Tag Archives: historical non-fiction

Book Review: A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts – by Ruth A. MacDonald








Book: A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts
Author: Ruth A. MacDonald
Publisher: Community Books
Date: 2000
Genre: history
Pages: 95
Price: $22 - Canadian or US funds ** (mailing included)
My rating: An informative, interesting collection of 
under-acknowledged historical events


A superbly constructed book, A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts, compiled by Ruth A. MacDonald, is full of amazing recorded accomplishments. This is a work that spanned over thirty years of collecting and researching and organizing. Mrs. MacDonald did her utmost to accurately verify each item’s status as a ‘first’. She knows that, being unable to get verification for everything, she regretfully left off the list many things that probably should have been included. Even so, the total of firsts listed is between 600 and 700 different entries, and that’s from this one little province – one of the oldest provinces in Canada and riddled with history.

Firsts recorded in this book begin in the 1600’s and continue through to the year 2000 with the publication of A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts.








A few examples:

1606: First Social Club in North America was “The Order of Good Cheer” organized by Champlain at Port Royal. Its purpose was to keep up the spirits of his men during the long winter months. The noblemen took turns preparing food and organizing each day’s entertainment. Special guest was the famous Mi’kmaq chief Membertou.

1734: First fireproof structure in North America was the concrete Louisbourg lighthouse erected by the French governor between 1731-34.

1836: First Canadian author to become nationally famous was Judge Thomas Chandler of Haliburton of Windsor, Nova Scotia. He wrote numerous serious works but gained his recognition as a humorist in 1836 with “The Clockmaker,” and “Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick of Slickville.”

1839: First trade bookstore in Canada was established in 1839. The Book Room, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is believed to hold this distinction.

1866: First spring ice skates in the world were invented by John Forbes of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The invention of these Acme metal skates made an improvement in the game of ice hockey and figure skating, and led to the construction of more covered rinks.

1869: First place in the world to have tides so high was Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia. It was recorded that during the Saxby Tide in 1869 the waters rose 31.5 m (103 ft.)

1916: First and only battalion of black men in Canada was stationed at Pictou, Nova Scotia, during the First World War. It was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July 1916, and was commanded by Col. David Hugh Sutherland from River John, Nova Scotia.

1984: First tidal power generating station in North America was completed at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, in August 1984. The four-year construction sequence involved diversion and replacement of an existing highway, excavation of the site, power house construction, backfilling, and erection of the world’s largest straight-flow turbine and the opening of intake and discharge canals. (My husband worked on this very dangerous construction project.)

1993: First skeletal remains of a juvenile mastodon in Canada, and only one of six found in the world, were uncovered at a site on the property of the National Gypsum Plant at Carroll’s Corner in Halifax County, Nova Scotia.

This book is fascinating! It was hard to choose only a few firsts to share with you. If you ever wondered where something originated, there’s a good chance it happened here in Nova Scotia. Mrs. MacDonald invested a lot of time and work into this collection and it is beautifully put together, completed with the help of her daughter who did the photography included in the book, and her son who edited it.

When I spoke with the author of A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts she was delighted for me to make her book available to anyone who might like to purchase a copy. I have a few left – SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR! – and thought it would be nice to let you know about this wonderful book. ** (The price I’ve listed includes shipping to you.) If you want one please contact me and we’ll make arrangements. You can leave a message in the comments for me to email you about her book, or you can contact me through my About Me/Contact page which is private as it goes directly to my inbox.

You can find A Collection of Nova Scotia Firsts by Ruth A. MacDonald on my BUY THE BOOK page. Please note that although it is listed on Amazon it is no longer available through them. There are only a few copies left, so if you know someone who would appreciate this book … don’t wait!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Book Review: Heroes of Isle aux Morts – by Alice Walsh






Book: Heroes of Isle aux Morts
Author: Alice Walsh
Illustrator: Geoff Butler
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: February 15, 2001
Genre: picture book; age 8 - 12 yrs, gr 3 - 7
Pages: 32, hardcover
Price: $5.50, varies
My rating: a well-told true story with fabulous illustrations

Heroes of Isle aux Morts by Alice Walsh is an amazing true story about a very hazardous rescue that happened in July 1828 off the coast of Newfoundland before it was a province of Canada.

Early one morning Anne Harvey woke to the sound of a ferocious storm and above the wind a distress signal. Then she saw a flare light up the sky, meaning there was a ship in trouble and without help its passengers would surely drown. Many ships had been driven onto the rocks in storms, and Anne and her father knew there wasn’t much time for a rescue. The island where the family lived was called Isle aux Morts, meaning island of the dead, because of so many people losing their lives off their coast.

Anne, her father, her younger brother, and their large Newfoundland dog, Hairy Man, loaded into a dory and launched into the waves. Newfoundland dogs are known for their brave deeds, and what the family did to save those people made them, and especially Hairy Man, heroes. It’s an unbelievable story, and yet it’s true. History notes how King George IV, king of England, recognized the family as heroes for saving the lives of one hundred and sixty-three passengers, one by one, in treacherous conditions.

Heroes of Isle aux Morts is a must-read story of the ship the Despatch, the Harvey family, a Newfoundland dog, and a historical rescue at sea. Alice Walsh, formerly from Newfoundland, wrote a breath-taking story of drama and bravery. The illustrations by Geoff Butler are fantastic, showing how rugged and dangerous the rescue was that dark, stormy day.

You can find Heroes of Isle aux Morts by Alice Walsh on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank

Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young GirlBook: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio) 
Date: May 25, 2010)
Genre: Memoir; historical non-fiction
Pages: audio
Price: prices vary according to what format you want
My Rating: raw, real, tragic

I  “read” this book through Audible.com and enjoyed listening to Selma Blair’s reading of it. Her voice and tone made it believable as that of a young girl.

Anne Frank was a writer, not officially, but a very good one who knew how to express herself well through the written word. Anne shared everything that was going through her teenage mind, all her worries, hopes, frustrations, desires,  fears, imaginings. She was a young girl struggling with her emotions in an abnormal way of living, while trying to be brave and making plans for her uncertain future. Anne’s relating of all she and the seven others in hiding with her had to deal with to survive for over two years in a small space was well recorded in what was, at first, to be a private diary. Of course, it would quickly become a stressful situation for them with many different personalities trying to share together. It was a horrible time for them, never sure they were going to be safe until the end of the war or if they would be found out. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

Imagine living in a few rooms with seven other people, both male and female, and not having a toilet that always worked, not being able to flush or run water or play music after a certain time each day because of the fear of being heard. Imagine outgrowing the clothes you were able to bring with you, or them wearing out, and having to make do because you can’t possibly go out to buy more. Imagine the few people knowing where you are risking their own lives to help you survive. Imagine being able to peek outside but never go out, and living in an attic space in the heat of summer without air conditioning. Imagine your food supply running out or rotting – and eating what you can of it anyway – or there being so little left you have hardly enough for everyone until more can be sneaked to you. Imagine being afraid and suspicious every time you hear a sudden loud noise; hearing bombers flying over; afraid the burglars who, at night are breaking into seemingly empty buildings, will discover you by accident. Imagine … life during a war, having to hide from almost everyone, including friends.

In her diary, Anne Frank expressed her thoughts regarding everything from her annoyances over petty things, to her hatred of her mother, to her sexuality –  graphic descriptions included. That last point makes this unabridged version not as much one for young readers unless approved by parents.

Anne’s diary ended abruptly, as – with no warning – her short life again changed drastically. If you want to know what it was like for Jews (and others) having to be in hiding during World War II, this book gives much detail of life from the inside of that.

You can find Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂