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Just a Minute More: Glimpses of Our Great Canadian Heritage

Boulton, Marsha

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ISBN 10: 1552780724 / ISBN 13: 9781552780725
Published by McArthur & Co Pub Ltd, 1999
Used Condition: Good Soft cover
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Softcover. Sound, clean & nice copy, light rubbing/edgewear to wraps. Bookseller Inventory # 859556n

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Just a Minute More: Glimpses of Our Great ...

Publisher: McArthur & Co Pub Ltd

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Trade Paperback

Book Condition: Good

About this title


A collection of characters and incidents from Canadian history that are sure to entertain and delight.

From the Author:

When I moved to the country 15 years ago, I was approaching 30 and I had spent most of my adult life wearing high heels. As the "People" section editor of Canada's national news magazine, Maclean's, I interviewed celebrities, actors, writers, musicians, poets and politicians. The dimension of my job was such that I was even granted a clothing allowance, since no mortal journalist's salary accommodated the sort of wardrobe that was required to attend everything from embassy parties to film festivals.

In my heyday, I would have scoffed at the notion of trading the chance to have cocktails with Sophia Loren for a barn full of sheep. My childhood love of horses was confined to attending the opening night of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Queen's Plate. When I watched Green Acres on television, I identified with Eva Gabor.

Things change. One day I found myself driving through the southwestern Ontario countryside near the town of Mount Forest with a real estate agent. We stopped. I walked through a huge Victorian farmhouse set on acres of rolling land and wood lot. The next thing I knew, I was signing my name on a dotted line and making mortgage payments. I was in love.

When you think you have found paradise the dream becomes an envelope that seals out reality. I was riding the on-ramp of the Information Highway and a writer's tools are as portable as a modest claret and a ham sandwich. With a keyboard, a fax machine and a modem any village is global. I figured I could live cheaply in the country, grow healthy food, write and make some money raising sheep. I only picked sheep because they looked small enough for me to manage and they don't bite.

You can learn a lot from books, but nothing can really prepare you for farming. I was filled with visions of flowers and trees, newborn foals on wobbly legs, lambs gamboling in the fields and the smell of freshly mown hay. Reality is red-ink and rabies and that one little lamb that just doesn't make. It's sort of the difference between Stephen King and Garrison Keillor or Straw Dogs and Lassie. Somewhere in between, there is an opportunity to find a balance and a sanity.

For many years, I did not write about my life on the farm. I was too busy making mistakes and learning from them. My neighbours, who populate this book, remain my greatest teachers. Becoming part of their community was the first hurdle I faced.

My farm is forever engrained in the geographic and cultural mind-set as "the Noonan farm," or more specifically, "the Tommy Noonan farm." Survivors of the Noonan clan are scattered throughout Minto Township, all descendants of Irish pioneers who squatted in the 1850s and finally cleared enough land to be granted title by the Crown. Two hundred acres and two Victorian farm houses away from mine, stands the still carefully tended Little Ireland graveyard, where the pioneer Noonan, O'Dwyer and Shanahan headstones are aligned as an apostrophe on the past.

Against such a rigid fabric of history, the weaving of a newcomer into the warp is not something that is achieved simply by "buying the farm." Information must be gathered, hardships shared and endured, bowling leagues joined, livestock exhibited, dances attended and euchre hands expertly played. Indeed, information about each newcomer becomes a commodity that is traded as assiduously as soy bean futures, but with far less attention to detail.

When I lived in the city, the only neighbour I knew was my landlord. Nobody else spoke, either to each other or about one another. Nobody cared if unread newspapers stacked up outside an apartment door. In the country, if I do not pick up my mail after two days, Len the mailman drives up the lane to make sure I'm still alive.

I take some comfort in that sort of interest.

It took me some time to get used to the fact that when I drive along my concession road, my travel will be duly noted by someone along the route. The plain fact is that after 15 years, I know all of my neighbours' vehicles by the sound of their tires. When they drive past the end of my lane, I know the direction they are headed and, probably, where they are going.

Shepherds taught me about sheep, although I did pick up some basic notions from my instructors at the University of Guelph. I spent seven years as the Secretary of the Western Ontario Sheep Producers Association. I learned a lot at those meetings, but even more over the doughnuts and coffee afterward. Animal husbandry is an applied science, and you can learn more about it by spending time in a barn with a knowledgeable farmer than you can from charts and graphs.

These assembled missives are not a road map to rural life. They are just signposts. I meet people all the time who say they want to do just what I have done but they cannot figure out how.

All I can say is, if you long to live in the country "do it." Plan for it, but don't plan too long. Life is too short and country roads take too many turns. You may not find paradise, but you'll never know unless you press the edge of the envelope.

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