Canadian Folk: Portraits of Remarkable Lives
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An amusing collection of lives and stories from the eccentric side of Canada’s history.
A joyous romp through the back pages of Canadian quirkiness, Canadian Folk provides a fresh look at the saints, sinners, oddballs, and outright nutbars who have populated the Canadian landscape.
They were perpetually northbound or south; they were inveterate walkers, or world class runners, millionaires in ill-advised Citroen half-tracks. The restless characters who spanned those miles and who fill the pages of this book were fuelled by the ambitions, the doubts, and the certainties of their times, a certainty that now seems unfathomable to us and frequently maddening. From doomed explorers to celebrated poets of cheese, this collection provides a fascinating look at the eminent and no-so-eminent characters who came before us and left their colourful mark on Canada’s history.
Meet famous and forgotten women in fields such as science, sport, politics, war and peace, and arts and entertainment, including the original Degrassi kids, Captain Kool, hockey star Hilda Ranscombe, and the woman dubbed “the atomic mosquito. ” This book is full of amazing facts and trivia about extraordinary women. You’ll learn about Second World War heroine Joan Fletcher Bamford, who rescued 2,000 Dutch captives from a prison camp in a Sumatran jungle while commanding seventy Japanese soldiers. Hilwie Hamdon was the woman behind the building of Canada’s first mosque, and Frances Gertrude McGill was the crime fighter named the “Sherlock Holmes of Saskatchewan.
She knows every one of them. There is no one living in Rankin Inlet she does not know — a few qallnaat, perhaps, like me. Otherwise the people come in, go out, laugh, step around her, over her. In the midst of this activity her grip on the penny loosens. It falls to the ground and rolls tantalizingly down the aisle. I’ve seen this story before. I’ve seen it in film clips and in life, perhaps even in dreams. I know its shape and I know how it ends. I will get up and rescue the penny. In a gesture of benevolence I will then hand it back to her.
He encountered white men who had opened the flap of a medicine tent and been blinded by what they saw there. He travelled with carriers of sacred pipe stems. He suffered the agonies of frostbite and mal de racquet (snowshoe sickness), cured by slicing open the calf muscles with a knife, or scorching them with a burned stick. On a desperate trail in the Rockies, Kane witnessed a horse sidle up to another horse and help support its pack across its own back. He endured eighty-seven consecutive days in a canoe, and traded away a rain coat made from the intestines of seals.
He lived in a small shack in Prince Albert National Park with an active beaver lodge in his living room. In the summer of 1932, his wife gave birth to a daughter. Prior to the birth, Anahareo, who had not put on a dress in six years, desperately demanded to know what size maternity dress she should order. Equally desperate, Archie told his 110-pound wife “Get the biggest they’ve got! ” He worked on a second book. His wife, who sometimes dressed their infant in a rabbit robe she’d won off a Hudson’s Bay factor in a poker game, placed the child with a woman friend in Prince Albert, and, to her husband’s envy, took off to prospect a mining field on the banks of the Churchill River.
Sportswriter Lou Marsh described the young Onondagan “smiling like a coon in a watermelon patch. ” Marsh, a popular Toronto Star sports columnist who would carry on a bizarre and nasty campaign against Longboat, confidently described him to his readers as “the original dummy. ” “Wiley … unreliable … as hard to train as a leopard. ” The difficulty writers experienced trying to pinpoint the man is suggested in the quantity of nicknames they stuck on him. He was tagged the Bronze Cyclone, the Racing Redskin, the Wonderful Redskin, Tireless Tom, Big Chief, Heap Big Chief, the Great Indian, even the Irish Indian.