A 'Boy From Botwood" Returns Home

A 'Boy From Botwood" Returns Home

Posted on July 18 by Bryan Davies in News
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“You boys have told a good one!” 

Such was the sentiment that greeted Andrew Traficante and I when we made our way to Newfoundland in support of our recently published book, A Boy from Botwood. With kind assistance from Dundurn’s Michelle Melski, our schedule permitted us to catch up with Frank Gogos, the remarkable, engaging Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum curator and author, in St. John’s and meet some terrific regional booksellers (such as the Downhome Shoppe, pictured here) who are carrying our work. 

The trip highlight was our visit to Botwood, the small, but very proud central Newfoundland town located on the glorious Bay of Exploits. Botwood is not only our hero Arthur Manuel’s birthplace. Throughout the horrors of WWI trench warfare, POW capture, escape, recapture, and terrible suffering that Arthur endured, Botwood remained his source of keen, personal inspiration, the place and people that encouraged Arthur’s tough-mindedness, kindness, and ready wit that radiate from his words in equal measures.

The Botwood where Andrew and I were treated with such warmth and hospitality would make Arthur Manuel proud once more. Town archivist Lisa Hemeon arranged private tours of Botwood’s Heritage and Flying Boat Museums (the town was an important WWII base protecting the Newfoundland and Canadian coasts from German submarines). Lisa also organised our A Boy from Botwood public presentation and book signing, where we met many townsfolk offering kind words and their thanks for us bringing A Boy from Botwood to the wider world – flattering indeed, and an experience we shall not soon forget.

 

Remembering Professor Michael Bliss

Like many Canadians, Andrew and I were saddened by Michael’s recent passing. When we established Tagona Creative (our Sault Ste. Marie-based creative works enterprise) in 2013, we reached out to Michael. In his early University of Toronto academic career, Michael had written about an intriguing corner of Canada’s late 19th / early 20th century business history, namely the meteoric rise and fall of Francis Clergue, the U.S.-born, Sault-based, buccaneering industrialist who founded what would become Algoma Steel, the Algoma Central Railway, and St. Mary’s – Abitibi Paper. We planned to tell the Clergue story from a modern perspective.

We had been advised it was unlikely that Professor Bliss would be very interested in our work, given his formidable scholarly reputation, one that included not suffering fools gladly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Until his death, Michael regularly provided Andrew and I with his insights, excellent guidance, and friendly encouragement on various Tagona projects. We now have a renewed determination to take our Clergue work to its conclusion, in honour of our friend Michael – a great Canadian.

Bryan Davies

Posted by Dundurn Guest on May 10, 2016
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Bryan Davies

Bryan Davies is a writer, commentator, and creative works consultant. Author of several hundred articles spanning history, law, sport, and politics, in 2013 he and Andrew Traficante co-founded Tagona Creative, a successful Canadian creative-works incubator. Bryan is also a founding partner with United Front Entertainment, a Canadian film distribution and content development enterprise. Bryan lives in Whitby, Ontario.