Category Archives: Author

Renowned Canadian Explorer as you have never seen him …

Dr. Joseph MacInnis is a Canadian physician, author, underwater diver and aquanaut. He was born on March 2, 1937 in Barrie, Ontario.

He first learned to scuba dive in 1954, at the age of 17.

He earned his MD from the University of Toronto and did his internship at the Toronto General Hospital. It was during his internship that he came across John McGean, a tunnel construction worker who came in suffering from decompression sickness. This was the beginning of his lifetime passion in diving medicine and studying the effects that undersea exploration has on their psyche and physiology. He transferred McGean to a pressure chamber in Buffalo, New York. The patient fully recovered.

Between 1970 to 1974, MacInnis led four major scientific diving expeditions to Resolute Bay 965 kilometers (600 miles) north of the Arctic Circle.

On the third expedition, MacInnis established the first polar dive station, “Sub-Igloo.” This led to the very first filming of Harp seals and Bowhead, Narwhal and Beluga whales.

His team also discovered the remains of the HMS Breadalbane in the Northwest Passage, at 104 meters beneath the surface. The British ship sunk in 1835, crushed by ice.

He was heavily involved in the 1985 exploration of the Titanic. In 1991 he co-led a team in the filming of the IMAX movie of the fated ship.

Dr. Joseph MacInnis has written 9 books covering his explorations.

I would highly recommend dropping by Dr. MacInnis’s official website. And, to top things out, here are a few books he wrote:



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Canadian Cuisine Timeline 1497-1793

Canadian Food Graphic

A lot of the food and dishes that are “Canadian,” are in fact a result of the early years’ immigrations.  As such, before I go on to the Canadian food inventions and innovations, I think it’s important to list a broad stroke of our timeline.  Because of the length, I am breaking up the timeline into three posts.

1497: Giovanni Caboto (better known as John Cabot) sailed from Bristol, England, in search of a trade route to the Orient. Three months later, he returned home to tell of finding a whole New World of tall trees and waters so thick with fish that could be hauled aboard in buckets. This secured him a five-ship voyage to return. It was disastrous for him as he died on the voyage, but his ships returned and corroborated his fishy tales.

1534: Jacques Cartier sailed into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Chaleur Bay, where he met a group of Iroquois. He was invited to a feast of seal, cod and sturgeon, maple sugar-glazed moose loin, corn soup and cakes.

1580: New varieties of food were discovered on a regular basis: avocados, chili peppers, corn, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, just to name a few.

1606: Samuel de Champlain, cartographer and explorer, established Port Royal. He created the Order of Good Cheer (L’Ordre de Bon Temps). Prominent members of the settlement took turns hosting special meals. The benefits were a healthy competition within the group, better nutrition and, it made it easier to wait for the spring. You can view my earlier post about this at

1670: England’s King Charles II granted the lands to the Hudson’s Bay Company. They, in turn, built trading posts and kept them supplied with trade goods and food. Every post was well stocked with butter, tea, biscuits, coffee, cane sugar, salt beef, and other necessities from home.

1755: The deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New England began. Many were transported back to France but most dispersed to southern areas such as Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns. Years later, almost half the Acadians returned to Canada, bringing not only their old Acadian cuisine but also their new Cajun style of cooking.

1759: Immigration to Canada increased. Consequently, ships were loaded with settlers arriving almost daily, and the Canadian food experience switched from a pork, fish, wine and sauce-based cuisine to one built upon mutton, beef, peas and beer. Taverns became popular with beer and roast beef with mushy peas.

1769: The Experienced English Housekeeper, written by Elizabeth Raffald, was published in London, England, and became essential reading for those headed for Canada.

1775: The American Revolution began. Staples such as salt, molasses, spices, citrus, tea and coffee become unavailable.

Because of losing the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763), France ceded Canada to Britain, which precipitated a mass migration, especially from Ireland and northern Scotland. Britain offered emigrants free passage along with some provisions – such as tools, salt, food rations, and armaments. Big meat ruled, but it was all tough as nails. Luckily, the English had learned the trick of tenderizing meat from the Romans, and after a few weeks of hanging and a bit of mould scraping, there was your Sunday dinner. It was a bit ripe, but a good long roasting fixed that, and from this habit of culinary utilitarianism came the British reputation for overcooking food.

Late 1700s, potatoes became as ever-present as corn and apples. Potatoes did very well in the Maritimes because the soil was suited to growing them. In addition, just like grain and apples, the excess could be easily distilled into alcohol.

1783: United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution arrived in all parts of Upper Canada and the Maritimes. They brought both their cuisine and their slaves, with each having an impact on the evolution of Canadian cuisine – roast duck laced with cayenne pepper was a culinary eye-opener for Canadian settlers.

1786: John Molson bought a small brewery in Montreal and began creating a financial, nation-expanding empire that would include banks, lumber, steamships, a railway and larger breweries. Called the nation’s greatest entrepreneur, John Molson and his business endeavours created a demand for timber and grains.

1790: A salt boiling operation was established at Twelve Mile Creek (now St. Catharines, Ontario) by William Merritt, an immigrant from Liverpool, England, a city with a long history of salt production. The British government in Upper Canada discontinued the practice of supplying each settler family with a barrel of imported salt.

1793: Slavery was abolished in what is now Ontario. Therefore, villages opened inns and taverns whose kitchens offered employment to displaced cooks, escaped U.S. slaves and returning Acadians. Some of them were famous for their dinners that were usually Southern-inspired dishes like slow-baked Virginia-style ham and biscuits, crayfish pie, fried fish, frog legs, cornbread, yams, tomato salad, corn on the cob and syrupy dessert pies, along with traditional roasts of beef, mutton, and wild game. A treat for travellers, Southern-style foods found approval in home kitchens, a fact that led to the design of Canadian cooking stoves with tops that facilitated iron frypans and boiling pans.

Some of my earlier related posts:

Tomorrow’s post will cover the years of 1816 to 1890.


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“Why I’m Not Allowed my Book Title”

The Book of Negroes 6-part miniseries premieres on CBC Television on January 7, 2015 at 9 p.m. (9:30 in Newfoundland) and continues on consecutive Wednesdays; in February, it will air in the United States on BET (Black Entertainment Television). The novel it was based on was authored by Lawrence Hill.  Allow me to introduce him to you.

Photo of Canadian author Lawrence Hill from 2008

Canadian author Lawrence Hill, 2008. Uploaded to by user Sherurcij (

Hill was born in Newmarket, Ontario. He is the son of American immigrants to Canada — a black father and a white mother. Hill has written in his bestselling memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice of how his parents — social activist Donna Hill and social scientist/public servant Daniel G. Hill — met, married, left the United States the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C., and raised a family in Toronto. Growing up in the 1960s in Don Mills, a predominantly white suburb of Toronto, Hill was very influenced by his parents’ human rights work and would go on to explore in his writing themes related to identity and belonging.

Hill has lived and worked in Baltimore, Spain and France, and now lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with his wife and five children. His brother is singer-songwriter Dan Hill.

The $10-million miniseries chronicles the dramatic journey and life of Aminata Diallo, a young West African girl, abducted from her village and sold into slavery in America. Eventually, she registers her name in the Book of Negroes, the British ledger of 3,000 Black Loyalists who declared their allegiance to the King and were allowed to leave America for Nova Scotia – and what they believed was the promised land.

Books by Hill includes novels, such as:

Among his non-fiction books, there is:


To learn more about Lawrence Hill, I suggest going to the official Lawrence Hill website; and a .pdf called A tribute: “Dad will always ‘live within us’ – A son remembers Daniel Hill III, Activist, storyteller, champion, inspirer”; and finally a Guardian newspaper article Why I’m Not Allowed my Book Title.

Come back and tell us what your thoughts are about the miniseries if you watch it!


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Montgomery’s Anne

So many people around the world are familiar with Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.  It doesn’t need much introduction, but maybe I can remind some of you about the story and the author herself.

Photo of Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery in a photograph believed to have been taken when she arrived in Halifax to work at the Echo. (1897)

This Canadian literary classic is the story of 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley who is sent by mistake to live at Green Gables in Avonlea with a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The Cuthberts were ready for a boy to help out with the daily chores at the farm. But within a few days Anne has fallen in love with the Cuthberts and Green Gables and wants it to be her permanent home. Matthew and Marilla are quickly drawn to Anne in return and cannot envision life without her, despite all the awkward situations this scrappy, talkative, red-haired child gets into.

The traditions and lifestyle of Prince Edward Island where Avonlea is situated are based on Montgomery’s own experiences growing up in this unique place. She also includes descriptions of its beautiful landscapes.

Since its first publication, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages. Numerous sequels were penned by Montgomery, and since her death another sequel has been published, as well as an authorized prequel. The original book is taught to students around the world.

It has been adapted as films, made-for-television movies, and animated and live-action television series. Anne Shirley was played by Megan Follows in the 1985 Canadian produced movie. Plays and musicals have also been started, with annual productions in Canada since 1964 of the first musical production, which has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan. Others have been produced in Canada and the United States.

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874 in Clifton, P.E.I., and died on April 24, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario at the age of 67.  She was called “Maud” by family and friends and publicly generally known as L. M. Montgomery.  The first story was published in 1908. Anne of Green Gables was an instantaneous success.  Perhaps a not so well-known fact about Montgomery is that she went on to create 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays. The majority of the novels were set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and places in the Canadian province became literary points of interest. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.

Mindful of her fame, by 1920 Montgomery began editing and recopying her journals, presenting her life as she wanted it remembered. In doing so certain episodes were changed or excluded.

Freckles was popularized in the book ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in which Anne Shirley has freckles over her face.  Freckles, also known as sun’s kiss.  It is often said of freckles that they give that ‘girl next door’ look.  At the time, many young girls became proud of their freckles.

There are so many links I can offer you about the book series and about Montgomery, but allow me to offer you a select collection. You can get free audio readings of her books at Librivox; Ryerson University has created the Anne of Green Gables Centenary; the University of Guelph has put together the L. M. Montgomery Research Centre; I also suggest the The L. M. Montgomery Literary Society.

“You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed.
“I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”
“I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.
“Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths of despair?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s very uncomfortable feeling indeed. When you try to eat a lump comes right up in your throat and you can’t swallow anything, not even if it was a chocolate caramel. I had one chocolate caramel once two years ago and it was simply delicious. I’ve often dreamed since then that I had a lot of chocolate caramels, but I always wake up just when I’m going to eat them. I do hope you won’t be offended because I can’t eat. Everything is extremely nice, but still I cannot eat.”


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It’s official now!

I am proud to say, officially, that I’m a winner of the NanoWriMo 2014 challenge of 50,000 words!  I also want to congratulate every other participant, winner or not!

I’m still a little ways off finishing the book, but I’ve got a heck of a start on it, and will keep going at this pace ’till November 30th!

Winner 2014 badge

Winner of the 2014 Nano challenge!


Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Author, Canadian-related Links, November, Publishing


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Beautiful Joe

As an inspiration for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in November, I would like to introduce you to a great author who has known success and is behind great works as a conservationist.

Margaret Marshall Saunders

Margaret Marshall Saunders. Source: Harkins and Johnstone (1902) Little Pilgramages among the Women Who Have Written Famous Books, L.C. Page & Co., Boston

Margaret Marshall Saunders was born on May 13, 1861 in the village of Milton, Nova Scotia; she died on February 15, 1947, in Toronto, Ontario. She is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

She was a teacher in Nova Scotia who thought something was missing in her life.  Her friends and family encouraged her to write a novel.  She did just that.  Her first published novel was a melodramatic romantic story, My Spanish Sailor. [A Tale.]. Afraid of how other women would react to this book, she published under the name Marshall Saunders. And so began her writing career.

A chance encounter with William Moore in Meaford, Ontario, inspired her to write his real-life tale of a dog rescued from a brutal owner who clipped his ears and tail. The book is Beautiful Joe. It told the story of an abused dog from his point of view. Not only did her 1893 story win first prize in an American Humane Society competition, but Saunders was the first woman – the first Canadian – to sell more than a million copies. Her book was also translated in over fourteen languages!

“I don’t believe that a dog could have fallen into a happier home than I did.”

How’s that for inspiration?

In 1934, Saunders was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Together with fellow Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Saunders co-founded the Maritime branch of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

Following the success of Beautiful Joe, Saunders wrote more than twenty other stories, a number of which provided social commentary on such things as the abolition of child labor, slum clearance, and the improvement of playground facilities.

In 1994, the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society was formed to celebrate the life and story of Beautiful Joe and the achievements of Margaret Marshall Saunders. A park dedicated to Beautiful Joe has been established in Meaford, Ontario, Canada.

2014 Participant of the NaNoWriMo challenge

Natioanl Novel Writing Month


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Medicine Man’s Hat

Medicine Hat in Alberta was named in 1882 by Cpl Walter Johnson of the North-West Mounted Police. Johnson may have simply translated the Blackfoot Saamis, “head-dress of a medicine man”, in reference to the shape of a small hill.

Medicine Hat

View from the Finley Bridge, looking southwest toward City Hall and Court of Queen’s Bench. MedHatRiverViewCC BY-SA 3.0
Festbock – Own work

However, at least 13 legends about the naming of the place have evolved over the years.

One story often told claims a Blackfoot medicine man was killed during a battle with the Cree medicine man’s hat, with the Cree fleeing.

When some suggestions were made in 1910 to give the city a more prosaic name, such as Gasburg, or Smithville, the calamity was stifled after famous British writer Rudyard Kipling sharply rebuked the thought of such insolence.

There is a great book, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names that I still refer to for research, and sometimes just to read through. To visit the official page for the city of Medicine hat, click HERE! If you are thinking of visiting Medicine Hat someday, I refer you to Medicine Hat Tourism.


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