Autumn is nearly upon us and with it comes a new round of touring with my new book, Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest. We’ll start with Ontario, where I have a busy schedule of reading events, the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa conference, and media interviews. The highlight will be the Peterborough event in celebration of Ontario Home Child Day September 28, although the event will be held the day before at Northminster United Church. The program has been organized by the ever-resourceful Ivy Sucee, who at 90 years young, may be one of Peterborough’s most active citizens. It’s fitting that she has received both Peterborough’s Lifetime Achievement Award and a Queen’s Jubilee Medal for her work on behalf of the former Hazelbrae Home that saw 9,000 children, mostly girls, pass through its doors on the way to indentured labour on local farms.
It’s important for artists to remember: We are in service of the song, not our own egos. In part that means constantly reminding ourselves that we all stand on the shoulders of others to accomplish what we do, whether it’s other authors and artists, our social structure, family members or spouses. In that spirit, I’m grateful to my publisher Paul Wilson at Hagios Press, Regina, for immediately believing in my book and backing that up with amazing support. This at a time when a family health crisis has taken up much of his energy. Hagios is supporting the Ontario tour by hiring AJC Media Group, Solange Nicholson and Andrea Christian, to do the publicity for the tour. Already they’ve done an excellent job.
Further heartfelt thanks must go out to Gary Geddes and the many other writers who have supported this book tour. Gary in fact was instrumental in directing me to Hagios Press and his letter of introduction probably got me past the usual publisher’s ‘slush pile,’ surely the equivalent of Purgatory for every author. I met Gary at a poetry workshop in Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre about three years ago. I’d cut my teeth as a young poet on his classic 20th Century Poetry and Poetics so I leapt at the chance to meet him. It was a case of instant affinity and he has been incredibly generous in his support of my writing. Meeting his wife Ann Eriksson, a biologist who has turned her prodigious talents to writing novels, was another bonus. Her novels High Clear Bell of Morning and Falling From Grace blend an ecological sensibility with storytelling mastery. This author clearly gets that she is in service of the song.
My gratitude would not be complete without acknowledging my partner in life Anne Champagne, who has a knack for planning travel itineraries. That’s besides being a first-rate copy editor—one of the best in the country—whose sharp eye passed over drafts of Children’s Ghosts before it ever went to Hagios. Though she modestly understates her abilities she’s also a fine writer and a fine human being.
There have been some generous things said about my writing in Children’s Ghosts. I post them here in the spirit of gratitude that my work has touched readers. Cole Harris, Professor Emeritus of Historical Geography, UBC, calls the book “A significant achievement in Canadian history.” British historian Andrew Simpson, based in Manchester, wrote: “Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest is an important contribution to the history of the British Home Children. … the book is bigger than just a collection of stories for the last section raises very real questions about an economic, political and social system which created such inequalities and poverty and in turn allowed the migration of children to seem a real solution. What I particularly like is the way each case study weaves from the person to the bigger picture always placing each individual in its historical context referencing back to the issues and arguments of the period. So there is much scholarship here with excellent notes and references but presented with a light touch.”
Gary Geddes recently published a review of Children’s Ghosts in the Vancouver Sun, writing that, “Joyce writes with passion, all the more so for having discovered that he is a descendant of a Home Child. And he has the skill to make the story dramatic by using intimate close-ups, focusing on individual histories, documenting the day-to-day struggles a number of these reluctant immigrant children had making a new life, most never to see their parents or siblings again. With a poet’s eye, (Joyce) often finds the exact image to make his story fly beneath the radar and nest in the ear and eye.” Author Rita Moir says, “Joyce has found his niche in the melding of heart and politics.” (http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/books/Ghosts+politics+past+haunt+Joyce+profound+work/10140776/story.html)
So—on to the tour! Here are the dates for those who are interested in coming out to hear one of my presentations while we’re in Ontario. I look forward to meeting you all and hearing your own family stories of Home Children ancestors.
- Wednesday, September 10, 3 pm
Niagara Historical Museum, 43 Castlereagh St., Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL)
- Saturday September 13, 2 pm
Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, 33 Victoria St. N., Southampton
- Monday, September 15, 7 pm
Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library, 824 1st Ave. W., Owen Sound
- Tuesday, September 16, 7 pm
Mady Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Dunlop St. W., Barrie
- September 19, 20, 21 (Fri. to Sun.)
British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Conference
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St., Ottawa
- Tuesday, September 23, 6:30 pm
Belleville Public Library and John M. Parrott Art Gallery, 254 Pinnacle St., Belleville
- Thursday, September 25, 2 pm
Brockville Museum, 5 Henry St., Brockville
- Saturday, September 27, 1 pm: Ontario Home Child Day celebration hosted by Ivy Sucee
Northminster United Church, 300 Sunset Blvd., Peterborough