I've been working for over a year on a play entitled Last Day, Last Hour which is about one of the most sensational courtroom battles in Canadian history. The case was a libel suit brought in 1928 by Sir Arthur Currie, the man who had led the Canadian Corps to victory in World War I. The cause of his grievance was a front-page editorial in the Port Hope Evening Guide which claimed that Currie had needlessly wasted Canadian lives, particularly during the advance toward Mons in the last days of the war. The trial placed Canada’s role in the war under a microscope and its proceedings kept the country riveted for weeks. I've incorporated some of the dialogue from the trial transcripts for the courtroom scenes in what I trust will be a compelling drama. The Curtain Club in Richmond Hill did a first reading of the play in March which was hugely helpful. I've revised it since then and the VOS Theatre Group in Cobourg will be giving another reading on Saturday October 17 at 7:00. And what I'm very excited about is that it will take place in the historic courthouse in Victoria Hall, Cobourg, where the original trial took place 88 years ago. Even more exciting is that the VOS plans to do a full production of the play in May 2016 as part of Cobourg's World War I commemorations. Here's a photo of director Bea Quarrie with VOS member Florence Fletcher making plans in the Cobourg courthouse. What a setting!
On January 30th I was one of 26 authors presenting as part of the CANSCAIP Mass Book Launch at the Ontario Library Association in Toronto. We were each given three minutes and told to make it memorable so I sang a World War I soldiers' song to introduce my latest book FROM VIMY TO VICTORY: Canada's Fight To The Finish in World War I. Thanks to fellow author (and singer) Helaine Becker for the photo.
Since mid-October I've been giving school and library talks almost every day--or giving performances of 'Canada, Fall In'. So it was great to wrap up my last scheduled talk for '14 at St Peter's School in Brantford on December 3rd. Thanks to teacher Craig Enns and Librarian Nancy Runstedtler for setting this up. With 'Vimy to Victory' on the Silver Birch Non-Fiction list, I'll be starting a new round of talks in the new year.
Eleanor Lefave runs Mabel's Fables in Toronto, one of the best children's bookstores in Canada. And she is brilliant at connecting teachers and kids with the latest books. So I was thrilled to spot 'From Vimy to Victory' featured in her window for Remembrance Day. Thanks Eleanor!
I'm thrilled that my newest book From Vimy to Victory: Canada's Fight To The Finish In World War I, has been nominated in the non-fiction category for this year's Silver Birch Award. This award is part of the Forest of Reading program run in schools by the Ontario Library Association and is a great reading motivator. There are ten books in each category and kids are encouraged to read them all and vote for their favourites. There's a big awards ceremony on May 13th in Toronto where authors are always mobbed by young fans. (This year there are also events in London and Thunder Bay.) I've won the Silver Birch once before but just being nominated makes you a winner since it brings great attention to your book.
The first review of my brand-new book From Vimy to Victory is in, and it's a good one. Megan Moore Burns in Quill & Quire, the journal of the Canadian book trade, writes in a starred review: "Veteran author Hugh Brewster has perfected the art of engaging young readers with history. In his latest...Brewster vividly describes our country's significant contribution to the last hundred days of the First World War." She concludes her review by saying: "From Vimy to Victory is accessible and engrossing, a wonderful combination." Thank you, Megan and Quill & Quire!
This summer I’ll be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I with a concert performance on July 19th at the Elora Festival. Canada, Fall In! The Great War Remembered in Words, Images and Song will tell the story of Canadians in WW1 through their letters and diaries as narrated by me and actors Christopher Newton and Brigitte Robinson, complemented by a screen show of remastered footage and archival images. The Elora Festival Singers under the baton of Noel Edison will bring to life the music of the period, from forgotten Canadian songs like ‘Canada, Fall In’ and ‘Boys from Canada’ to familiar favorites like ‘Tipperary’ and ‘Roses of Picardy’ to haunting choral anthems by Healey Willan and Benjamin Britten. I know this will be an unforgettable experience for any Canadian.
I’ve just received finished copies of the paperback of Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage (in Canada, RMS TITANIC:Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage). The US and Canadian editions both have different jackets as they did in hardcover and the jacket price is $15.00 in the US and $18.99 in Canada. Both will be in the stores by late March of 2013.
Two performances of ‘Unsinkable: The Titanic in Words, Images and Song’ were greeted with prolonged standing ovations on July 14th at the Elora Festival. Distinguished actors Christopher Newton andBrigitte Robinson assisted me in narrating the story while images and footage played on a large screen. Musicians and soloists from the Elora Festival Singers under Noel Edison evoked the music of fatal maiden voyage in a haunting and beautiful way.
The show will remounted on Friday October 12th at Casa Loma in Toronto as part of ‘A Night to Remember’ Gala for the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. This will be the ultimate Titanic dinner along with the performance of ‘Unsinkable’ in a memorable evening of Gilded Age drama and splendor. For more information go to: www.tmchoir.org/gala.