Written and illustrated by Terry Culbert.
Grades 7 - 12 / Ages 12 - 17.
Working away in his dimly lit and cluttered shop is a bearded bear of a man called Lloyd Johnston. Using a coal forge along with hammers and tongs, you'd swear you'd stepped back into the nineteenth century. "The family's been blacksmithing for five generations," said Lloyd. . . .
"I was educated to be an electrical engineer," said Lloyd, "but when I graduated, I found that working with iron was more interesting to me. My schooling hasn't been a total waste because some of the principles of engineering have been a help. I just find that working with my hands is more satisfying than sitting behind a desk.". . . .
He spends a good deal of his time doing custom pieces for pioneer museums and historical sites. He's done structural steel work on the movie set of "Agnes of God" and also on the television series "Road to Avonlea".
THE AUTHOR OF COUNTY ROADS is probably well known to viewers of Global Television, who may also be familiar with some of the contents of this book, made of material Terry Culbert gathered for his popular television program. But for me it was all new, and I just kept reading from one story to the next, much as I would dip into a bag of peanuts -- couldn't seem to stop myself.
Besides being full of human interest, these stories of unusual people Culbert has interviewed for television are well illustrated with the author's cartoons or photographs. Most of the stories have two pages -- one for the story itself, the other for a full-page illustration. There are a few exceptions with longer stories and more than one illustration.
The subjects range from an unusual breed of lambs to a buffalo ranch; from a painter of First Nations people to a maker of handcrafted pine furniture. Well-known Canadians like Billy Bishop and Sir Harry Oakes are here, but there are also people who painstakingly work at their chosen careers -- denture makers, sign makers, blacksmiths, and watchmakers among many others. Over all, it struck me as a very typically Canadian book.
But in this age of computer spell checkers, doesn't anyone proofread assiduously? Though I know from past experience how easy it is for typos and misspelled words to escape an author's eye, in school-teacher fashion I found myself irritated by a number of lapses in this book. As I read further, however, I was so beguiled by the stories I persuaded myself I was being altogether too pernickety. If there is a second printing though (and I think there should be!), I've made a list which will be available on request. . . .
Highly recommended on many levels: high interest, attractive design, well illustrated, excellent vignettes of life in Ontario, and best of all, good value at this reasonable price.
Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
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