27 September 2019

NB New Brunswick

A bit quiet here owing to a late summer/early autumn visit to St Andrews, New Brunswick. I brought along a couple of books, but read little apart from menus and historical plaques. Still, I couldn't escape things literary. We stayed at Dominion Hill Inn (above), once the summer home of Mary Louise Curtis, lone child of Cyrus H.K. Curtis, owner of the Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal, amongst several dozen other publications.

An old Loyalist town, St Andrews' population is small – 1786 according to the most recent census – which is not to suggest that it doesn't have a significant, somewhat depressing, claim to CanLit fame. This plaque, affixed to the outside wall of the post office, tells all:

On our third day, we ventured one hundred kilometres west to St John, where I spotted this tribute to Alden Nowlan over an empty parking stall.

I was introduced to Nowlan's poetry in university. I'm ashamed to share that I'd never heard of Daphne H. Paterson. Drivers in search of parking spaces will find portraits of Walter Pidgeon and Donald Sutherland to the right.

St John being the hometown of my not-so-secret crush May Agnes Fleming, I was hoping that some literate soul might point to a house – or footprint of a house – in which she'd lived.

No such luck.

Sadly, the name of our bestselling novelist of the nineteenth century brought blank stares. Despite best efforts, I could't find one of her novels in the city's bookstores.

Am I wrong to think that her portrait and name belong over a parking stall?

Addendum: Our drive to St Andrew was divided in two. The first leg took us to Montreal, where we rested overnight in the home of my mother-in-law. The second leg – ten hours when travelling with a puppy – sent us through Quebec's Eastern Townships and the State of Maine. Our route took us close to Stephen King's Bangor home, but nothing frightened us so much as this sight in Madison:


  1. Wow, it looks beautiful and I always enjoy plaques with detailed descriptions. It IS discouraging when a town doesn't recognize a favorite writer, though. I love Susan Glaspell, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer whom I learned about, oddly, from Persephone. When planning a trip, I tried to find out if the town of Davenport, Iowa, had a museum for her. No. No wonder she fled Davenport!

    1. I share your feelings, Kat. Barring the recently published, I find that town libraries usually don't have any books by homegrown authors. A favourite example is the neglect shown Robert E. Knowles by the public library in Cambridge, Ontario. He was not only a bestselling, internationally published author, but was one of the town's most prominent and influential citizens. If interested, I wrote of my findings in this early blog post: Galt's Damaged Pastor Novelist .