Renowned Nova Scotian author and journalist, John DeMont, will be traveling just a short distance to do a reading of his latest non-fiction work The Long Way Home: A Personal History of Nova Scotia, at the Vogler's Cove Community Hall on August 7th at 7pm.
Published by McClelland & Stewart, The Long Way Home is DeMont's eighth book. It's a culmination of his many years of Atlantic Canadian exploration and musings, reflecting Nova Scotia's tumultuous history through the lens of his personal experiences and research.
In the book, DeMont chronicles the relations between the French/Acadians and Mi'kmaq and recounts the arrival of the loyalists and the New England Planters in Shelburne. He discusses the Gaelic exodus as well as the shipbuilding empires in Yarmouth, and more.
"In each case, they are individual stories, but I was trying to find stories to explain eras and bigger events going on in Nova Scotia...I tried not to [pick] a story that is just an interesting yarn in itself; it sort of had to lead to some bigger point," DeMont told LighthouseNOW.
Indeed, DeMont has never been one to shy away from stories that matter within Atlantic Canada. One of his first books, Citizens Irving: K.C Irving and His Legacy (McClelland & Stewart) , delves into one of the region's most powerful families. Others, such as The Last Best Place: Lost in the Heart of Nova Scotia (Doubleday Canada) and The Little Tree by the Sea: From Halifax to Boston With Love (MacIntyre Purcell Publishing), pay homage to the land we call home, and the strength of the people within it.
"I feel very strongly about [Nova Scotia]...I find it endlessly interesting. I have a strong connection to the place. My people were some of the original settlers of Lunenburg; on my dad's and my mom's side there have been coal mining people back to the seventeen-hundreds. I am connected to the DNA of the place."
DeMont adds that he's particularly drawn to writing about Nova Scotia because there have never been any spectacular successes in its history. Instead, ours has been a tale of struggle and endurance.
"Somehow that appeals to me more than a place where life is always easy," he says.
DeMont began his writing career working as a sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post before going on to receive a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Kings College. He also received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Dalhousie University.
He has since reported for Canadian newspapers and magazines such as the Financial Post and Maclean's, and currently works as a columnist in Halifax.
The author describes coming from humble yet hard-working roots. DeMonts, who were German-speaking Swiss, were among the first settlers in Lunenburg.
"They traveled and moved around in that area, working in the woods some, they were store owners, then they ended up in Cape Breton. That's how that end of my family ended up in Cape Breton, in the steel mills and in the newspaper."
Writing and publishing in its various forms seems to run in the DeMont family. DeMont's grandfather was a printer at the Glace Bay Labour Gazette during the coal mining conflicts.
DeMont suggests that his books "seem to be getting more personal as time goes on."
He took a break from chasing journalistic leads and tracing his family's lineage in his tales to produce The Little Tree by the Sea with his daughter Belle DeMont, which recounts the moments of horror and heroism that followed the Halifax Explosion and features illustrations by Belle.
For now, DeMont is kept busy by his journalism, but speaks of the possibility of attempting to write a novel in the future.
Meanwhile, Elke Love, co-founder of Read and Share Corner at Vogler's Cove Community Hall, says she's excited about the upcoming reading.
"I've been a fan of John DeMont for a number of years. The first book of his I read was his book of coal mining in Cape Breton, which was kind of a semi-autobiography. It really gave you a feeling of the times when the first people came over from Scotland and started mining, and what life must have been like for them. I'm looking forward to hearing this one too" she says.
Other upcoming readings at Vogler's Cove Community Centre include ones by Lunenburg County's very own Stella Bowles in September, and the Cape Breton-based author, Lesley Crewe, in October.