TorchflameBooks

CatharineMcKenty400Catharine Fleming McKenty grew up in thirties on her grandparent’s farm Donlands, beside the Don river in Toronto – on Don Mills Road then a two lane country road. She attended Bishop Strachan School where she won academic scholarships in both French and German. For her post secondary education, Catharine chose Victoria College at the University of Toronto where she majored in English under Northrop Frye.

After University Catharine had several occupations including volunteer in post-war European reconstruction, Research Editor for Pace magazine in Los Angeles, and speechwriter for the Ontario Minister of Education. Now living in Montreal, in 2009 she authored “Polly of Bridgewater Farm: an Untold Irish Story.”

by Catharine McKenty

An Unknown Irish Story

This is the story of an idylic irish childhood torn asunder by the famine of 1847, and the trials of emigration to a new life in Canada.

It was on her father’s farm, on the old Coach Road between Dromore and Enniskillen, that Polly spent an idyllic two years with her parents, George and Jane Noble. Then Disaster struck. On January 6, 1839, the infamous ‘Big Wind’ rose out of the sea and swept across Ireland, wailing like a thousand banshees. It flattened whole villages, burned down farm houses, and finally killed her father. It changed Polly’s life forever.

Only 10 years old, Polly was on her way to a new life in Canada. After an appalling voyage, during which some of the passengers, including Polly’s darling little brother and sister died, they docked at Grosse-Île, the quarantine station on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour from Quebec.

After three years in Montreal, where she met her future husband, Polly was now ready for her next adventure in a vast unknown land called Canada. Her destiny would be linked with a dozen children who had lost their mothers, one of them a future mayor of Toronto.

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What a splendid book ... what a delightful story ... I could feel the slushy peat field ... I could smell the rain coming. M. O’Gallagher

We need more books like this that speak of hope in the midst of adversity. Nigel Frith, Principal Omagh Integrated College, Omagh, Northern Ireland

I loved the book. It made me feel part of this family. Evelyn West Past President, Clogher Historical Society, Monahan, rep. of Ireland

Polly is unforgettable. Marie Foley Director (ret) Neilsen Gallery, Boston, Mass.

I've never seen a book like it. Mickey McGuinness Co-ordinator of the Community, History, and Heritage Project, Derry, Northern Ireland

I think this book is cool. Ciaran Mallon age 7 (2009), Dromore, Northern Ireland

by Catharine McKenty

SkiingLegends800

...and the Laurentian Lodge Club

This book invites you to curl up beside the fire and journey to a time when Montrealers skied down Peel Street and the Laurentians were "the wild west" of Quebec.

For two expatriate Torontonians, Neil and Catharine McKenty, this journey begins at the Laurentian Lodge Club in Shawbridge, now Prévost. There we meet skiing legends like "Jackrabbit" Johannsen, Harry Pangman and Barbara Kemp.

With them we discover the perils of "Foster's Folly", the world's fi rst ski tow, we climb Mont Tremblant in the Thirties and we ride the ski trains with their smells of wax, orange peels and cigar smoke. And we also meet those earlier legends, the larger-than-life Curé Labelle, and the tragic Viscount D'Ivry who lived in a magnifi cent chateau on the shores of Lac-Manitou. This is also the story of how the Laurentians helped Montrealers weather two World Wars and the Depression. It's a great story and the authors have told it well.

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