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Synopsis

Since 1917, much has been written about the life and death of artist Tom Thomson on Canoe Lake in Ontario's Algonquin Park. Thomson was a major influence on the Group of Seven, but until now, little has been known about the women whose lives he touched: Annie Fraser, proprietress of Mowat Lodge who likely knew a lot more than she ever let on; Louisa Blecher, mother of Martin Blecher the man who was silently accused of playing a hand in Thomson's death; Molly Colson, owner of the Algonquin Hotel where Tom was last seen; and the elusive Winnifred Trainor, Thomson's alleged love interest. After years of painstaking research, Gaye I. Clemson's ALGONQUIN VOICES brings to life the lives of these and many other courageous women who have lived and loved on the shores of Algonquin Park's famous Canoe Lake since 1905.

"In 1997 I got inspired to trace and record the settlement history of all of my Canoe Lake neighbours," Clemson, a 48-year resident of Canoe Lake, explains. "In the process I discovered a treasure trove of family stories about the lives of women pioneers, business owners, children's camp leaders and independent spirits from all walks of life, who were captivated by the lake's haunted history and beauty and chose to settle on Canoe Lake, some with husbands and children and others without."

Beginning in the early 1900's, ALGONQUIN VOICES tells in words and pictures the stories of over 20 pioneers, business women, children's' camp leaders and independent spirits who chose to make Canoe Lake their summer, and in some cases year round, home. It shares their life and settlement history, artistic and professional endeavours, family traditions and summer amusements including first hand insight as to how they coped (and in some cases earned a living) with the challenges of day-to-day living without city conveniences, miles from civilization deep in the heart of one of North AmericaÕs most well-known parks.

It makes an important contribution in helping 21st C young women understand better what life was like for their grandmothers and great grandmothers 100+ years ago and get in touch with their collective feminist roots that are so easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of our modern lives.

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