New and Noticed : Recent Releases in Manitoulin Books and Music

Prolific independent creators inspired by Manitoulin to publish new works

by Isobel Harry

 ‘I am the Sun’ CD by Jamie Ward

Jamie Ward is a musician who has just released his new CD ‘I am the Sun’ with  lyrics, music and arrangements all created and  produced in his home studio in Kagawong. photo by Isobel Harry
Jamie Ward is a musician who has just released his new CD ‘I am the Sun’ with  lyrics, music and arrangements all created and produced in his home studio in Kagawong.
photo by Isobel Harry

Jamie Ward has been making records for 20 years (he’s 40), and has been writing songs since the age of 15. For some years he was ‘Uncle Neptune,’ making children’s music for CBC Radio. He has made ten albums for which he wrote the lyrics and music and performed as singer and guitarist and is on both CDs by the Housewives of Kagawong. His new CD, ‘I am the Sun,’ is an accomplished effort by a musician who is no stranger to studio recording; it was made in his Kagawong home, across the road from wife Jean’s Main Street Cafe. Jamie plays guitar, sings and did the arrangements and backing vocals.  Israeli cellist Anat Nevo contributed some tracks.

“I don’t want to make sacrifices for higher tech,” says the musician, “where your equipment becomes more important than your ideas. Now I’m having fun pushing buttons in the studio. You don’t need a million dollar studio, you can do something good with very little.”

‘I am the Sun’ is “heavily influenced by the Beatles,” says Jamie. “The Beatles were my introduction to music; I was attracted by the high energy and the consistent quality of their craft. I like the classic 60s sounds; the overall feeling of the CD is love, it’s a very loving album, inspired by my five-year-old son and by the 60s values of ‘fighting the machine with love,’ making something positive for a change in a cynical world.”

Jamie Ward came to Manitoulin in 2008 and says the Island “represented a romantic notion that it was possible to become fully realized here. I was a businessman before, in Toronto and Parry Sound, and I was conflicted about being a provider or an artist. The pressure to succeed brought sacrifices to my soul, I actually became ill from it. The feeling I have here is difficult to put into words, but being here is like shedding old skin.”

The CD is melodic, with floaty harmonies and dreamy vocals reminiscent of the Fab Four in their ‘acid’ days, and of other iconic 60s bands like the Mamas and Papas. Thematically, the lyrics touch on life’s important values, the comfort of love, a meditation on his sleeping son, the decision to stop the rat race. ‘I am the Sun’ is quiet in parts and can prompt reflection or winding-down, like a lullaby, but in its more Beatle-ish musical moments, its happy, carefree sound might inspire joining in, like on a country drive with the kids.

‘I am the Sun’ by Jamie Ward is available for $10 at Main Street Cafe in Kagawong, the Island Pantry in Gore Bay and the Island Jar in Little Current.  Also on www.facebook.com/uncleneptune and uncle-neptune.bandcamp.com

‘Ten Decades in the Life of My Dad–And the Lessons I Learned’ by Marion Fraser

Marion Fraser and her beloved dad, George Lincoln Fraser, who is the subject of her first book, ‘Ten Decades in the Life of My Dad--And the Lessons I Learned.’ Distilling memories from a childhood in Gore Bay, her father’s service in the two World Wars and a full life replete with memorable stories, Fraser has published a gentle book of  reminiscences with a broad historical scope.
Marion Fraser and her beloved dad, George Lincoln Fraser, who is the subject of her first book, ‘Ten Decades in the Life of My Dad–And the Lessons I Learned.’ Distilling memories from a childhood in Gore Bay, her father’s service in the two World Wars and a full life replete with memorable stories, Fraser has published a gentle book of reminiscences with a broad historical scope.

Marion Fraser’s first book is a tribute to her father, George Lincoln Fraser, born in Gore Bay in 1898, son of one of the first Scottish settlers in the town, James Fraser, who had arrived from southern Ontario along with his cousin Hector McQuarrie. Until he died at age 99 in 1997, Marion Fraser’s dad George lived through tumultuous times, serving overseas in both world wars and as a builder of homes in Buffalo between the wars and in Toronto through the 1950s.

In 1958, when he was 60-years-old, George Fraser returned to his Island home on the farm at the north end of Thorburn Street in Gore Bay with his second wife and three children. That’s where his daughter Marion grew up, “gaining a deep appreciation of nature which I learned from my father.”

“Even though my Dad was a quiet man, he shared with me his stories and he shared with me his soul. His advice was always sage and he took a deep interest in the lives of his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren.”

Ms. Fraser’s book is divided into the 10 decades of her father’s life and is “a social history of Canada as well as a personal history of my father,” says the author who has worked in the Ontario energy sector for the last 30 years, and is now a consultant in the field in Toronto.

‘Ten Decades’ was written over a period of more than 12 years while Ms. Fraser continued her full-time job. She began writing in Tain, Scotland where her great-grandfather was born in 1810, and continued “anywhere I could see water,” from Muskoka to a cruise in the Caribbean.

“For me, writing it was a labour of love and an opportunity to revisit the many lessons I learned through knowing him, his life, his hopes, his dreams and his disappointments,” says the author. “My dad would reminisce quietly when I came up to spend vacations with him. He had a great sense of humour. He loved to read and enjoyed good movies and in his later years we watched many together. But mostly he worked hard. He always did whatever was necessary, but only after thinking the task through and figuring out the best way to accomplish his goals. When he was 82, he decided to tear down the farmhouse and he built an energy-efficient small home there.”

Ms. Fraser says she wrote the book for her father’s great-grandchildren and her grand-nieces and nephews, many of whom never met George Lincoln Fraser. “One’s sense of self is inextricably linked to one’s sense of history, particularly a sense of social history.” ‘Ten Decades’ situates a loving daughter-father relationship within the historical upheavals and technological changes of those times, encompassing the local life and lore of Gore Bay and beyond.

Hard and soft cover copies and e-book

format are available

at www.friesenpress.com/

bookstore and at Amazon.ca, i-Tunes, and Indigo/Chapters. Prices vary depending on format – $10 to $38 range.

‘The Spring Window’ by Linda Willson with illustrations by Elizabeth Lehman

Author Linda Willson, right, and illustrator Elizabeth Lehman at the launch of Willson’s second book of poems of the four seasons, ‘The Spring Window,’ at the Gore Bay Museum in June. photo by Jan McQuay
Author Linda Willson, right, and illustrator Elizabeth Lehman at the launch of Willson’s second book of poems of the four seasons, ‘The Spring Window,’ at the Gore Bay Museum in June.
photo by Jan McQuay

As Linda Willson sat by a window at home in Ice Lake, observing the seasonal changes in the crab-apple tree, she became inspired to write her ‘poems of the four seasons’—her first book, ‘The Winter Window’ (2003), with affecting, wintry illustrations by James Colville, is now joined by ‘The Spring Window,’ just published, with the soft pastel crayon drawings of Elizabeth Lehman.

Ms. Willson, a multi-faceted creative dynamo who also runs ‘Our Garden’ line of preserves made from the organic produce she and husband Chuc harvest each year, spends a lot of time in their large, prolific garden. A former teacher with specialisation in young adults with learning challenges, she has an abiding interest in “how language is acquired” and in getting reluctant or challenged readers to read. “The poetry in the Window books,” says the writer, “is written in a variety of forms and together with the cardinal and ordinal numbers, is a springboard for language and numeracy development. It is also a great opportunity to challenge adult literacy learners who can easily read the simple language in a mature context.”

A serious undertaking given colour and life in words and drawings that use those beloved tools of childhood, crayons, transforming learning into sensory pleasure and yes, fun.

Elizabeth Lehman has worked as an artist for sixty years—winning numerous awards—in all styles and media, including pottery and sculpture, producing well over 2,000 pieces of art characterized by attention to detail, symbolism and metaphor. Serendipity brought Ms. Willson and Ms. Lehman together: Linda Willson’s mother and Elizabeth Lehman had become very good friends at the Manitoulin Lodge, a nursing home in Gore Bay, where Ms. Willson was a regular visitor. “It was only after mom passed that I discovered their friendship and Elizabeth’s artwork. I showed Elizabeth my poems and she responded to the ideas with her beautiful visual renditions. In The Spring Window she captures the essence of childhood through her colourful crayon pictures. I made this book with her in memory of my mom.”

Ms. Willson self-publishes her books under the Window Publishing imprint, and recommends the experience for the “wonderful sense of accomplishment” it brings. “I did it all myself,” she says. “Publishing is only half the job; the other half is marketing.” She promotes her work at readings for adults and kids, book fairs and in libraries and schools.

The Spring Window and The Winter Window are available for sale ($15 each or both books for $25) at the Gore Bay Museum, Susan’s in Gore Bay, the Island Jar in Little Current and by emailing the author at icelakegarden@gmail.com