You may well have heard the lineup for the 2013 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads event, in which five Canadian novels are pitted against each other in “the battle of the books.” Each one gets a champion to speak for its virtues in a series of debates, and eventually one will be chosen the winner. The general idea is to get Canadians reading Canadian literature.
So what does this have to do with the Manse, and Queensborough? Well, I’ll tell you: the entry representing Ontario is Jane Urquhart‘s novel Away – and Queensborough has a role in it! So if Canadians do what Canada Reads is trying to get them to do, a whole lot of people will come across the mention of our historic little village.
It’s been a long time since I read Away, back when it was newly published in 1993 and was making a very big splash. And I have been unable to lay my hands on a copy that I believe I still have. But I remember being delighted when I read it to discover that part of the action takes place near Queensborough, which is actually named; it’s called “a rough village” – which I suppose it was in the 1850s.
Anyway, I figure that with Queensborough in it, Away should be a slam dunk as this year’s winner. (But for the record, the competition is Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan (a real old chestnut, that one), February by Lisa Moore, and The Age of Hope by David Bergen. The champions are debating the books Feb. 11 to 14 on CBC Radio One, so perhaps you’d like to tune in and cheer on “our” entry!