Bruce MacDonald is set to launch his second volume of stories about those who made the ultimate sacrifice, during the First World War.
He’ll be doing two book launches, as well as a sale event, this week, for First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 – 1937.
The first launch will be this Saturday (Nov. 25) at the Cyril Ward Memorial Library in Guysborough. It will begin at 11 a.m.
The following day (Nov. 26), he’ll be conducting a book sale in Sherbrooke, at Temperance Hall, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
MacDonald will be in Antigonish for a book launch, Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the Heritage Museum, beginning at 7 p.m.
“The stories in the second volume cover the soldiers and military personnel who died in 1918 and the years following the war,” he said, talking to the Casket Nov. 15.
“There were 72 stories in the first volume and there are 64 in the second.”
He talked about the Guysborough connections for those in the book.
“The vast majority of the people in the book were born in Guysborough but there are a few from communities peripheral to Guysborough,” he said.
“I have one guy who was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts but his parents were from Canso and, subsequently, moved back to Canso after he was born. But, virtually, everyone in the book has a connection to Guysborough; either family connection or another connection of some kind.”
He talked about the breakdown as far as communities and noted how it demonstrates the robust activity in places such as Canso and Sherbrooke, in those years.
“Thirty-five communities within the county lost, at least, one person,” he said. “The concentration was, interestingly, in the Canso area; Canso lost eight, Hazel Hill two, and smaller communities in and around Canso lost 10. So it’s interesting when you think of Canso today and the outmigration of people and the fishery, but, at that time, 100 years ago, it was a really burgeoning area in terms of male population.
“The second area is, actually, the Sherbrooke area which lost 12; again, with surrounding communities there. And 10 in the Guysborough town and area there.
“I think the big thing that comes out of that, for me, is how much of an impact it would have had on the families and small communities at that time; to lose a significant number of their young men in such a short period of time.”
MacDonald talked about the origins of starting the research which has led to two volumes.
“My grandmother had two brothers who served overseas,” he said. “My first volume, one of her brothers is there; Robert Burns was killed Nov. 25, 1915 in Belgium; that story really got me started. Her other brother, Ed, survived the war and came home. He served throughout 1918 with one of the Royal Highlanders of Canada battalions out of Montreal.
“So I had a family connection and curiosity there which got me started and, once I was into it, it was trying to figure out what I could do with all of these stories that was manageable.”
MacDonald noted his original list had 99 names and that, eventually, grew to 134.
I haven’t found anyone who should have been in the first volume, no one from 1915 to 1917 yet … that’s not saying they don’t exist” he said.
“While I was doing the second book, I found, at least, two that I didn’t know of,” he added, noting he found them in time to be included in the second volume.
As for the timing of the release, MacDonald said it was important to him to have it out before 2018.
“Before we commemorated the 100th anniversaries of those deaths,” he said. “To me, it was important to have it available so people can read the stories as we go through the following year and commemorate the 100th anniversary of each soldiers’ death. August particularly, when we get into what is known as Canada’s Hundred Days; a significant part of the war for Canadian soldiers – August and September of 1918. So I wanted the book out well in advance of that.
“And, certainly Remembrance Day and the Christmas season, it corresponds with a good time to release a book.”
Along with the launches, books are available online through the Bantry Publishing website and Facebook page.
“I was a novice at promoting the first book but, since that time, I have a webpage, a Facebook page, which is basically connected to my self-publishing – Bantry Publishing,” MacDonald said, noting as well he is connecting to community sites to bring awareness about the volumes, as well as contribute with passages about soldiers.
“What I’ve been doing for all of the soldiers on the 100th anniversary of their deaths, I post something on the Guysborough genealogy Facebook site and, if there is a community site for that soldier, I’ll post it there,” he said.
“There is more of a network there now, that I’ve established using the community websites, so it gets the word out better now.”