Seasell, Boston, 1987

January 2022

I worked at the Fortress of Louisbourg NHS for 23 years, and occasionally took part in some unusual events or activities.

In 1987, a bunch of us—employees and volunteers—participated in Seasell, a Nova Scotia tourism marketing venture that sailed to Boston aboard the Scotia Prince. The trip had many memorable moments from start to end, from the mystery meat to nearly freezing in our bunks to top-notch musical entertainment.

Once the gang got to Boston it was time to don our various Fortress costumes and talk to media and potential visitors to NS. The thinking was apparently that if Bostonians saw people dressed as we were—as 18th-century inhabitants of Louisbourg—they would want to vacation in NS and come see the Fortress. I have no idea how well that approach worked. In retrospect, it seems like a lot of wishful thinking.

One photo taken by a Boston Globe photographer ended up prominently displayed in the paper. That was the photo of Mary Topshee (aka mon épouse) and Edward Storm.

On one outing away from the ship a bunch of us in Fortress costumes took taxis to Louisburg Square where we were again well photographed. In one of those shots, seen below, Mary and I are coming down some steps—of the onetime home of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women—while Valerie Hunt, Don Tryon and Theresa Boone look on.

These photos turned up in a photo album as Mary and I continue to sort through stuff that needs to be sorted before we sell our house in Halifax (which is having an unprecedented real estate boom) and move into an apartment.

The Boston trip reminds me of a couple of others I went on while working with Parks Canada. In those instances I dressed up as Samuel de Champlain. I know! One time was in Manhattan, another in Miami Beach.

I wonder if Tourism people still think wearing period costumes attracts tourists?

Short Excerpt

January 2022

One of life’s great pleasures—up there with wine and cheese and a warm baguette—is hearing from readers who are enjoying one of your books.That happened to me yesterday, when a reader of Ancient Land, New Land reached out to tell me how much she was enjoying different aspects of the latest book Jesse Francis and I have authored, about Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst on PEI. The book is published by Acorn Press.

Out of privacy concerns I’ll not reveal the reader’s identity (other than to say it was my sister). I shall call her Elinor rather than keep saying the reader.

One part of the story Elinor found especially interesting was that of Robert Potier Dubuisson, who came to play a major role in the administration of the French colony of Île Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island) for more than 20 years.

Here, from page 32 of the book, is how the story of Dubuisson begins:

“Dubuisson grew up in the British colony of New York, where his father, Jean-Baptiste Poitiers (Potier) du Buisson, was an organist on Staten Island. The boy Dubuisson became fluent in Dutch and English, as well as French, which his parents spoke at home. Around 1699, when Robert was 16, the family moved to New France where the father became an organist in a Montreal church. Young Robert went to work at a variety of clerical government jobs associated with the Marine department, the part of the French government that had responsibility for both the navy and overseas colonies. Sometimes Dubuisson was employed as an interpreter as well. Robert married, but his wife died a year into their marriage, two weeks after giving birth to a baby girl. In 1719, in his late twenties, Robert moved into the position of controller of the king’s stores. He must have impressed his superiors, because three years later, he was promoted to a weighty responsibility.”

That appointment was as the sub-delegate of the intendant of New France for Île Saint-Jean. To learn the rest of Dubuisson’s story, and a whole lot more about the Mi’kmaq, Acadians and British please turn to the book.

Launch Postponed

January 2022

It is no surprise: the current surge of COVID-19 cases on PEI and the rest of Atlantic Canada has brought about a postponement of the scheduled Jan. 10, 2022, book launch event in Charlottetown.

I shall post something here when a new date is selected.

Bye-Bye 2021

December 2021

Bye-bye 2021.

You were a year we are not all that sorry to see depart.

Restrictions, lockdowns, masks, vax, double vax and booster shots; not to mention a bunch of letters of the Greek alphabet. We are keen to move on.

But before we do, I do have two writerly highlights of 2021.

First, the year-and-a-half-delayed October evening at Truro’s Marigold Theatre—at which I read from parts of Kings of Friday Night and The Lincolns thrilled the audience with a vintage performance. The band was great, as it has been—off and on—for about 62 years. Paul Eisan was terrific as the new (and likely one time only) lead vocalist. Charlie A’Court brought chills to everyone with his surprise appearance and singing of “Dreams to Remember.”

And then came the moving, eye-watering recording of Frank MacKay singing “Danny Boy.”

If that was the last performance by the legendary band, it was a wonderful way to bring the curtain down.

My second writer’s 2021 event was the coming into the world in November of Ancient Land, New Land. It too had gone through some long delays, but was at last brought out by Acorn Press. Co-author Jesse Francis and I are hoping to do one or more launch events for it in 2022.

Cheers to all, and to all a cheery start to the years ahead.

Best Books… PEI History

December 2021

I am happy to share my most recent posting on the shepherd.com website.

It’s a terrific book-lovers’ site, with an incredible range of author-recommended reads.

My most recent post is about the history of Prince Edward Island. The earlier ones were about the Acadian Deportation, the Fortress of Louisbourg, the Seven Years’ War in North America and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1960s. Those other posts can be found at the end of the latest, whose link is below.

Kudos to the team at shepherd.com on the work they do to reach out to writers and readers everywhere.

Here’s the new link

https://shepherd.com/…/the-history-of-prince-edward-island

I Value Canadian Stories

December 2021

I am more than pleased to see that “I Value Canadian Stories” is including my posting along with those of so many other authors.

Please follow the link below to see just how many writers and other creators are calling on the federal government to correct the mistake made by the previous administration about a decade ago.

https://ivaluecanadianstories.ca/creatorscallingonottawa.php