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Raff, Sylvia.

Cornwall (Ont.), Vesta Publications, c1984. 175pp, paper, $12.50, ISBN 0-919301-85-1. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Jo Anna Burns Patton

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

Along the north shore of the mighty St. Lawrence River grows a hardy but "beautiful purple wild flower" whose botanical name is Fireweed or epilobe but that is commonly referred to as "ironweed." Since many of Sylvia Rapp's tales and legends take place on those shores, this was certainly an appropriate title for the book. According to the introduction to the text, the author has visited areas her father used to talk about when he returned from his fur-gathering expeditions.

This collection of anecdotes begins with the author's personal recollections of her father and his experiences, followed by an historical account of the area. The tales then are arranged into three sections; those from the French settlements, from the English settlements, and from the Indians. Although there is no index, there is a map included. The length of the tales range from half a page to six pages, each with a title. Interspersed through the text are sketches done by Pierre Lawton. The content of the tales vary in complexity. Some are simply descriptions of particular incidents that, by themselves, are not outstanding in any way but give you a clear picture of the social life and customs. On the other hand, many of the Indian tales explain natural phenomena like the origin of the sun and the moon or the beginning of the seasons.

The book ends with a look at the present and the number of changes that have occurred for the sake of progress. The author notes that, although the people in the north shore region are better dressed and more educated today, they prefer the days of no radio or television when tales, legends, and anecdotes were the only means of entertainment. This work could be a useful addition to a collection of Canadiana or Canadian folklore.

Jo Anna Burns Patton, Cote St. Luc Public Library, Cote St. Luc, Que.
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