MARGAREE FORKS, N.S. - The Coady & Tompkins Memorial Library in Margaree Forks, Cape Breton, has an “all-star” Atlantic Canadian line-up all set to go for its ninth annual Canada Day Literacy Festival.
The impressive list of authors includes; St. F.X. alumnus Linden MacIntyre - investigative journalist, author, 2009 Giller Prize winner, most recent book The Only Café, Oisin Curran - 2018 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award winner for Blood Fable, Sharon Bala - CBC Canada Reads 2018 nominee for debut novel The Boat People, Kathleen Winter - Giller Prize 2007 nominee and Governor Generals Award nominee for Lost in September, and Carol Off - host of CBC’s As it Happens and investigative author of several books, most recently All We Leave Behind.
“Celebrating with some of the region’s finest writers and musicians, the Canada Day readings in Margaree reminds us that we are a literary coast as well as a musical one, with several of this year’s internationally acclaimed readers coming from just down Route 19 in Cape Breton,” a release promoting the event reads.
“In recent years, this event has had the privilege of welcoming such celebrated Canadians as Donna Morrissey, Alexander MacLeod, Lesley Crewe, Johanna Skibsrud, Lynne Coady, Ian Brown, Silver Donald Cameron and the late Alistair MacLeod.”
Maria Coady, from
event sponsor the Margaree Area Development Association, noted the format includes the authors speaking about, and reading from, their work for, roughly, 20 minutes each. She noted a couple of emcees who provide introductions and help facilitate that part of the festival.
“This year we’ll probably have two or three readings and then we’re going to do the dedication to Ron Caplan,” Coady said, referencing a special recognition for the publisher, writer, folk-historian, and Member of the Order of Canada, who resides in Sydney.
Caplan will be recognized for his 27 years of “travelling the island of Cape Breton gathering and sharing every day, yet extraordinary, stories, contained in 74 issues of the Cape Breton Magazine; 5,000 pages of material,” the release noted.
“There are people from Cape Breton University (CBU) who will be coming and doing the dedication, the formalities,” Coady said. “And there will actually be a scholarship started in his name, at CBU, that is going to be launched July 1 as part of the dedication.”
Coady said the rest of the author readings will follow the dedication ceremony and then there is the opportunity to mix and mingle with the special guests while enjoying a Canada Day cake and refreshments.
“We have really nice grounds around our library, so we just all go outside,” she said.
“We’ll have a large tent set-up; we have the cake, lovely fresh rhubarb juice that we make - that grows right here in Margaree, and this is the chance for anybody who wants to have a chat with any of the authors … this is that opportunity.”
As for feedback from the authors who have participated in the past, Coady said it usually starts with them acknowledging the setting.
“Authors will often preface their readings by saying how thrilled they are to be standing inside the Coady & Tompkins Memorial Library,” she said. “They fully get it; they understand the work of [Moses] Coady and [Jimmy] Tompkins. And, certainly, they’re all brief before they come, if there is any chance they don’t know.
“Yes, we hear that over-and-over again, how honoured they feel to be here, to be in Margaree, to be inside this library, and rub shoulders with the people here and other authors. We try as hard as we can to identify authors who have a link to the Maritimes and, particularly, Cape Breton,” Coady said, noting the intimate setting (room to seat 100) is also an attraction.
“There is no fee, they come on their own dime, which also speaks to their desire to come,” she said.
The event begins at 2 p.m. and admission is by donation with cash or credit card methods available.