Praise for Romancing the Rockies

A friend just drew my attention to the following review. I have no idea who Advocatus Diaboli is. But if I ever find out, I’m going to buy this person a beer. Or maybe two beers.

Advocatus Diaboli
Friday, July 22, 2021
Book Review For Calgary Living/July 12, 2005
Books discussed in this review:

Romancing the Rockies: Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn and More,

By Brian Brennan
Fifth House, 212 pages

What’s So Funny About Alberta?
Mike Kerr

Fifth House, 224 pages, $19.95
The Collapse of Globalism:
And The Reinvention of the World

By John Ralston Saul
Viking Canada – 309 pages - $36.00

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Truer words were never spoken, and Sir Francis Bacon who lived between 1561 and 1626, as an author and philosopher, first spoke these words.

The kind editor of Calgary Living as agreed to make this the beginning of the new Book Review section. It will be different than the book review in the New York Times, your Saturday Globe and Mail, or even the growing section in the Calgary Herald.

We will specialize and focus on local home grown talent, whether that is the writer or publisher, or subject matter. At the very least it will be Canadian talent.

There will be the odd diversion off the road to look at books published elsewhere in Canada, when their ideas, issues, subjects or words have a connection to the people reading this magazine in Southern Alberta.

The always innovative and local Calgary publishing house, Fifth House under Charlene Dobmeier’s tutelage, gives us our supply of books for this month’s column. The first is a new book from Mike Kerr, which may prove to be one of the most unique travel books about Alberta, is What’s So Funny About Alberta?

It is a project that started out as a part-time project for Kerr.

From the giant perogy in Glendon, to the Torrington Gopher Museum, Lacombe Corn Maze, a Star Trek convention at which Klingons down glasses of potent Warnog and then along with details on how you could arrange a foodstuffs tour of Alberta ending with the enormous sausage including Pinto McBean, Sam and Sandy Potato, among others.

Kerr through out the book is telling us size may be everything to Albertans. In much of the book Kerr does an interesting job in trying to show the world and Albertans that Alberta is not all about large foodstuffs made of fibreglass or the Calgary Stampede, or Banff.

The book shows us that we have Canmore, Badlands, Writing-on-Stone and our provincial parks but we also have the Giant Sausage in Mundare, or a giant toque in Morinville, or the Giant Mallard duck in Andrew, and the Big Rocks in Okotoks.

My personal favourite is the Gopher Museum in Torrington built to worship the some 600 million gophers, or to give you the perfect jumping off point to head to the UFO Landing pad in St. Paul.

One of Calgary’s, indeed Canada’s, writing gems, is Brian Brennan. Brennan moved here in the 60’s from his native Ireland as an actor, radio news reporter, musician and union activist. From his time at the Calgary Herald, Brian went on to telling the stories of the lives of local people that were famous or infamous, but missed the glare of the camera or the attention of the reporters’ pen.

In Brian Brennan’s new book from Fifth House, Romancing The Rockies, with a subtitle of, ‘ Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn and more,’ we get the stories of the lived lives of those who faced the Rockies to settle in what we now call Alberta.

It is a journey that is uniquely Albertan, giving us insight into what happens when the early Alberta settlers meet the mountains.

While we survive the 2005 floods, Romancing The Rockies shows us that we are not the first to discover the affects the mountains have on everything we do and what it is like to live at the behest of the weather they create.

Brian gives life to dead people who have much still to tell us, picking up where Grant MacEwan left off.

Romancing The Rockies begins with an overview of the past 100 centuries of Alberta with the stories starting as earl as the all but forgotten Peter Fidler and ends with stories about Jon Whyte, as well as people like Don Forest.

Peter Fidler was a young Hudson Bay chronicler who was sent out to set pen to paper as he followed the men who searched for the Northwest Passage in 1790.

It would be sad to see Romancing The Rockies not find its way into the libraries of the provinces schools and towns. It is crammed full of local history that not only made Alberta, but Canada as well, as seen from the eyes of average people trying to tame the Rockies in order to make a new life for themselves.

Essayist and novelist, John Ralston Saul’s, newest book is, The Collapse of Civilization published by Viking Canada, and has managed to maintain the top spot on the bestsellers list at Kensington Pages, an independent bookseller in Calgary.

The book could be portrayed as just another epistle from a verbose philosophy professor, or it could be looked at as a direct look at some of the misgivings many are having about the globalization and Canada’s path and position in it.

Saul makes the point that, the exponential increase in trade are often misleading,’ as this trade is simply moving goods from one branch office to another with in the same company. At a speaking engagement hosted by the people at Calgary’s WordFest held at Knox United Church in June, Saul spoke of a new era, that can be called the, ‘the unknown era,’ that would be a time when this world enters ‘internationalism.’ This is based on watching the actions of countries such as Brazil and India who are embarking on their own paths, which are going to challenge the current body of thought on global economics.

Seeing that Calgary trades with the world, Saul’s The Collapse of Civilization should be a good read for us that like to watch the world as it evolves, and knows there is a world outside of Calgary.
posted by Advocatus Diaboli @ 11:23 AM

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