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That's History by John Macfie

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John Macfie will be signing books and chatting with his many fans  between 12 and 2 pm on Saturday 20 June at Parry Sound Books.

With a new book That’s History published just in time for Father’s Day, John Macfie has solved the problem of what to get for Dear Old Dad.

John Macfie calls himself an artist, writer and historian. I’d add Detective to that list. He may have one of the W’s – perhaps the who in an old photography, or the what of an artifact, and he beavers away until he has found as much of the why, where and when as he is able. Then he shares the story with all of us in his Parry Sound North Star articles.

That’s History is a compilation of those articles from the past several years, as well as some additional memoirs. John writes about a Parry Sound that some of you know well, and some of us less so – but everyone will find this book fascinating.

Parry Sound was a going concern in the early days of the town. “Governor” Beatty set out “determined to found a law-abiding, God-fearing community on the East Shore of Georgian Bay.” As I read about the town as it was in the late 19th and early 20th century, I thought how much there was that has disappeared. In this book there is mention of a grist mill on the river, a tannery behind where the Royal Hotel now stands, and a record shop, Fox’s Music, on the main street where John Macfie bought a 78 rpm recording of Count Basie. Also gone is the downhill Ski Club where members gathered in the “Swinging Sixties”, it sounds like quite the place. All of these may be gone, but John Macfie has captured the life they once had in his writing.

John Macfie’s home-farm being in the Dunchurch area there is a lot of history and stories of that community. The early settlers had many challenges, trying to farm on “land too shallow, too stony, too infertile, too swampy – or all four combined.” Some went west, but most stayed and became the ancestors of those who live here now.

I can picture the teenagers that John describes hanging out at the General store listening to the radio. He also writes about the beginning of the tourism “industry” as he recalls the building of the first resort on a nearby lake. Writing about an early photographer, Duncan Fraser MacDonald, and his use of glass plates in the 1870’s, John Macfie brings that time to life.

So, thanks John for capturing our history and saving it for us. It is a delight to read and a real treasure for this community.

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