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Books

Read A Brand New Apocalyptic Story By Defenders Author Will McIntosh!

Posted September 2, 2014 by Charlie Jane Anders

Read A Brand New Apocalyptic Story By Defenders Author Will McIntosh!

Hugo Award-winning writer Will McIntosh has blown us away with novels like Love Minus Eighty and Defenders — but he’s also shown a unique spin on the apocalypse in his book Soft Apocalypse. And now, he’s written a unique apocalyptic vision for the anthology The End Is Now, and we’re excited to share it with you.

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Books

How face-to-face contact makes us happier

Posted September 1, 2014 by Brian Bethune

The socially rich are getting richer, and the socially poor are only getting poorer

The post How face-to-face contact makes us happier appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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Books

6 memorable final passages from Canadian literature

Posted September 1, 2014 by macleans.ca

Spoiler alert! This is how some great works of Canadian Literature end.

The post 6 memorable final passages from Canadian literature appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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Books

Sweetland: A superb fourth novel from Michael Crummey

Posted August 31, 2014 by Brian Bethune

A novel of loss and surprising resilience

The post Sweetland: A superb fourth novel from Michael Crummey appeared first on Macleans.ca.

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Books

Naomi Wakan Poet Laureate

Posted August 20, 2014 by davids

In October 2013 Gabriola Island resident Naomi Wakan was appointed the first poet laureate of the city of Nanaimo, Canada. Her forthcoming book, Naomi in Nanaimo, will collect her Nanaimo poet laureate poems.

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Books

The Most Powerful Lines in The Giver are Four Words Long

Posted August 17, 2014 by Anonymous

The new movie version of Lois Lowry’s The Giver has been criticized for being “just another dystopian teen movie,” but it has some powerful things to say about masculinity.

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Books

Working in a Library at a University

Posted August 11, 2014 by Laura Brown

I like looking at job requirements in the communications industry. This one was posted for a university in Ontario, a non-student position. Requirements: •Grade 12 diploma •Recent college or university graduate (asset) •One, up to two years, in a related…

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Books

Regrets, I’ve Had a Few… But Would You Change Anything?

Posted August 1, 2014 by Nikki Stafford
A couple of weeks ago I read two books that had just come out, by authors I’d read before and loved. The first was Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley, he of Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series fame. Scott Pilgrim is a six-book series about a guy living in Toronto in his early 20s, battling the ex-boyfriends of the girl he wants to be with. Secondsis a one-off standalone novel about Katie, a girl living in what seems more like Southwestern Ontario (where O’Malley is originally from, and where I now live after moving here from Toronto a couple of years ago), in her 30s, at a certain point in her life where she’s questioning the decisions she’s made to get to this point. As anyone who is 40 or older can tell you, life seems to follow a certain expected trajectory: childhood, then choosing your future as a teenager, when you are insane and hormonal and should NEVER be making life decisions, but there it is. Your 20s are for getting a start in that life and shooting off in the direction you chose as the crazy teenager, your 30s are for moving up in whatever life direction you’ve chosen, and your 40s are to start sitting back and enjoying the ride, because you’ve made it to the top.

In theory.

But see, often (not always, I should add), somewhere in your mid-30s, you realize maybe you’re not quite there. And a quick check into the future tells you you’re not going to get there. You’ve started changing. You’ve met new people, you’ve discovered new things, and suddenly that life trajectory that seemed perfect in your stupid teenage years isn’t so rosy anymore.

I didn’t have a single regret at age 34. At 40, I have several.

And that’s where Katie’s finding herself. She opened a fabulous restaurant with friends called Seconds, and it’s become THE hot spot in town. But she was the chef, not the owner, and over time many of the friends bailed, and the owner became distant, and she’s decided to set out on her own and buy a building downtown, near a bridge, and fix it up so it’ll become her new restaurant, called Katie’s. But the building is more decrepit than she thought it would be. And she can’t seem to stay away from hanging around Seconds. And then there’s that guy she was madly in love with whom she let go a few years ago, who keeps coming to the restaurant and making her regret her choices.

And then one night, an accident happens at the restaurant that she causes.

When she returns to her room, there’s a blonde girl sitting atop her dresser, hunched over like a little pixie, and gives her the opportunity to eat one mushroom, write down the one thing she wants to change on a pad of paper, and in the morning, poof… the accident no longer happened, and things are set aright. You can only do this once, she’s told. But… what if she did it just one more time?

Or, maybe… a few more times?

Seconds is a fabulous book, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I adored the Scott Pilgrim series, but Secondsis more mature, and the illustrations are gorgeous.

The other book I picked up was Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I first discovered Rowell’s writing last year when I read Fangirl, and thought it was an excellent examination of fandom and the way fans feel around non-fans, people who think we spend too much time on the internet or blogging, and the argument about fan fic vs. original fiction. Rowell, who is one of the best fan fic writers on the interwebs, was clearly writing from experience, and I instantly felt a connection to her main character. And then I picked up Eleanor & Park, which is one of the most extraordinary YA novels I’ve ever read. Yes, I did my due diligence as a YA reader and also read The Fault in Our Stars right after, and yet E&P resonated with me so much more. It was beautiful, and real, and set around the very time I was experiencing my own first love, and we connected the same way Eleanor and Park do: through Smiths records.

Landline is the story of a woman who writes for television, and who gets her big break for the pilot she’s been shopping around with her colleague for years. The catch: she has to write the first four episodes before Christmas, which is 10 days away, and therefore she can’t go away to Omaha to see her husband’s family for Christmas. Her husband, tired of her putting work before family again, picks up the girls and takes them anyway, leaving her behind, and he refuses to answer his cellphone for days. Alone, confused, upset, regretful, and not sure what to do, she goes to her parents’ house, the same one she grew up in, and one night pulls out the old yellow rotary phone to call her husband. And… he picks up. But his father picks up first. The father who died a couple of years ago.

When she realizes this rotary phone is somehow a conduit into the past, she’s suddenly faced with a possibility: can she have discussions in the present that will affect her decisions in the past? Could she say or do something right now that will alter what happened before, and change the trajectory of her life?

I loved the book, and thought Rowell hit the emotions right on the head on every page. And I was equally surprised that the theme was so close to O’Malley’s book. Here I was picking up books from two authors I really enjoy reading, and both of them are tackling the same issue: getting to a certain point in our lives and questioning everything that came before. And, through magic realism, allowing their characters to explore the possibility of changing those decisions to see what might happen to them.

Like every reader will no doubt do, I closed both of these books wondering what I would change. I’m someone who tends to think things through five steps ahead of the present one (which is why I don’t take many risks, probably), and so every time I thought of something I might like to change, I traced the consequences of that action, and there was always a price to pay.

I wish I’d kept up this blog more, instead of letting people leave in a mass exodus because I was so exhausted when Lost ended that I just couldn’t keep up the pace after the final book came out. But if I’d kept focused on the blog, I wouldn’t have time to do the freelance work I do now, or read as many books, or spend time with my kids. I still write on here occasionally, and get a total of four comments (one of which is inevitably pointing out something big I missed in my rushed review), and that’s my new normal.

There’s the book writing opportunity I was offered four years ago that I turned down because I’d just finished the final Finding Lost book, and it turned out to be a much bigger opportunity than I would have guessed, which has devastated me. After years of working as a professional writer, this would have been the big time. And I blew it. But again, I would have spent the last four years travelling and being away from my family, and with so much upheaval here, I probably couldn’t have done that. I can deal with a missed opportunity, as hard as it’s been, but I couldn’t possibly deal with anything shaking up the strong family I have. Perhaps another opportunity will come, one that will allow me to stay put and still write. 

So much has happened to me in the past four years — both very good and very bad — and when it’s all weighed, I’m a very happy person. I’m the first to say motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but I also see so many people around me without kids who are achieving great things because they don’t have to worry about anyone else (and my husband has definitely had an upward trajectory while I’ve kept the home fires burning), and I gave up my job and city to move to a smaller town so I could spend more time with my kids. I love them with all my heart, and think they’ll always be more important than any blog or book or job will ever be.

Sure, I still have that Marlon Brando moment like everyone else does at some point in their lives. I could have been somebody.

And then I became a mom. And suddenly I was no longer a somebody, and realized I never really would be. But, I’d be the most important somebody to two people. At least, for the next few years I will be. And I realize there are people out there at the top of their game, beloved and/or famous and/or extremely successful, and they have a dresser full of regrets, too. Just like in that BtVS episode “Earshot,” everyone has their own problems and regrets, and no one’s is more important than another’s. 

But if I had a yellow rotary phone, or a pixie sitting atop a dresser with a magic mushroom… who knows what I would wish to change in my past? Would I ever take that risk? Do I really want to, or, when all is said and done, is this the happiest and best outcome there could possibly be?

Would you do it? 

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Books

Be a hero: get good grades and free comics!

Posted July 10, 2014 by Erich Jacoby-Hawkins
Be a hero, kid: get good grades and free comics!

One of the things that made this past Canada Day fun for me was the release of a new comic in one of my favourite franchises – Captain Canuck. Over the years, this all-Canadian hero has taken many forms – starting with a series published in the 70s but set in a fantasy future of the 90s where Canada was a world super-power and humans were actively colonizing space and encountering hostile aliens, helped by the unearthly powers of our own maple-leaf draped superhero.

Although this series only lasted half a decade, the Captain has been “re-born” in the form of a couple of other comic characters since, wearing similar costumes as the original but getting by on bravery and skill rather than super powers. I was also helped crowd-fund an animated web seriesabout another Captain incarnation, whose apparently substantial powers have yet to be fully explained, but whose use of non-lethal weaponry stands in stark contrast to most American action offerings.

One of my favourite things about Captain Canuck being able to interact with his creators, like funding the series or meeting character originator Richard Comely, who regularly appears at various Ontario comic stores to sign comics, do custom drawings, and interact with fans young and old. The most recent edition even features a variant blank cover where Richard can draw in your own custom image!

Mr. Comely was in Barrie just yesterday, hosted by Big B Comics, but if you missed his visit, I’m sure he’ll be back another time. Last time I was at Big B was for another reason, though – so my daughters could access the Comics for Grades promotion.

I wrote about this last year, how Big B generously gives children free comics from their extensive back catalog for each A grade on their report card, to reward academic effort and promote the joy of reading. This year, they’ve sweetened the deal, giving a comic for a full letter-grade improvement between first and second terms, even if your child didn’t make it to A. So if she got a C in science in the fall but advanced that to a B for the end of the year, she gets a free comic, too.

Summer is a great time to get outside and play superhero, but there will also be rainy days when the kids end up in front of a TV or computer or video game. How about making sure they have some exciting reading, to brighten their minds without electronic input? The Comics for Grades program continues until the end of July, so dig out those report cards and see if your children are eligible to get some free fun summer super reading at Big B. My kids have moved on from their earlier super-heroes to the worlds of Adventure Time, the Regular Show, Richie Rich, Bart Simpson, and other silly stories told in picture and prose, which just shows that there are genres to suit children of many tastes. I hope yours develop the same love of the graphic reading arts.

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as “Comics can inspire children to start reading
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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Books

My Name Is Nikki Stafford . . . And I Am an Addict

Posted July 9, 2014 by Nikki Stafford

My friends have always ribbed me as the girl with no vices.

I don’t drink. I don’t drink coffee. I’ve never even taken a puff from a cigarette. I’ve never done recreational drugs of any kind. (Seriously, I’m that boring kid at parties.) I don’t particularly like ice cream or desserts. I love chocolate, but rarely crave it. I’ve never bought expensive shoes, and typically find one pair — whether it’s a pair of Docs or Clark’s — and wear them until the soles are worn off. I don’t buy expensive clothes, and prefer jeans and t-shirts. I don’t buy expensive handbags: I own a single Coach purse that I bought on sale, and have had it for four years and will no doubt wear it for another 10. Until I got that, I’d used the same $10 Old Navy purse for over a decade. I don’t wear jewelry, though occasionally I’ll find something really unique and I’ll buy it, but it’s never more than $50. And we’re talking one of those a year. Maybe. I’m constantly joking with my husband that he doesn’t know how good he’s got it: those credit card bills of ours contain zero extravagances for me.

Well, except for one itty bitty thing…

Back in December, I announced here that I would stop buying books for one year. I acknowledged I had a problem, and I was going to stop buying them by the dozen (no really, I buy armloads at a time) and actually read the hundreds — hundreds — of unread books that surround me on my dozen bookshelves. My house is a library, where there isn’t a single room without a book in it. My kitchen is full of cookbooks (which I actually read like novels), as is the pantry in my dining room. My side table beside the bed has so many stacks of books on it that, as I joked to a friend last week, I knock a book off every morning when I try to hit the alarm’s Snooze button — because of spending five years taking English lit at university, I got so used to reading several books at once that I still do it. My kids have several bookshelves in each of their rooms. The bathrooms are filled with magazines. The family room and living room have shelves of books. Even the guest bedroom, music room, exercise room and storage spaces have books shoved into every free space. And my office has so many books that every shelf is filled, more books are shoved into the free space on top of the books, the tops of the shelves have books, they’re stacked on the floors, and that one shelf where I have put all my Buffy figures? I now eye it daily and think, “OK, Spike, you’ve fallen off that stand so many times that I should just sweep all of you guys into a bag and use this shelf for BOOKS.” But I haven’t gotten there yet.

I’ve read a ton of them. Every shelf probably has 10-15 books on it that I’ve actually read. But that leaves another 10-15 that I haven’t. And that is A LOT.

And so, I decided I wouldn’t buy books this year. Nor would I take any out of the library. I was going to make a concerted effort to read what was on my shelves, and see if I could match the 55 books I managed to read last year.

Then I started making exceptions, and that’s where addictions always fall apart. I belong to two book clubs (sometimes three), and I said whatever books they chose, I’d buy/get from the library so I could keep up. But that’s 24 books right there. Already I’d put a major dent in my Year of Reading From My Own Shelves.

Then, on December 31, I placed an order for 10 books, books that I’d wanted for some time, but now that I’d put a one-year moratorium on my book-buying, I needed them NOW. So after deciding I needed to read some of the hundreds of books on my shelf, I was already up to 10 new ones, and 24 other ones that I’d have to buy/borrow. That left only about 20 that I could read from my own collection. Not even one shelf’s worth.

And then, in February, my children’s school had a book sale to raise money for their library. The kids begged me to take them there after school, and they looked over the books and I told them they could take what they wanted (I’ve never put a limit on books). $1 for a paperback, $2 for a hardcover. And that’s when I saw JK Rowling’s Cuckoo’s Calling on a table in mint condition. Wait, $2 for a brand new book? That’s amazing! Without even thinking, I put it into the stack of books the kids had chosen and went up to pay for them. It’s only as I handed over my money my heart suddenly jolted and I realized, Wait… I can’t buy any books!! Oh no… oh no… So I decided I will give this one to my husband. Yes, that’s the ticket! I can still give books as gifts, yes? And if it just happens to still be on my shelf next year, why then yes, I can read it. Whew. Crisis averted.

Then my birthday happened. And someone gave me an Indigo bookstore gift card. They were barely out the door before I raced to my computer, heart pounding with excitement, and began filling up my cart. Ooh… I went over the amount. Ah well, it’s my birthday, right? I felt my heart beat faster, and my stomach was doing flip-flops of excitement. Two days later the books arrived and I grabbed them excitedly from the mailbox, ripped open the box and smelled them. They smelled WONDERFUL. (This is why I’ve yet to switch to a Kobo…)

Two weeks later two of the books that I’d worked on as an editor arrived in the mail: Wanna Cook, the Breaking Bad companion guide by Dale Guffey and Ensley Guffey, and Elephant in the Sky by Heather Clark (both astoundingly good books, by the way!) Just seeing a book-shaped package gave me shivers of excitement, and I could barely contain myself as I ripped the package open and handled them for the first time. Shortly after, one of my book clubs had their monthly meeting in a bookstore. I saw books that I wanted so desperately — OMG, so-and-so has a new book?! — but knew I couldn’t have them.

And on the way home, I realized no, I can’t do this. In fact, I’d more than proven already that I hadn’t done this at all. I’d failed miserably. My moratorium on books had lasted all of six weeks before I’d fallen off the wagon, and then when someone gave me a gift I was like an addict.

And that was when I realized something even bigger: I’d always joked that I was addicted to buying books, but I really was. The way alcohol or caffeine or drugs give people a high that they can’t get from anything else, that’s how I feel when I buy books. There’s so much possibility between those covers, so many worlds and new people to meet and adventures to be had. If I choose my books wisely, I’ll be introduced to new ways of thinking and new ideas that I’ll be mulling over for weeks, months, even years.

So I gave up. I decided no, I’m not wasting a year of my life not doing one of the things I love most. I have friends who are in serious credit card debts over shoe purchases or expensive clothes-buying binges, and that’s not me. Books are relatively cheap, and they are WONDERFUL.

I love reading books. But I discovered that I might enjoy discovering and buying them even more. I literally have physical changes when I’m in the midst of purchasing a book: my heart really does race, my stomach gets fluttery. I have a buzz and feel overwhelmed with joy. The smell and look of a bookstore makes me so happy. A couple of weeks ago I was in an independent bookstore in San Francisco with my best friend Sue (who also tried the year-long moratorium and failed equally spectacularly) and it made me realize how much I love and long for independent bookstores. I’ll go to a Chapters/Indigo long before I’ll buy something on Amazon, but the fluorescent lights and overwhelming smell of Starbucks and warehouse-like look of the place is no match for the soft lighting, smell of old paper, occasional creaky floors, and hand-selling that happens at an independent. The one I found in SF was called Booksmith’s, in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury district, and I spent SO much time in there reading the dozens and dozens of cards they’d carefully placed under all their favourite books (not just New Releases but everywhere throughout the store) and was madly writing down titles of books that intrigued me, knowing I couldn’t carry every single one of them back to the hotel. I went up to the owner of the store and told him how much I adored his place, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to hear it. I chose a single book by Maud Casey as my prize (based on the card that recommended it), and felt that rise in pulse as I handed over my money for it. After I got home I looked up the store online and discovered there was a whole wealth of bookstores in SF, and maybe I need to make a trip there where I do nothing but shop in bookstores the entire time. Hm… I might actually go into cardiac arrest if I did that…

Many addictions are bad. Whether it’s hard drugs or alcohol that have destroyed lives and families, or shopping sprees or gambling addictions that have crippled people financially, or eating disorders that threaten the lives of their victims, we tend to look at the nature of addiction as something uncontrollable and evil, filled with hurt and pain. I’ve had many friends fight addictions for years, and while not all of them were able to overcome their demons, I’m happy to say many of them have recovered and are leading extraordinary lives now.

I saw my book-buying addiction (and the physical changes, sense of compulsion, and overwhelming high that accompanies it would suggest it is, in fact, an addiction) as something that I needed to curb, that I needed to stop so I could focus on the glorious worlds that currently exist on my bookshelves. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never live long enough to read many of the books I currently own, and that I can’t stop buying new ones. I can let go, though — when we moved the last time, I probably got rid of 100 books (which I offered up to friends first) — so it’s not like a person would come to my house and be tripping over books wherever they go. There is an order to my chaos.

But I love bringing new books home. I love discovering the worlds that exist within them, even if I never actually get to live in those worlds. And when I’m in the midst of a good book — like the one I’m reading right now, actually — it’s hard to concentrate on doing much else because all I want to do is read that book. I’ve always been that person watching prison dramas and thinking, “You know, if I was put into solitary confinement for a year, imagine all the reading I could get done!!!

So I don’t need to curb my addiction. I don’t need to curb that thrill of buying new books. I don’t need to stop discovering new books. I’ve never gotten a credit card bill with a book-buying charge on it that was so high my husband’s eyes bugged out of his head. He spent more money fixing and rewiring his guitars last month than I’ve spent all year on books. In fact, the one good thing that came out of the moratorium was that I gained a whole new appreciation for how much I love buying and reading books. I always said I loved it, but now I truly know that it’s an essential part of who I am.

In fact, for the first time, yesterday I popped into Chapters online and ordered Rainbow Rowell’s new book on the day of its release. (And then had that very 21st-century impatient feeling of, “Geez, I wish they could ship it to arrive RIGHT NOW” about two minutes later…)

And it was so damned exciting.

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Books

A big, exciting thing.

Posted June 27, 2014 by emvandee

In real life I work in communications and any time anyone wants to communicate anything I first have to write a communications plan, which, for the uninitiated, is an extremely boring document detailing your goals, key messages, tactics, deliverables, and how you’ll measure your success. I don’t really like writing them, because I am a BIG PICTURE (impatient) person […]

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Books

Something to Read: Blood, Bones and Butter

Posted May 1, 2014 by emvandee

The best chef’s memoir I’ve ever read was Gabrielle Hamilton’s Blood, Bones & Butter. She’s another writer-chef I heard about through Anthony Bourdain on Twitter, and when I looked Gabrielle Hamilton up, it turns out she’s a bad-ass chef with an MFA in Creative Writing (those are my dream credentials) – I pre-ordered the book (hard cover) and paid […]

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Books

Something to Read: Fresh Off the Boat

Posted April 30, 2014 by emvandee

Fresh Off the Boat is a memoir about food, family, and not fitting in in America. It’s author, Eddie Huang, is a foul-mouthed, hip-hop loving raconteur and restaurateur, a Gen-Y immigrant kid from a Taiwanese family in Orlando. It was Anthony Bourdain who turned me on to him via Twitter, and though he is occasionally problematic and […]

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Books

Something to Read: Between Meals

Posted April 29, 2014 by emvandee

I bought Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris without knowing anything about it because I was about to go to Paris and also it seemed kind of absurd. The back cover describes the author’s experience as a “Rabelaisian initiation into life’s finer pleasures,” and I emitted a Ha! so loud I knew I had to buy […]

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Books

Something to Read: India, Ireland

Posted April 27, 2014 by emvandee

For some of us, it’s been a rough week. On Thursday, the little nugget started running warm and flu-like, and by Friday’s earliest hours, he was in full-blown fever mode, seizing and feverish and feeling pretty awful. We spent Saturday trying to convince his little belly to keep fluids down, and only now is Toddler […]

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Books

Something to Read: On Booze

Posted April 25, 2014 by emvandee

Cocktails before meals like Americans, wines and brandies like the Frenchmen, beer like Germans, whiskey-and-soda like the English, and, as they were no longer in the twenties, this preposterous mélange, that was like some gigantic cocktail in a nightmare. Ugh, this week. I’ve been busy at work, working late the first two days of the […]

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Agriculture

James McCrorie Obituary

Posted November 22, 2013 by Next Year Country

McCRORIE, James

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

- Robbie Burns

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of James Napier McCrorie on November 17, 2013. Jim (though always James to his mother) was born in Montreal Quebec in 1936 to Thomas and Margaret McCrorie, immigrants from Scotland. Jim is survived by his beloved wife and best friend Elaine (nee Cameron), and his children and their spouses whom he loved: Ian, Ann (Alistair Mackenzie), and Aaron (Carmen Abela). Jim was the very proud and loving grandfather of Nicole, Liam, Jenna, Kennedy. Reuben and Keira. An only child, he gained a clan-ful of siblings through the Camerons of Moore Park Manitoba – Don and Joyce Cameron, Niel and Marianne Cameron, Jean and Leo Kristjanson, Hector and Leonora Cameron. He is fondly remembered by all his nieces, nephews, dear friends and comrades of all ages and those who have described him as a second father. 

Growing up in Montreal, Jim learned to speak joual and remained proud throughout his life of his ability to speak the working man’s French. He became a life long fan of the Habs and taught us all that Maurice “the Rocket” Richard was the greatest hockey player ever. Montreal remained dear to his heart throughout his life. Growing up he also learned to play the piano, and while he regretted that lessons and practice kept him from mischief with his pals, we all appreciated the magic his playing brought to many occasions.

All who knew Jim, will remember his love of the sea and trains. He came by it honestly – sailing across the Atlantic to visit his “ain falk” in Ayrshire at 16, working in the dining cars for CP Rail after high school and proudly serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Throughout his life Jim would take the train while others would fly or drive and he had just booked his next big trip, Ottawa to Melville, when he passed away. 

Jim studied sociology at McGill University and got his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The opportunity to work with the Saskatchewan Farmers Union brought this city boy to the prairies which he came to love and provided the subject of his doctoral thesis – “In Union is Strength”. It was while working in Saskatoon that Jim’s friend and colleague Leo Kristjanson introduced him to Elaine Cameron. She eventually forgave Leo and married Jim in 1964 with a memorable reception at the Wright farm south of Saskatoon. Thanks to their love for each other (and Elaine’s patience) they enjoyed almost 50 years of happy marriage. 

The chance to help build a new and teaching-centric program brought Jim to the newly established University of Regina in 1965. It was in Regina that Jim and Elaine raised their family – with two memorable yearlong sojourns in Scotland. As a father Jim instilled an appreciation of honest hard work, love of life and family and a social conscience in his children. And while life was busy he always found time to watch the kids play hockey, volleyball or football. The outcome did not matter, it was the effort that mattered. And as a grandfather Jim continued to teach these lessons and adored spending time with all of his grandchildren.

Jim combined a love of teaching and academia with the passion and conviction to change the world. For Jim, social activism and teaching were inseparable efforts to make the world a better, more socially and economically just place. There were victories and defeats, but the progressive struggle continued – in the classroom, through distance education and on the NDP convention floor. And where Jim wasn’t active, those he taught and mentored were. 

As an academic, Jim took a particular interest in the social effects of North Sea oil development, the life and career of Scotland’s Roderick MacFarquar (“The Highland Cause“) and the experience of Canada’s Spanish Civil War vets. Jim was among those who played a leading role in establishing the Spanish Civil War memorial in Ottawa. 

In the 1980′s, Jim took a break from teaching and became Director of the Canadian Plains Research Center. The job combined his deep love of the prairies with the opportunity to continue learning and teaching by reaching out to similar social and ecological regions as far flung as Nebraska and Kazakhstan. Jim finally retired in 1996, but remained active intellectually (“The Man in the Green Truck“), politically and socially. 

Jim loved to talk with, not to, everyone. No matter where you came from, what you did, or how old you were he wanted to hear your story and learn from you. And while he was passionate in his convictions, he was respectful of those who viewed the world differently. Red-Clyde Marxists, Spanish Civil War vets, musicians, wary teenagers and former Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers were all welcome at the McCrorie dinner table. 

Jim loved to tell stories, sometimes more than once. And he had a great sense of mischief and fun. Supper time, hogmanay, the Brigadier’s lunch, family reunions, visits and all those other occasions that Jim loved so much will sadly be a touch more sedate without his stories, gentle jokes and infectious laugh. 

We loved Jim and he will be missed. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Dr. Paul Schwann Centre’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Chronic Disease Prevention, Management and Risk Reduction Program at the University of Regina (3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, SK S4S 0A2) or the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (500-251 Bank Street, Ottawa, ON K2P 1X3).

Family and friends are invited to sign the online obituary and tributes page at www.regina-memorial.ca. Arrangements entrusted to – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/montrealgazette/obituary.aspx?n=james-mccrorie&pid=168122304#sthash.YvwW1aLR.dpuf

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Agriculture

James N. McCrorie: 1936 – 2013

Posted November 20, 2013 by Next Year Country

Remembering Jim McCrorie

It was a very sad moment to hear of Jim’s passing.

Jim was truly a mentor to all of us who had the privilege of being his friend through his life.


As young students he taught us what radical sociology and critical thinking were all about. Jim reflected the struggles of people from the crofters of Scotland, to the farmers of Canada as social movements for us to learn from, and to appreciate as people’s histories.


With a wry Jim McCrorie smile and humour, he would tell us what really happened in the governance of the land from Tommy Douglas to today.


He was unremitting in his socialism – but with a Scottish pragmatism – looking at outcome as well as theory.


Jim was an inside out person. He lived what he believed – never forgetting his class background – recognizing the education of many to understand the economic and social forces that shape us… as the road to a better world.


Thanks Jim for what you gave us. And as you said and wrote ..In Union Is Strength. Viva Jim!

In Solidarity

Don Kossick in Mozambique, November 18th, 2013


A Celebration of James Napier McCrorie


Céilidh

A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which involves, music, dancing and story telling.

In honour of James N. McCrorie


Saturday, November 30th 2013

6:30-11:30

Edna May Forbes Lecture Theatre
2900 Wascana Drive
Regina, Saskatchewan

Map HERE.


Buy Jim’s memoir “No Expectations” HERE.


“I was born on a Tuesday, at 07:40 hrs.on April 21, 1936 at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. The hospital had been founded in the late 19th century by two business adventurers (i.e. rogues) from near Craigellachie, Banffshire, Scotland. The building had been built on the northern slope of Mount Royal, just above the James McGill estate – now a university. It resembled, in style, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. It was therefore a fitting venue for the son of Scottish immigrants to enter the world and although I was present at the event, I have no recollection of it.” – From the Introduction.


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Books

In praise of audio books

Posted June 18, 2013 by Darren

Podcasts were my gateway drug into audio books. Some time around 2007, I started listening to more books than I read. Some of my first audio…

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