack and it wasn’t looking good. I couldn’t believe it.

And then Eleanor wrote again to tell me Frank was gone.

For me and thousands more who loved The Lincolns back in the 1960s, Frank MacKay was the essence of energy and vitality. And so he remained, including at the September 2018 reunion dances. The clock had seemingly rolled back fifty years. Frank’s voice and spirit were as full and powerful as ever. Six months later, that force of life was gone.

In late 2018 and early 2019, I sat down with Frank a couple of times to ask about his memories of Lincolns part of his life—for the book I’m writing. He was generous with his time and recollections, and keen to share anything he could. More than that, he responded to my requests for more information by writing about different chapters of his life, so I could extract what I needed. It was rich material.

My last request of Frank was that he consider writing the Afterword for the book. He agreed, and he sent me that work-in-progress one week before he died. It was not finished yet, but it was personal and moving. Frank said he thought it needed another few paragraphs. His focus was on how The Lincolns had likely saved his life. I don’t know if Frank went back to that text or not in the last week of his life. I’d like to think he did, that he had said exactly what he wanted to.

Here are three of the many photos I’ve collected over the last six months as I work on Dreams to Remember: The Life and Times of The Lincolns, Nova Scotia’s Legendary 1960s Band. Another departed Lincoln appears here as well, lead guitarist Frank Mumford.

Review of The Hat

December 2018

In the Chronicle Herald of Dec. 17, 2018, Brendan Ahern offers a review of my YA novel, The Hat. The reviewer got a few things wrong, like my initials, but overall I thought he did a good job. My only big regret is that the paper did not include an image of the cover of the book. So I’m putting one here.

https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/living/the-novascotian/historian-and-author-abj-johnston-has-a-new-take-on-the-deportation-of-the-acadians-268054/

The Hat - book cover by Lio Lo

Cape Breton Christmas

December 2018

I am one of many writers to have a short piece in the newly published Cape Breton Christmas, No. 5, edited by Ron Caplan. All stories are short; mine is three pages.

Giving Books?

December 2018

I am delighted to see my coming-of-age novel Something True featured in the Cape Breton Catalogue. Copies can be ordered from Cape Breton Books, or picked up at Woozles in Halifax, the Colchester Historeum in Truro and the Cape Breton Curiosity Shop in Sydney. Or via Amazon.

VR and the Fortress

November 2018

I am equal parts intrigued and excited—to be asked to contribute to a Virtual Reality project on the Fortress of Louisbourg. Looking forward to learning more about that possibility in the days ahead.

Cape Breton Catalogue

November 2018

I am super pleased to see “Something True,” my novel about Katharine McLennan’s coming-of-age story, to be on the front cover mix of the Cape Breton Magazine’s 2018 gift catalogue. Thank you, Ron Caplan!

Something True (cover)