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Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir

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In this loving memoir Wayne Johnston returns to Newfoundland-the people, the place, the politics-and illuminates his family's story with all the power and drama he brought to his magnificent novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Descendents of the Irish who settled in Ferryland, Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony in Newfoundland, the Johnstons "went from being sea-fearing f In this loving memoir Wayne Johnston returns to Newfoundland-the people, the place, the politics-and illuminates his family's story with all the power and drama he brought to his magnificent novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Descendents of the Irish who settled in Ferryland, Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony in Newfoundland, the Johnstons "went from being sea-fearing farmers to sea-faring fishermen." Each generation resolves to escape the hardships of life at sea, but their connection to this fantastically beautiful but harsh land is as eternal as the rugged shoreline, and the separations that result between generations may be as inevitable as the winters they endure. Unfulfilled dreams haunt this family history and make Baltimore's Mansion a thrilling and captivating book.


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In this loving memoir Wayne Johnston returns to Newfoundland-the people, the place, the politics-and illuminates his family's story with all the power and drama he brought to his magnificent novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Descendents of the Irish who settled in Ferryland, Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony in Newfoundland, the Johnstons "went from being sea-fearing f In this loving memoir Wayne Johnston returns to Newfoundland-the people, the place, the politics-and illuminates his family's story with all the power and drama he brought to his magnificent novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Descendents of the Irish who settled in Ferryland, Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony in Newfoundland, the Johnstons "went from being sea-fearing farmers to sea-faring fishermen." Each generation resolves to escape the hardships of life at sea, but their connection to this fantastically beautiful but harsh land is as eternal as the rugged shoreline, and the separations that result between generations may be as inevitable as the winters they endure. Unfulfilled dreams haunt this family history and make Baltimore's Mansion a thrilling and captivating book.

30 review for Baltimore's Mansion: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Robertson

    Wonderful memoir of growing up in Newfoundland, in a harsh climate, at a time when the fishing industry was in decline and in the aftermath of the 1949 referendum, when the population narrowly voted to stop being a self-governing British Dominion and become the 10th Province of Canada. The author's father and most of his family were bitterly opposed to this move. The theme of identity is central to this thoughtful and finely written book: family, island, country, nation, province - to what do pe Wonderful memoir of growing up in Newfoundland, in a harsh climate, at a time when the fishing industry was in decline and in the aftermath of the 1949 referendum, when the population narrowly voted to stop being a self-governing British Dominion and become the 10th Province of Canada. The author's father and most of his family were bitterly opposed to this move. The theme of identity is central to this thoughtful and finely written book: family, island, country, nation, province - to what do people really belong, and what makes them feel so strongly about such connections? The intensity of father-son relationships in which much more is expressed through silence than through words is also explored. The descriptions of winter storms and journeys are first-class.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Candice Walsh

    Wayne Johnston never fails to give me a book hangover. I feel like this should be required reading for all Newfoundlanders. I actually cried when I finished.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    In reading fiction, I have always preferred circumlocution about facts to simply ignoring them. I prefer Anthony Powell’s “in the neighbourhood of Berkeley Square” or “just off Fitzroy Square” or “somewhere just behind Rutland Gate” (all approximate ‘quotations’ from memory), or full-on invention—a specific street address for a street that exists only in the author’s imagination—than the fictional use of factual places, addresses, directions, etc. And for years I have been mildly annoyed by Wayn In reading fiction, I have always preferred circumlocution about facts to simply ignoring them. I prefer Anthony Powell’s “in the neighbourhood of Berkeley Square” or “just off Fitzroy Square” or “somewhere just behind Rutland Gate” (all approximate ‘quotations’ from memory), or full-on invention—a specific street address for a street that exists only in the author’s imagination—than the fictional use of factual places, addresses, directions, etc. And for years I have been mildly annoyed by Wayne Johnston’s St. John’s, which he never claims is factual, but which contains many factual references, interspersed with inventions — e.g. two parallel streets in fact, intersecting in fiction, etc. I have long held that while his novels must—even if I don’t want to—be forgiven for such fact-bending, his non-fiction book, Baltimore’s Mansion, should not be excused such lapses. And there are many. A sample: —Fleming’s Fling Out the Flag, asserted as being composed in 1888 v. 1902 (66), supposedly “18 years” (factually 14, if at all true) before Cavendish Boyle’s “Ode” —Cormack’s journey map over-simplified (frontispiece) —Moon landing anticipated by 7 months (94); Johnston speaks in December 1968 about an event that doesn’t occur until July 1969 —The Experimental Farm so labelled in 1948 (but, not officially, anyway, called that at the time)(122) —And my favourite passage, the family driving to the airport in 1992 on the verge of moving to Alberta. Father plans, when driving to the airport on the last morning in Newfoundland, to take “the newer north-side arterial and skirt the city altogether” (241). The narrative time is 1992; the north-side arterial was not completed until 2000, at least not to the extent that would allow one to “skirt the city”. Equally, to take that route from the Petty Harbour Road would have meant going nearly 10km out of the way (although, to be fair, the detour might be thought worthwhile; it might take much the same time to drive, although 10km longer, because there is more driving in a 100km/h limit zone). Later on the same page, Johnston observes “At Rawlin’s Cross my father turned right instead of left, onto Military Road”. It soon becomes evident that he wanted a last look at the Colonial Building. But why he might have turned left is beyond me; he’s going to the airport, not The Basilica. Coming up through downtown from Pitts Memorial Drive and reaching Rawlin’s Cross there is no reason to turn at all to proceed to the airport. On the next page they pass Confederation Building. No idea why—except, of course, for its symbolic value. The shortest route to the airport should have left the Confederation Building off to the left, half-visible. But I am compelled to look up “memoir.” Baltimore’s Mansion: A Memoir. OED: “Records of events or history written from the personal knowledge or experience of the writer, or based on special sources of information.” Exemplified by, among others, “1769   N. Nicholls in Gray's Corr. (1843) 97   Why then a writer of memoirs is a better thing than an historian.” Or “1790   W. Paley Horæ Paulinæ i. 1   To deliver the history, or rather memoirs of the history, of this same person.” Or “1860   B. F. Westcott Introd. Study Gospels (ed. 5) vii. 347   Their whole structure..serves to prove that they [sc. the Synoptic Gospels] are memoirs and not histories.” So I am back where I was with the fiction: a memoir is not fiction, but it’s not non-fiction either. So I will henceforth stop complaining that Johnston does things I don’t like with his ‘facts.’ The parallel upheaval in the lives of Lord Baltimore, centuries before, grandfather Charlie Johnston in 1948, and the entire Newfoundland population at the time of confederation are interwoven effectively and emotionally powerful. Questions about fathers, sons, expectations, and betrayals abound here as they do in Johnston’s fictions. Ever-present is the sense that all we think we know as history, personal and political, might have been utterly different had just one thing happened slightly differently. I will probably never get over my discomfort with aspects of Johnston’s writing. I have been giving him a career-wide retrospective re-reading this year before tackling his latest, First Snow, Last Light. He will likely always trigger me. But I’ll stop complaining. In public anyway.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    Wayne Johnston is one of Newfoundland’s best known writers and for those who have enjoyed his work, this is an interesting memoir. For those who have not had the pleasure but are interested in the history and culture of the huge island that makes up a large part of Canada’s’ eastern geography, this novel is well worth their time and attention. It provides important insights into its culture and the people who were born or have lived there. In my mind, this book is a small gem. Johnston has focuse Wayne Johnston is one of Newfoundland’s best known writers and for those who have enjoyed his work, this is an interesting memoir. For those who have not had the pleasure but are interested in the history and culture of the huge island that makes up a large part of Canada’s’ eastern geography, this novel is well worth their time and attention. It provides important insights into its culture and the people who were born or have lived there. In my mind, this book is a small gem. Johnston has focused his reminiscences on three generations in his family and although his mother’s family and their background is mentioned, this book belongs largely to his father’s side of the family, to Wayne, his father Arthur and his grandfather Charles. Charles was a blacksmith in the town of Ferryland on the Avalon Peninsula and fished part time to supplement his income. His two sons Gordon and Arthur went fishing early every morning before school to supplement the family’s income. Arthur was always seasick and hated fishing. Charlie had a forge at the back of his house. It was the place he shoed horses and made the grapnel anchors used by small boat fishermen. He was proud of the work he did, a craft he learned from his father that was now being abandoned as foundries mass produced goods more quickly and cheaply. There would no longer be blacksmiths in the Johnston family and so Charlie urged his sons to become fishermen. Arthur however chose to train at the agricultural college in Truro Nova Scotia instead. He wanted to become an agricultural technician and work at the government run Experimental Farm near St John’s. He completed the course and worked at the Farm, the only job he ever really enjoyed. But the project was short lived and when it shut down, the workforce was transferred to the fishery. Arthur and his wife had four sons and a daughter. Wayne was one of four brothers , a boy born in St John’s who loved his home but eventually left Newfoundland to become a writer. He knew he had to leave his home to write about it and so he has, becoming one of Newfoundland’s more successful sons. The Everards were his mother’s side of the family. They were considered one step up on the social scale because as farmers who only fished part time, they were more dependent on merchant and trucking systems than the cod. Johnston however, focuses on the fathers and sons on his father’s side, pulling up memories and reconstructed reminiscences against the backdrop of two dominant themes: the vote in 1984 to join Confederation and a mysterious long kept secret of what happened on the beach the morning Arthur said good-bye to his father and left for school in Truro. Whatever happened there caused a rift in their relationship that lasted a lifetime. The memoir is filled with a number of dramatic and memorable scenes. Among them a long and treacherous trudge home through a cold winter night as Charles and Arthur returned home from a trip to St John’s. Charles had bought a new anvil for his forge and they were bringing home a load of ice when they had a terrible accident. The sled overturned in a curve in the road, Arthur was thrown and they lost the sled and one of the horses. Father and son were forced to walk home led by a single jittery young horse they hoped knew the way. It was never clear to either of them whether they would make it, but neither breathed a word to the other knowing the affect it might have. Even though they were not sure where they were going, they tried not to panic knowing the horse would sense their unease and bolt. Charlie was in his mid-fifties and Arthur was just twenty-one at the time. Both knew they lived in a place where a man could die if he spent the night outdoors in this treacherous and unforgiving environment. It was only after they arrived home they learned that Arthur had walked for hours with a ruptured spleen. They had both just survived a brush with death. Another haunting scene is the reimagined death of Arthur’s father Charlie, who died of a heart attack in his beloved forge. Others include the long days that Arthur spent in the labs at the province’s Federal Department of Fisheries tasting fish samples, a day so long and nauseating that he could hardly stand the sight or smell of fish for days afterwards. And then there are the days at sea, when Arthur travelled as an inspector for the fisheries department, checking fish plants to ensure they were meeting provincial standards. In one town where they had to close down the plant, he and his men were confronted by an angry crowd of strong armed men and screaming women who hurled fish guts at them as they make their escape. But clearly the best scenes are those in which Johnston describes the fierce debates over Joey Smallwood’s scheme to have Newfoundland join Confederation. Newfoundland’s independence and Smallwood, who won elections by landslides despite an unbroken record of failures, were the hot topics of every social gathering. Arthur was an adamant proponent of independence and fought long and hard for the island to remain a separate nation. Most people voting in the referendum had never left the island and could hardly conceive of the whole of Newfoundland let alone a place called Canada. The island was their entire world and they had no desire to leave it. These fierce debates also give rise to the mystery which skirts the entire narrative, a secret long kept between Arthur and Charles that forever affected their relationship. Johnson literary works are filled with wonderful descriptions of his home province marked by its huge rock formations, miles of bogs and barrens and its harsh ever changing sea which has always been its lifeblood. Readers will get a good sense of how this land which was such an important part of his childhood has also become so much a part of his writing. Johnston also describes his love of weather watching and how he picked this up from his father. Charlie would always rise early to check the weather and his son would join him. Together they would listen to the forecasts, note changes in the temperature, the direction and the velocity of the wind and dutifully record them. Wane soon learned how to predict the weather from the look of the water and the sky. He still loves to watch storms gather and readers will see it reflected in his writing. The underlying theme of the memoir, the need to leave the island to earn a living and the ache to stay with family and the land they know, is beautifully portrayed through these three generations of the Johnston family. Those who leave always long to return to the island they affectionately call “The Rock”, the place they stay connected to that will always be their home. Johnston’s memories also provide the reader with a sense of the Newfoundlander’s character. They are an independent minded people, fiercely loyal to their families despite petty or not so petty conflicts. Johnston also shows us how the fishery has always been the heart of the land, providing the jobs and the food that have allowed its population to live but never flourish. The specter of fish is everywhere. Even as the sea stocks are depleted, men are still bound to the fish by working in industries that connect or flow from it. Even Wayne’s father Arthur who had worked so hard to get away from it, eventually ended up back at the work he had tried so hard to avoid. Those who know or have visited Newfoundland are often struck by the charming and quirky place names found throughout province. This vast island is dotted with names such as Hearts Content, Dildo, Come By Chance, Cow’s Head and Happy Valley. Johnson also adds more to the list with names that shaped the geography of his youth: Ferryland, the Gaze, the Downs and Hare’s Ears. This is a wonderful memoir that takes a different approach from many in the genre. It does not list the author’s achievements or describe everything that happened to him in his early life. Instead he has presented the reader with these pages and has said, “Here, here is my heritage. If you want to understand my writing, read this and you will have a true sense of the person I am”.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Teddy

    Here's the review I posted on Amazon.ca: A Memoir that reads like a novel. It took me about 50 pages to get into this book, which is a lot considering how it is only 272 pages long. Johnston used “he”, making the reader work to figure out who “he” was. “He” was different characters at different times. This made the first part very tedious. After that, it was fairly smooth sailing. The story was still a bit choppy in parts, but overall, worthwhile. Johnston’s lyrical and visual portrait of New Foundl Here's the review I posted on Amazon.ca: A Memoir that reads like a novel. It took me about 50 pages to get into this book, which is a lot considering how it is only 272 pages long. Johnston used “he”, making the reader work to figure out who “he” was. “He” was different characters at different times. This made the first part very tedious. After that, it was fairly smooth sailing. The story was still a bit choppy in parts, but overall, worthwhile. Johnston’s lyrical and visual portrait of New Foundland is breathtaking and at times, bleak. This is not just a memoir of Johnston’s ancestors and family, but of New Foundland and it’s history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Padraic

    Oh Canada. I lived there for a time, and managed to avoid a slew of great writers. I think I came across this in a Quality Paperbacks brochure and gave it a try. Johnston is a newsman by trade, and his prose has some of the good qualities of reporting: concrete, fast, muscular. But it's all in the service of a sort of Newfie Celtic Twilight, as seen through the eyes of the young boy he was growing up in a colony destined to be drawn into the country that would be Canada. His narrative of the slo Oh Canada. I lived there for a time, and managed to avoid a slew of great writers. I think I came across this in a Quality Paperbacks brochure and gave it a try. Johnston is a newsman by trade, and his prose has some of the good qualities of reporting: concrete, fast, muscular. But it's all in the service of a sort of Newfie Celtic Twilight, as seen through the eyes of the young boy he was growing up in a colony destined to be drawn into the country that would be Canada. His narrative of the slow, painful death of that old Celtic culture is one of the best I've come across in 20 years of reading such memoirs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    From its opening with an iceberg in the shape of the Virgin Mary, to its beautiful concluding description of the death of his grandfather, who dreams of drinking the meltwater from the iceberg to soothe his cancerous throat, Canadian Wayne Johnston displays his stunning writing skills. This memoir is one of the most remarkable books I've ever encountered, one to cherish, and hopefully re-read. Newfoundland, the setting for the story, and Johnston's family members who lived there are superbly ent From its opening with an iceberg in the shape of the Virgin Mary, to its beautiful concluding description of the death of his grandfather, who dreams of drinking the meltwater from the iceberg to soothe his cancerous throat, Canadian Wayne Johnston displays his stunning writing skills. This memoir is one of the most remarkable books I've ever encountered, one to cherish, and hopefully re-read. Newfoundland, the setting for the story, and Johnston's family members who lived there are superbly entwined in the stories and events described. Moving, delightful, at times heart-wrenching writing. Well done Wayne Johnston. I look forward to reading some of your novels.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ☯Lilbookworm☮

    Loved and learned from this book. Powerfully composed, characters that managed to bring my home province of Newfoundland to my heart.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    The older I get the more I lean towards memoirs and non fiction. I picked this book up at a small community library..... I enjoyed this book and would like to visit Newfoundland one day; imagine myself on a ferry ride from Nova Scotia, the salt air... This book is classified as a memoir, but it felt like a series of short stories about life growing up in Newfoundland.... I enjoyed the various stories including the trip to get ice blocks by horse and sled which turned into a disaster. The story o The older I get the more I lean towards memoirs and non fiction. I picked this book up at a small community library..... I enjoyed this book and would like to visit Newfoundland one day; imagine myself on a ferry ride from Nova Scotia, the salt air... This book is classified as a memoir, but it felt like a series of short stories about life growing up in Newfoundland.... I enjoyed the various stories including the trip to get ice blocks by horse and sled which turned into a disaster. The story of floating homes from one island to another (reminded me of the movie, The Shipping News, filmed in Nova Scotia). And the story of traveling by horse and wagon to purchase an anvil which ended up being an overnight trip, and thankfully the horse knew the way home... Times were hard!... Then towards the end of the book, the story of the writers trip into solitary confinement, at age 30, to a cabin on an isolated island in order to decide which path his life shall lead ..... I read this during the Covid 19 pandemic and wondered about those soles who stayed behind on Newfoundland’s isolated islands, or any isolated island.. “There are roads you can travel to where they were abandoned fifty years ago, to piers at which boats from smaller islands docked when their owners made the trip to Newfoundland. On each of these islands a lone light burns. In them live people for whom history has been suspended. Some of them are people who, instead of leaving with the fleets of locating houses in the sixties, stayed behind. Others went back to these abandoned islands whose populations from the census thereby rose from none to one or two”..

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Wayne Johnston has not disappointed me so far. This was a fascinating read. I’m not much for memoirs, but since I will be visiting Ferryland and the Colony of Avalon in a couple of weeks, I grabbed this book at a book sale as soon as I saw it. This is a gentle story of Newfoundland, and of the growing-up years of the author during the time of Newfoundland’s vote to join Confederation (1949) and declining fisheries. I was not previously aware of the forceful dissent and rifts caused by the Confed Wayne Johnston has not disappointed me so far. This was a fascinating read. I’m not much for memoirs, but since I will be visiting Ferryland and the Colony of Avalon in a couple of weeks, I grabbed this book at a book sale as soon as I saw it. This is a gentle story of Newfoundland, and of the growing-up years of the author during the time of Newfoundland’s vote to join Confederation (1949) and declining fisheries. I was not previously aware of the forceful dissent and rifts caused by the Confederation referendum. The story delves into the relationships of fathers and sons, of the harsh climate, and the recognition that there are families who have lived within 30 miles of a place for generations. The story is told in a series of vignettes held together by a master storyteller. What not to like – you cannot assume that anything you read in a Wayne Johnston book as historical fact is, indeed, a fact. For facts you need to check with Wikipedia or other sources. I also didn’t care for the jumping around in time, but I got used to it. I often could not tell whether I was reading about Wayne, or his dad Art, or his grandfather Charlie. Despite these two complaints, I will say that for a well-woven story, you cannot do better.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dianne Everson

    I loved most of this book. It was a little confusing at times as to which Johnson was speaking, and a little too wordy about the hatred of joining Confederation felt by some Newfoundlanders, but I loved it. That being said, I loved my five visits to Newfoundland, and always enjoy Wayne Johnston books. This one has some beautiful lines, some humour, lots of interesting history giving the reader more understanding of traditional Irish Newfoundlander ;is imbued with love of the people the author writ I loved most of this book. It was a little confusing at times as to which Johnson was speaking, and a little too wordy about the hatred of joining Confederation felt by some Newfoundlanders, but I loved it. That being said, I loved my five visits to Newfoundland, and always enjoy Wayne Johnston books. This one has some beautiful lines, some humour, lots of interesting history giving the reader more understanding of traditional Irish Newfoundlander ;is imbued with love of the people the author writes about, and makes the reader sad to see it end. The images the author draws of the isolated outport people leaving their island and taking their homes with them are worth reading the book for, even if you knew the story. Such is the power of a very good writer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    A very thoughtful memoir; a loving document in honour of the author's father and to a lesser degree his entire family. A loving document to the history of Newfoundland, the sense of betrayal of confederation and the unfulfilled promise of independence. A loving document of the people of Newfoundland and their unrelenting love for an untamable land that at times gives very little in return. It is a special writing ability that will allow an outsider to be entertained by such a personal portrayal A very thoughtful memoir; a loving document in honour of the author's father and to a lesser degree his entire family. A loving document to the history of Newfoundland, the sense of betrayal of confederation and the unfulfilled promise of independence. A loving document of the people of Newfoundland and their unrelenting love for an untamable land that at times gives very little in return. It is a special writing ability that will allow an outsider to be entertained by such a personal portrayal of ones family life. A fascinating, amusing and poignant reveal of what it was and how it felt to be a Newfoundlander in the early to mid twentieth century.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gayle

    Very well written in a narrative style. I like Wayne Johnston's books, and this is a memoir of his family. It includes many interesting historical details about Newfoundland. You have a real feeling of being there. Very well written in a narrative style. I like Wayne Johnston's books, and this is a memoir of his family. It includes many interesting historical details about Newfoundland. You have a real feeling of being there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Terry Demers

    A beautiful memoir of the author and his father as many Newfoundlander’s struggled with joining Canada on April 1, 1949. A warm glimpse of a hard life on the Rock.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ericm

    Should NL join Canada? We know what happens but the story that Wayne weaves about how the decision literally tore families apart. Loved this book. Thanks Wayne for crafting it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sheri-lee

    Great piece of Canadiana. Those Newfie’s. Although there are still a few who consider themselves not Canadian, I really am glad to have them.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Interesting but also confusing! Too much jumping around between grandfather...father...son.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Tapp

    It was okay. Found it a bit draggy and it did not keep me interested but I finished it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emma Richler

    Just wonderful.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    It’s a really good window into a corner of the country - almost not a corner of my country - that I’ve never known much about. Very good exploration of place and belonging.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    This is a soft 4. I almost wouldn't call this a memoir as it's more about Johnston's father, which is disappointing because I was expecting more insight into Johnston's writing life. Nonetheless, it's still a great read. Like all of Johnston's work, there's great humour mixed with Newfoundland history and family drama. Johnston articulates the Newfoundland spirit unlike any other. He is agnostic about the struggle for NL's soul (confederation, independence, Joey, etc.) but is sympathetic to thos This is a soft 4. I almost wouldn't call this a memoir as it's more about Johnston's father, which is disappointing because I was expecting more insight into Johnston's writing life. Nonetheless, it's still a great read. Like all of Johnston's work, there's great humour mixed with Newfoundland history and family drama. Johnston articulates the Newfoundland spirit unlike any other. He is agnostic about the struggle for NL's soul (confederation, independence, Joey, etc.) but is sympathetic to those who battle with it and especially those who are torn apart by it. "Baltimore's Mansion" really illuminates Johnston's corpus. His father is obsessed with with NL independence, which is actually a front for a hidden family dispute. Most of Johnston's protagonists' have a complicated relationship with their father, usually driven by a toxic secret. This is a great follow-up to books like "Colony of Unrequited Dreams" and "The Divine Ryans."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jo

    This story recounts times of several generations from the Ferryland, Newfoundland location where Lord Baltimore attempted a New World colony. It draws the feelings and formative experiences forward to the time of Confederation with Canada and the lingering conflicting emotions around that choice. I felt this book helped me fill in an understanding of my husband's heritage and see why this province has had a variety of reactions to their Canadian citizenship. Often there is a feeling of being at This story recounts times of several generations from the Ferryland, Newfoundland location where Lord Baltimore attempted a New World colony. It draws the feelings and formative experiences forward to the time of Confederation with Canada and the lingering conflicting emotions around that choice. I felt this book helped me fill in an understanding of my husband's heritage and see why this province has had a variety of reactions to their Canadian citizenship. Often there is a feeling of being at someone else's family reunion. I loved the writing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I loved this author's book called The Colony of Unrequited Dreams which describes exploits of Joey Smallwood in very unflattering terms. Not sure if it is all true, but interesting description of past times in a rugged country. This book also describes Joey as a very power hungry man, who made many bad decisions for Newfoundland and put it economically down the drain. This one is autobiography of three generations of the author's family. I loved this author's book called The Colony of Unrequited Dreams which describes exploits of Joey Smallwood in very unflattering terms. Not sure if it is all true, but interesting description of past times in a rugged country. This book also describes Joey as a very power hungry man, who made many bad decisions for Newfoundland and put it economically down the drain. This one is autobiography of three generations of the author's family.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carla

    Wonderfully detailed and visually stimulating! Newfoundland at it's best. A memoir of the author's youth on the Rock and growing up with stories of when Newfoundland joined Confederation. As a Canadian I can appreciate the struggle Newfoundland had with this and it was written beautifully. The only comment I would make for/against "independence", is that Newfoundland was a colony of England, and I highly doubt they would ever let it become "independent". Wonderfully detailed and visually stimulating! Newfoundland at it's best. A memoir of the author's youth on the Rock and growing up with stories of when Newfoundland joined Confederation. As a Canadian I can appreciate the struggle Newfoundland had with this and it was written beautifully. The only comment I would make for/against "independence", is that Newfoundland was a colony of England, and I highly doubt they would ever let it become "independent".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    I love the way Wayne Johnston captures the cadence of Newfoundland. The voices of my relatives were ringing in my ears as I read. He evoked the isolation and resilience of a hearty people born into a hostile and unforgiving environment. I plan to read every Wayne Johnston book I can get my hands on, even if it means taking up citizenship as a Newfoundlander to borrow from their library.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maryan

    Wayne Johnston's memoir details the life and history of his family who settled in the area of Ferryland Newfoundland 3 generations ago. His account of the grandfather's and father's lives is vivid and textured. The referendum that resulted in Newfoundland joining Canada in 1949 plays a central role in their lives. This is an excellent companion piece for Johnstons Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Wayne Johnston's memoir details the life and history of his family who settled in the area of Ferryland Newfoundland 3 generations ago. His account of the grandfather's and father's lives is vivid and textured. The referendum that resulted in Newfoundland joining Canada in 1949 plays a central role in their lives. This is an excellent companion piece for Johnstons Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    I was all excited to read about Baltimore's mansion, having worked with artifacts from Ferryland while living in Nfld. Such a disappointment to find out it had nothing at all to do with the site. But it still turned out to be a decent memoir. The confederation bits amused me greatly. I was all excited to read about Baltimore's mansion, having worked with artifacts from Ferryland while living in Nfld. Such a disappointment to find out it had nothing at all to do with the site. But it still turned out to be a decent memoir. The confederation bits amused me greatly.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Although it claims to be "a memoir" on the cover, the novel can be more accurately described as historical fiction. Johnston paints a compelling picture, highlighting the effects of Confederation on one Newfoundland family. Overall, a delicate story that will keep you hooked until the last page. Although it claims to be "a memoir" on the cover, the novel can be more accurately described as historical fiction. Johnston paints a compelling picture, highlighting the effects of Confederation on one Newfoundland family. Overall, a delicate story that will keep you hooked until the last page.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Moshynski

    Yes! This should be a prequil to all his other books. It's a lovely memoir of his life in Newfoundland. It gets a bit maudlin in the last 2 or 3 chapters. But anyone who likes Johnston's books should read this one. Yes! This should be a prequil to all his other books. It's a lovely memoir of his life in Newfoundland. It gets a bit maudlin in the last 2 or 3 chapters. But anyone who likes Johnston's books should read this one.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ed Hayden

    Not as good as Colony of Unrequited Dreams but a terrific ending. Middle bit was a lengthy, romantic pining for pre-Confederation, pre-resettlement Newfoundland, which I find tiresome, as I've never identified with the anti-confederate sentiment. Not as good as Colony of Unrequited Dreams but a terrific ending. Middle bit was a lengthy, romantic pining for pre-Confederation, pre-resettlement Newfoundland, which I find tiresome, as I've never identified with the anti-confederate sentiment.

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