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Marion Robertson
Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, 1991. 27lpp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-921054-97-1. CIP

Grades 6 and up/Ages 11 and up

Reviewed by Catherine R. Cox.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Marion Robertson is the author of King's Bounty: A History of Early Shelburne for which she received the Centennial Award in History from the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society. She has also written other books and articles on the Micmac, some of whom she interviewed for this book on Shelburne County folklore.

The Chestnut Pipe is a collection for folklore gathered from interviews with people who live at the southwest tip of Nova Scotia. The people there live along the sea coast and gather their livelihood from the sea. Micmac methods of fishing with weirs and spears were passed on to the Europeans who ventured to these coasts. The French, Scots-Irish and New Englanders became fisherfolk, settlers and traders, and brought and mingled their own traditions with each other.

Shelburne County was later settled by white and black Loyalists, but the land proved inhospitable and most of them moved on to more fertile soil, though some farmers managed to make a living in the river valleys. From these people came a mingling of superstitions and customs, which collectors like Marion Robertson following in the footsteps of Helen Creighton attempt to preserve.

Having given a brief introduction to the area and the people from whom she collected the folklore, Robertson divides the book into fourteen sections and recounts the folklore without editorial comment. The material includes supernatural tales, buried treasure, sayings, home remedies, weather lore, bird and animal lore, insects, fish, plants and trees, the lore of children, customs and celebrations and sea lore. Almost sixty pages are devoted to a glossary, which is one of the more interesting sections of the book to browse through. A chestnut pipe, by the way, is made from a hollowed-out chestnut with a dried stalk of goldenrod for a stem. Old man's whiskers make the wadding for one puff of smoke. Delightful!

The book is well indexed and the pages spaced so that everything is easy to read. The Chestnut Pipe is not only an important addition to any collection of Canadian folklore but is also a charming book to pick up and read in any order for amusement and entertainment.


Catherine R. Cox, Moncton High School, Moncton, N.B.
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