Swing bridge history book launch party this Thursday

LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin author Bill Caesar’s new book ‘Bridging the Centuries’, the definitive illustrated history of Manitoulin’s famous swing bridge, will be publicly launched at an event at The Expositor office Thursday afternoon, August 2, to which everyone is, of course, invited by way of an additional Haweater Weekend activity. The launch party will be from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Mr. Caesar’s book is an important part of the year-long series of events planned to celebrate the iconic bridge’s centennial which will culminate in ceremonies scheduled for July of 2013.

“We are looking at the book launch party as one of these events,” noted Rick McCutcheon, Expositor publisher. “Our production manager, Dave Patterson, shepherded Bill’s book through the design and printing process so we’re pleased to honour both Bill and this pivotal piece of really interesting research history and launch his book.”

Mr. Caesar’s book, just as the title suggests, does literally “bridge the centuries” when the old bridge has given Manitoulin a link with the mainland as it discusses the bringing of the Algoma Eastern railway down from Espanola to the Goat Island port and then the local efforts to connect Manitoulin to the rest of the world by rail, which meant that the bridge had to be built.

“It all started by chance,” Mr. Caesar said, “when I heard someone ask, ‘do you mean trains actually came across that thing?’ and I thought that we needed to help record this important part of early Manitoulin history and heritage for young people of today and, hopefully, for generations to come.”

Mr. Caesar is no stranger to the process of researching and publishing local history, precisely to make a permanent record for future generations. Since retiring from a teaching career at Manitoulin Secondary School, he has also researched and written ‘The Fossils of Manitoulin’, ‘Northern Craft: Boats and Boat Builders of Manitoulin and Killarney’ and, when he was chair of the Little Current-Howland Centennial Museum Board, assisted the late Jean Hastings in bringing her best-selling book, ‘Lighthouses of Manitoulin and Surrounding Islands’, to print.

The history of the Manitoulin swing bridge at Little Current was somewhat different. It was a collaboration, as the author credits on the book’s jacket cover suggests, between “Caesar and son.”

The “son” is Michael Caesar who, a writer himself, presently works as a speechwriter for Governor General David Johnston in Ottawa.

Michael Caesar’s role in ‘Bridging the Centuries’ was to render eight interviews conducted by Island historian Sandy McGillivray into blank verse. The interviews are all with people who have been a vital part of the bridge’s working history and the combined contributions of Michael Caesar and Mr. McGillivray are delightful.

While there is a lot to read in ‘Bridging the Centuries,’ the pictorial history of the bridge is all-important and no fewer than 80 historic photos help to graphically tell its story through the book’s 52 pages.

The book launch is scheduled for 4 pm through 7 pm on Thursday. Refreshments will be on hand (naturally a “bridge” cake will be part of the fare) and harpist Emily Weber will be performing.

At 6 pm, Mr. Caesar will offer his candid observations on this exhaustive research project.

‘Bridging the Centuries’ will be available to purchase at The Expositor Office and Mr. Caesar will be signing copies there during the book launch.

‘Bridging the Centuries’ will also be available at Turner’s of Little Current and at the offices of the Manitoulin West Recorder in Gore Bay.

‘Bridging the Centuries’ is priced at $29.95 for the soft cover edition and $39.95 for the hard cover edition (GST is additional).