Sandbag Shuffle
Thistledown Press / 13 August 2008

The Red River Flood of 1997 swallowed a large portion of southern Manitoba, leaving in its wake stories of tragedy and heroism. The wall of water that crawled toward Winnipeg caused the evacuation of more than twenty-five thousand people, two thousand head of cattle and forty-five thousand chickens. Tens of thousands more were evacuated in the United States, including forty-six thousand residents of Grand Forks, North Dakota. For most, it was a disaster of epic proportions. For Owen and Andrew, the young protagonists in Kevin Mark Fournier’s first novel, it’s an opportunity for escape.

Svoboda
Thistledown Press / 17 July 2008

Svoboda by Bill Stenson Published by Thistledown Press Review by Chris Istace $ 18.95 ISBN 978-1-897235-30-0 Svoboda, by Victoria, B.C. author Bill Stenson, is a story of assimilation, providing a strong overview of how one Doukhobor family came to be as Canadian as their neighbours. Vasili Saprikin grew up in the midst of the tumultuous early history of the Doukhobor’s struggle to maintain the way of life they wanted to bring to Canada from Russia. A communal people, their settlements in both Saskatchewan and British Columbia were being assaulted by governmental attempts to assimilate the Doukhobor people into the Canadian culture of the 1950s. The Doukhobor’s response to this pressure developed into a pacifistic faction and a violent one. Learning from his grandfather, Alexay, Vasili stood outside these two factions while being taught to be proud of his heritage, regardless of how the circumstances of his culture changed. This was a challenge after the boy was whisked away from his single mother, Anuta, to residential school, where he was introduced to a conventional North American education and lifestyle. Vasili came to enjoy being educated and living the life of a standard teenager, however negative his experience at the residential school…

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements
THORO / 2 July 2008

The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements by Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson Published by THORO Publishing Review by Chris Istace $22.95 ISBN 0-9734313-0-X There’s something quaint about the way communities are named in Saskatchewan. Whether the names honor heroes or villains – local or foreign – a geological feature, or a historic occurrence, each community and the stories behind their naming are a significant part of their histories. Their names say something about both the people who settled there and the generations that followed. Colin A. Thomson and Rodney G. Thomson seek to establish how much of an influence the “people of the pen” – writers, poets, journalists, scientists, historians, composers, artists, and others – had on the people of Saskatchewan with The Romance of Saskatchewan Settlements. Working in the vein of Bill Barry’s “People Places,” the Thomsons outline the lives and times of the writers and artists who had their names etched on maps and highway signs throughout Saskatchewan. The authors pay particular homage to the communities in the southeast area of the province, which they have labeled “Writer’s Corner”. This zone includes a box on the map that runs from Moose Jaw, south to the U.S. border,…