________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 12. . . .November 20, 2009

cover

Where Rivers Meet: The Story of Dr. S.F. Monestime, Canada’s First Black Mayor.

Doug Mackey.
Toronto, ON: Past Forward Heritage Ltd., 2009.
79 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-896974-08-8.

Subject Headings:
Monestime, S.F. (S. Firman), 1900-1977.
Mayors-Ontario-Mattawa-Biography.
Black Canadians-Biography.
Haitian Canadians-Biography.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Todd Kyle.

** /4

   

excerpt:

In the summer of 1951 Dr. Monestime, a recently Canadian certified MD and his colleague Dr. G. Lamontagne heard about openings for doctors in Timmins and decided to drive there from Ottawa to look the situation over. At noon on the trip, as they approached the beautiful town of Mattawa, they looked for a place to stop for lunch. As they entered Main Street, the Chez Francois [sic] restaurant caught their eye and they stopped. “I didn’t intend to come here,” Monestime recalled years later.

Where Rivers Meet recounts the life of Dr. Saint Firmin Monestime, a Haitian immigrant who overcame all odds to become first a doctor then mayor of Mattawa, Ontario. Although not a children’s book, it is reviewed here because of its relevance to Black History and usefulness in school libraries, especially at the secondary level.

     Abundant with photos, the book’s format is accessible to young people, but its description of the politics of Canada and of Haiti is obviously written with an adult audience in mind. Monestime’s humanity, his love for people, and his almost wilful ignorance of the pervading racism of the time are depicted very clearly, and he is presented as the prototype Canadian for a multicultural age. Unfortunately, the writing style is very awkward, and there are a number of spelling and grammatical errors, especially in French proper names. The author’s fairly cavalier use of the word “genocide” to describe Haitian events in the 1930s is also problematic for young people.

     For its unique subject and contribution to the Black Canadian historical record, the book is, however, recommended with reservations.

Recommended with reservations.

Todd Kyle is a former President of the Canadian Association of Children’s Librarians who is currently a branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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