First In Canada: An Aboriginal Book of Days

First in Canada: An Aboriginal Book of Days by Jonathan Anuik Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Press Review by Chris Ewing-Weisz $24.95 978-088977-240-3 Every schoolchild has heard of La Vérendrye, but how many know the name of the Cree guide who made the canoe route map he relied on? We all know about the Plains of Abraham and Sir John A. Macdonald, but how many of us know about the numbered treaties, or when Native Canadians got the vote? Jonathan Anuik’s sumptuously illustrated, made-for-browsing book brings a hidden history to light. Hundreds of intriguing facts, arranged by date, alternate with photographs and short writeups about First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people across Canada, from earliest prehistory to the present. First in Canada celebrates Native achievements in every field: art, literature, music, architecture, politics, medicine, sports, religion, theatre, education, and more. Also noted are the darker elements of our shared history: conflicts from the North West Rebellion to Oka; Richard Cardinal’s suicide and David Marshall’s wrongful imprisonment; the long and tangled history of legislation and activism attempting to sort out the relationship between Native and more recently arrived Canadians. Many items are only briefly noted; readers will want to turn…

Storm of the Century

Storm of the Century: The Regina Tornado of 1912 by Sandra Bingaman Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Review by Keith Foster $29.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-248-9 If there was any doubt about the importance of newspapers to historical research, it is surely dispelled by Sandra Bingaman’s latest book, Storm of the Century. In describing the impact of the massive tornado that struck Regina on June 30, 1912, the author draws heavily on Regina’s three daily newspapers of the time – the Leader, the Province, and the Standard. By using selected quotes from these papers, she gives the reader a feeling of almost being there. When she quotes from survivors, it’s as if one is hearing their stories directly from them. For example, travelling salesman W.S. Ingram, who was in an office with Joseph Bryan when the storm struck, related his experience to a Standard reporter: “Strange to say, I felt no injury, other than a somewhat dazed condition. I could feel that Mr. Bryan must be on me, and reaching up my hand could feel his body. I called to him, but received no reply, and reached up again to feel his arm. The body became limp, and I was quite…

Gabriel Dumont: Li Chef Michif In Images and In Words
Gabriel Dumont Institute / 2 March 2012

Gabriel Dumont: La Chef Michif in Images and In Words by Darren R. Préfontaine Published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute Review by Chris Ewing-Weisz $65.00 ISBN 978-0-920915-87-5 On postage stamps and place mats, bronze plaques and sculpture, Gabriel Dumont, military leader of Riel’s 1885 Rebellion, continues to be remembered. In recent years he has been freshly appreciated as a genuine community leader, and a touchstone of Métis identity. Now he is the subject of a large, colourful, coffee-table anthology from the Gabriel Dumont Institute. Drawing together a wealth of photographs, artwork, archival documents, artifacts from his life, and newspaper accounts past and present, it explores how Dumont has been perceived through time and by different individuals and communities. Browsing these pages, you will see Dumont through many different eyes: Métis and settler, government and military, French and English Canadian, American and British. You will see Dumont pictured with hostile bitterness, racist suspicion, equally racist romanticism, revolutionary fervor, political pragmatism, and more. You will also discover a wealth of period detail: the difference between French and English billiard tables; how bison hunters reloaded on the fly (and sometimes lost fingers); war reporting prior to instant communications; and Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild…

Autumn Wind

“Autumn Wind” by Eusebio L. Koh Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Karen Lawson $14.95 ISBN 978-1-894431-45-3 Eusebio L. Koh spent many years ensconced within the walls of academia. He is a former university professor who taught Mathematics at the University of Regina. After retiring, his passion for writing snowballed into a desire to share his thoughts and ideas. He received positive feedback from his first book, Like the Mimosa , and he was inspired to write a second book. This latest offering is called Autumn Wind, and like his first book, it is a collection of short stories, poems and essays. The poems and stories are touching and heartwarming. Koh chooses subjects that are dear to his heart and are easy for the reader to relate to and identify with. From the simple joy of picking Saskatoon berries, to the deep love for his grandson, the author taps into his sensitive side and reveals a part of himself through his expressive language and his ability to tell a story that flows effortlessly. Koh shares his emotions and feelings in an honest, open way. He has that special gift that makes a writer endearing to his readers –…

Mind the Gap!
Dunlop Art Gallery / 13 May 2011

Mind the Gap! Exhibition Curated by: Amanda Cachia and Jeff Nye Published by Dunlop Art Gallery Review by Kris Brandhagen $30 ISBN:978-1-894882-35-4 Mind the Gap! is an exhibition catalogue for a group show of the same name, co-curated by Amanda Cachia, then Gallery Director, and Jeff Nye, Assistant Director of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. This exhibition displayed “contemporary visual art by 30 artists, including a three-person collective, from 13 cities and towns” in Saskatchewan. In her introduction, Cachia explains that the title, Mind the Gap! is a misguided term that refers to Saskatchewan as “the gap in Canada’s consciousness and geo-cultural landscape”. It is a good book that I am happy to have in my library. Nye’s essay, “Maps, Gaps, & Intersections: Navigating Saskatchewan” attends to some of the topics that affect artists in this province and their works, such as: the lay of the land, disease and the body, living traditions, environmental interruptions, and contemporary social and visual media. This catalogue also embraces the literary arts, including non-fiction and poetry inspired by Saskatchewan highways. “Looking for Tamra Keepness Along the Number 1” by Carle Steel was the most enjoyable personal essay I have read for a…

Moving Forward
DriverWorks Ink / 5 May 2011

Moving Forward The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje by Mary Harelkin Bishop Published by DriverWorks Ink Reviewed by Cindy Wilson $16.95 ISBN 978-0-9810394-4-2 Young people need heroes – individuals who meet life with determination and grace. It is surprising that an athlete of the stature of Colette Bourgonje, from my home province, was totally unknown to me. Colette Bourgonje has had amazing successes in her lifetime, yet I did not recognize her name. Bourgonje’s story should be celebrated and promoted. As a teenager in her hometown of Porcupine Plain, she was a star athlete. After a devastating car accident in her final year of high school, Bourgonje became paralyzed and could no longer participate in the active sports she loved. She had been a long distance runner who excelled in volleyball, cross country running, basketball, and in track and field. After her accident she graduated with a Bachelor of Education and a degree in Physical Education from the University of Saskatchewan. Colette had begun wheelchair racing near the end of her University career, and had done well. She was fearless and as her brother Everett said,”a bit of a daredevil”. She was never afraid of a challenge or to try…

The Running of the Buffalo
DriverWorks Ink / 11 February 2011

Running of the Buffalo by Ron Petrie Published by DriverWorks Ink Review by Cindy Wilson $21 ISBN 978-0-9810394-5-9 What child growing up during a Saskatchewan winter has not put their tongue on a frozen metal object, or been aghast and terrified by seeing someone else make that terrifying (and painful) mistake? Ron Petrie’s Running of the Buffalo will make you forget the pain entirely. This book is filled with enjoyable nonsense, a great deal of local knowledge, and accurate research sometimes hidden beneath the author’s antics. You’ll see yourself, or someone you’re related to, or someone you know in Petrie’s humour and approachable style. The author, who grew up on a farm in province with largely rural populations, shares his point of view, which others from rural Saskatchewan will relate to. Petrie offers the ridiculous in areas like child rearing, home improvement, sex, and government. You’ll laugh out loud at the author’s take on growing up in Saskatchewan, and at his take on life. It’s great to read about the province’s rural towns and villages, many of which will be instantly familiar to the seasoned Saskatchewanian. Petrie suggests the names of some towns could mistakenly reflect the type of citizens…

The Leadership Formula
Dakota Publishing / 18 January 2011

The Leadership Formula by Terry Tuharsky Review by Karen Lawson Published by Dakota Publishing $20.00 ISBN 978-0-9865959-0-5 The Leadership Formula is a must have reference guide for anyone who wants to become a more effective leader. It incorporates a vast array of ideas, suggestions, and knowledge. Terry Tuharsky is a business consultant and writer who lives in Regina. His successful business career has given him the necessary credentials to write a book full of valuable information. His own personal success is reflected in the wealth of information he imparts to his readers. The Leadership Formula outlines leadership in a matter of fact, step by step way. The first part of the book is devoted to the subject of universal politics and how they are part of our culture and community. In order to become a successful leader, it is imperative that one understands how the politics of any organization work. Anyone from an employee climbing the career ladder to the CEO of a company or organization can utilize this knowledge and use it to become a more productive and effective leader. The Leadership Formula is a serious book about a serious topic but there are elements of humour scattered throughout…

Birth of a Boom: Lives & Legacies of Saskatchewan Entrepreneurs
Prairie Policy Centre / 24 December 2010

Birth of a Boom: Lives & Legacies of Saskatchewan Entrepreneurs by Suzanne Paschall Published by Prairie Policy Centre Review by Andréa Ledding $25 ISBN 978-0-9730456-3-5 In this book Suzanne Paschall examines the success of over a dozen Saskatchewan entrepreneurs and their small and mid-sized prairie businesses that helped fuel the “Saskaboom”, an economic upswing which helped our Province outperform most of Canada during a difficult economic time. Paschall’s conversational tone in revealing the people and their success stories creates a readable and even captivating exploration of the business world. Readers can follow people such as Norm Wallace, who as a 19 year-old Irishman immigrated to Canada in 1957 and promptly faked his way into a bank teller position by “translating” and passing off a Gaelic swimming pool certificate as his high school credentials. Wallace later went on to open his own innovative construction company, and is still listing sales of over $20 million annually. Wallace is more than simply a good businessman, though, as he’s given back to a community that’s done so much for him by volunteering and working with felons, families, and the Sasknative Economic Development Corporation. What’s more, Wallace even funded an economic trade mission for four…

The Saskatchewan Secret
Benchmark Press / 27 January 2010

The Saskatchewan Secret: Folk Healers, Diviners, and Mystics of the Prairies by Jacqueline Moore Published by Benchmark Press Review by Shanna Mann $19.95 ISBN 978-0-9813243-2-6 It was inspiring to read about people with the intestinal fortitude to live unconventional lives. In our scientific, logical world that kind of nonconformity separates us from our fellow man at the same time as we learn the underlying truth– we are more inter-connected than we believe. Jacqueline Moore wisely advises readers in the preface, “‘Reality’ is a curious word–it sounds undeniable, authoritative, scientific. But it’s a completely subjective concept… These individuals are truthfully depicting their version of reality; however, one’s personal version must not be — can not be — the whole, entire, and complete reality…I would ask that you simply accept that these are other good people’s real experiences; and that you keep an open mind.” On one hand, many of the stories lined up with my personal beliefs, and perhaps I like the book simply because it makes me feel “right.” But on the other hand, when you read about faith healers invoking the Virgin Mary or Jesus and getting phenomenal results (an event which before reading this book I would have…