Jack McQuarrie’s ever-popular stories of Island skullduggery return to the printed page

Dr. Len Piché displays the highly popular book, ‘Murders and Mysteries of the Manitoulin District,’ and a map that is now included in the book that shows the location of each of the featured incidents.

MANITOULIN – There are few individuals who have done more to record and preserve the history and stories of Manitoulin Island and the North Shore than Willis John (Jack) McQuarrie, the prolific author and former publisher of the Recorder. The downside of the popularity of his books is that many have sold out and are now not available outside of a library vault. But thanks to one of Mr. McQuarrie’s many fans, Dr. Len Piché of London (who owns property on Manitoulin), his work ‘Murders and Mysteries of the Manitoulin District’ has been reprinted in a limited edition, complete with a new pull-out map marking the location of each murder and mystery and is once again available for sale.

Mr. McQuarrie is very happy to have his book once more available, said his wife Arlene. “He wouldn’t have given Dr. Piché permission if he wasn’t,” she laughed. “Dr. Piché had a copy of the foldout map that is in the new edition mounted on wood and gave it to him. We had it up on the wall of the old place, but we will be putting it up here at our new place in town.”

Dr. Piché noted that he first made the acquaintance of Mr. McQuarrie several years ago, when he had first purchased property on Manitoulin.

“I had bought a copy of ‘Manitoulin, Island of the Ottawas’ that was published by John Major that had a lot of the information about the Island in it,” he recalled. “I had misplaced the book and was trying to find a copy of that book,” he said. “I called the Gore Bay Union Public Library, but they had never heard of it. She suggested Jack McQuarrie’s books, but would not release it on interlibrary loan.”

Dr. Piché contacted Mr. McQuarrie. “He being Mr. Manitoulin,” said Dr. Piché.

“That’s the first we’ve heard of this Mr. Manitoulin thing,” chuckled Ms. McQuarrie.

Mr. McQuarrie had a couple of copies of ‘Manitoulin, Island of the Ottawas’ and agreed to send Dr. Piché one. The pair soon struck up a great friendship and Dr. Piché would be sure to drop in on the couple whenever he was in the area.

Dr. Piché tried to convince Mr. McQuarrie to reprint the book with a map showing the location of the mysteries and murders chronicled within, but Mr. McQuarrie was on to other projects and suggested Dr. Piché take on the project instead.

Challenges in obtaining permission to use a copy of a map of Cockburn Island led Dr. Piché to The Expositor, and its production manager Dave Patterson.

“Dave told me he had a map that I could use for the project,” said Dr. Piché. “Then I hired a young lady to (Nicky Newman) to help me put together a list of where the murders and mysteries had taken place.”

A series of back and forth discussions with Ms. Newman and Mr. McQuarrie ensued to ensure the markers were in the correct positions.

The pullout map is a great addition to the work, with red stars marking the murders and yellow stars showing where the mysteries occurred. There are a total of 14 murders and 64 mysteries listed in the book and they make for great summer reading fare. Some presented challenges in the mapping process, such as the Danny Dodge story, as a monument on Maple Point in Kagawong may commemorate the tale, but his death occurred in the bay.

The new copies of ‘Murders and Mysteries of the Manitoulin District’ are available at The Expositor’s Print Shop Books in Little Current and in Gore Bay at the Manitoulin West Recorder. The book retails for $24.95 plus HST.