Non-fiction

Category: Non-fiction

After a long, satisfying career writing two-minute television news stories, the seed for my first book was planted on a memorable day as I embarked on the job of a lifetime.

 

It was April 2011.  I had just landed my dream promotion:  London-based Europe Bureau Chief for Global National.  The taxi was waiting to take me to the airport to begin my posting, my first major assignment to cover the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  As I said my goodbyes, my wife Isabella handed me a present.  It was a journal with a green leather cover.

 

If you’re a fan of The Dark Knight Trilogy, I’m sure you’ll agree that Batman Begins pales in comparison to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises. The villain doesn’t hold up and there isn’t the sense of intrigue into the trials of Bruce Wayne that there is in the second two films.

But the first film is still important because it contains one of the most memorable lines in the series. And save for a few stunners from Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin, it might be the most memorable line in any single Batman film:

I was introduced to Jackspeak when I began my 26-year naval career in HMCS CHIPPAWA on July 1st, 1980. I quickly learned my training base was called a stone frigate, floors were decks, the ceiling was a deckhead, walls were bulkheads, and the upper ridge of my boot sole was called catwalks.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a historian, it seemed like a natural extension of the work I had already completed, and the next step towards advancing my career. But, after finishing my dissertation, my enthusiasm for writing a book on the topic I had just spent the previous four years researching and writing about had faded. I no longer wanted to write about how black bears in Ontario were hunted, or how the regulatory process that governed these activities had changed over the years.

Many Canadians are increasingly nervous about venturing south of the border these days. Some on principle, others fearing that US border thugs may ask if they have ever smoked pot. Besides, Canada has such a vast array of amazing and unusual world-famous attractions, why would we? We have famous train excursions, as well as some of the most recognized fossil sites and Indigenous heritage features. UNESCO has designated an increasing number of heritage sites and biosphere reserves across the country.

Since the Boer War, cyclists had been used on the battlefield as light cavalry responsible for reconnaissance, scouting, screening, and communications. The thinking was that the “act of dismounting deprived a cavalry unit of the services of the men detailed to care for the horses. As one man could only manage four horses or so, the transition from saddle to boot cost a cavalry unit some 25 percent of its rifle strength.

The Irish immigrants who made homes for themselves in mid Canada during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are the subject of my latest book. They achieved extraordinary success. Feats of physical endurance were commonplace. Their pioneering achievements were phenomenal, but, because so much attention has been given in recent times to the suffering the Irish experienced during the Great Irish Famine of 1847, their story has not been told properly.

 

September 4, 2018―Dundurn Press is thrilled that four outstanding Dundurn titles have been nominated for the Heritage Toronto Award for Historical Writing. Don Mills by Scott Kennedy, The Great Gould by Peter Goddard, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern by David McPherson, and The Toronto Book of the Dead by Adam Bunch all made the list and are in great company with the other nominated titles.

 

Pages