Historic Hastings returns, expanded and better than ever

Gerry Boyce and Historic Hastings

Belleville historian Gerry Boyce and his update of the classic Historic Hastings – hot off the presses. (Photo from the Belleville Intelligencer)

Tonight I have some exciting news about something that’s taking place tomorrow morning in Belleville, Ont. It is the official launch/unveiling/dedication of a new, expanded edition of the classic history of Hastings County, Historic Hastings. The book was first published as a project for Canada’s centennial in 1967 (not exactly yesterday!) and has now been expanded, updated and republished. Tomorrow morning there will be a launch ceremony at Hastings County council. Good stuff!

And you know what’s really cool? The author of the new and expanded Historic Hastings (who just happens to be a faithful reader of this blog) is Gerald (Gerry) Boyce, a mover and shaker in Hastings historical circles for many years – and the same guy who wrote the original.

(Here I have a confession to make of how dopey I can be: Gerry alerted me to the book launch in a comment he made on my post of a couple of days ago, but being the modest type, he didn’t mention the important fact that he is the author. And I totally failed to figure it out! At first, anyway. Then when I went poking about online, it all came clear. Sorry for not being more on the ball, Gerry!)

Historic Hastings 1967 edition

The original edition of Historic Hastings, published in 1967.

Historic Hastings is a book that was on the shelves of most Hastings County households (including ours) back when I was a kid growing up at the Manse in Queensborough. I don’t know what happened to my family’s copy, save for the fact that I didn’t end up with it. For quite a while I’ve been meaning to try to rectify that critical gap in my local-history collection thanks to my friends at the used-book site abebooks.com. (The original has been out of print for many years.) But now I can get a brand new one, with improvements including a full index and updated maps. And there’s more to come! The book being launched tomorrow is just Volume One; Gerry has also been working on Volume Two, with information on all that happened in Hastings County between 1967 and the present day.

While in this recent article about the project in the Belleville Intelligencer Gerry modestly pays tribute to those who helped him with the research work  – and I think we must not fail to make mention of one of them: his wife, Bev – I can only imagine how many hours he must have devoted to Historic Hastings, both the last time around and now with the new edition. (In between writing other works of local history and being a driving force behind the preservation of that history, I might add; Gerry is a charter member of the Hastings County Historical Society.) But what a wonderful thing to be able to say you produced in your lifetime: the definitive history of an entire county, something that has been a reference for thousands of people in the past and will continue to be into the future.

Congratulations on a job very well done, Gerry!

And to those who, like me, would like to get their hands on a copy: I am sure it is being offered for sale in the bookstores of Hastings County, but you can also order it (print version or CD version) here. And Gerry, if there are other points of sale we should know about, please send details! (And P.S.: Can I get my copy autographed?)

10 thoughts on “Historic Hastings returns, expanded and better than ever

  1. It recently came to my attention that the University of Calgary made a stab at digitizing ALL local history books across Canada. And guess what! Historic Hastings is one of them! You can visit http://www.ourroots.ca and search for the title. I know about this website because my own childhood community’s history book called Rural Roots (about Brada, Saskatchewan, which sadly no longer exists except in the hearts of all who once lived there) can also be found on this site. I know it’s not the same as holding the book in your hands, and everyone should buy a copy of Gerry’s hardcover book, but it’s still pretty cool!

  2. I just might have to take a look at this new book, and get a handle on the history of the county. (sorry, didn’t mean to appropriate thy neighbour’s moniker).

    I wonder if Gerry had ever heard Ezekiel Stone Wiggins, a colourful Canadian figure who had many ties to Hastings and PEC during the Victorian era ?? He(Wiggins) apparently attended a college in Belleville around 1870 or so, and was a well-known, even scandalous figure throughout North America as a scholar and prophet.

    Speaking of wondrous, mythical things, I wonder if he has any insights on the snow-capped mountains of North Hastings ?

    • If the famous (or infamous) Ezekiel Stone Wiggins has Belleville connections, I’d be shocked – shocked! – if Gerry didn’t know all about him, Mark. As for the “snow-capped mountains,” I am still pursuing that: didn’t get an answer from the first Hastings County official I tried (possibly a suspicious sign!) but I’m going to try at least one other. One school of thought from some Queensborough friends on this all-important matter: if you look at the photo really closely, the light colour at the top of the mountains seems to be sunlight, as opposed to snow. These friends say that for sure this photo could have been – and probably was – taken in the northern reaches of the county.

      • If it wasn’t for cheap thrills, I’d have none at all. LOL. Why, Sir Edmund Hillary missed an even greater opportunity.

        I think congratulations are in order for Gerry. The book is an accomplishment, no doubt. I’d sure he’d have some interesting stories to share.

      • Truer words were never spoken, Mark. Now if newly retired Raymond could just get that great new Queensborough bookstore/performance space/coffee shop going (okay, a girl can dream, can’t she?) we could have Gerry in to do a historical talk and book-signing, and wouldn’t that be great?

  3. Raymond needs to get on that…..I’ve been looking for a reason to go up to Queensborough (hard to justify a drive from Toronto when you don’t really know anyone there). I’d love to have a “sit down” w/ Raymond & Gerry and discuss some history….that would be awesome. That is, if I can fight the throngs of people & get anywhere near Gerry !!

    By the way, all the best to Raymond on his retirement. Speaking of accomplishments……

    • Thanks so much from both of us, Mark! And you can be sure that if we make any progress toward the Queensborough bookstore/art space/library/wiifi zone/performance space, it will be fully reported right here!

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