Books For Your Library

By: Susan W. Smith

Volume 14, Issue 12, December 2019

Not sure if I should thank Paul Hetzler for giving me a copy of his book, “Shady Characters: Plant Vampires, Caterpillar Soup, Leprechaun Trees and Other Hilarities of the Natural World,”

Why? I can’t seem to put it down… honestly it is terrific as it is a series of short essays all about nature – most of it found in, on and around our neighborhoods.

Most amusing, which makes learning about science fun! This is a must for the Holiday Season. Paperback is $26 CA, while the Kindle version is $7.52 US.

I started to read it from the beginning, but then when I got busy and had to put it down, I picked it up and started anywhere.  Sure enough I was enjoying it all over again.

Paul writes with humor and expertise and if you have a chance… and want a book for your island bookshelf –  for your grandchildren or maybe your grandparents or just to give as a gift instead of wine when you are invited out this season…  all will enjoy. You can take my word for it.

Here is just one of several dozen paragraphs that I think may convince you.


Researchers are still puzzling over the age-old question, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood," but I may have the answer. Re-brand the woodchuck.
Like the word skunk and moose, woodchuck (wojak) is a Native American term, Algonquin, in this case. I don't know its literal translation, but I suspect it means "fat fur-ball that can inhale your garden faster than you can say Punxsutawney Phil." Or something pretty close to that.
Too bad that to English speakers, the name woodchuck implies the critters are employed in the forest-products industry. They haven't the teeth for chewing wood, nor do they have any use for wood in their burrows. (Exhaustive studies have concluded woodchuck dens aren't paneled.)

Want to know more....  Buy the book!

Shady Characters: Plant Vampires, Caterpillar Soup, Leprechaun Trees and Other Hilarities of the Natural World,” is available on, (Canadian), and the convenient (Kindle).

The same Paul Heztler has authored several articles for Thousand Islands Life. We are lucky, indeed!

Cost is $35 and available at the Beggar's Banquet bookstore in Gananoque and in Athens at the Village Store as well as at the Athens Museum and at the Leeds and Grenville Genealogical Society in Brockville.

Our next book is in the local history category: Sheatown: A Vanished Irish Catholic Community in Protestant Young Township, Leeds County, written by Paul Coté

Meeting author Paul Coté in the grocery store parking lot, I learned that he published his book this year. In the Preface we learn there are no or few books that even list Sheatown as an Ontario ghost town, but “it was once a community in the center of the action, and spanned two townships.” And as Coté says, “Although Sheatown doesn’t have the bling of many ghost towns it now has something they don’t: a complete and detailed history.”

This complete and detailed history is just that - on more than 300 pages. It is filled with maps and personal profiles of a dozen plus families. Also, you get a complete review of the political, physical and social geography plus 16 sections relate to roads and road building.

Should this be on your island bookshelf Yes, if you like community histories. Yes, if you are a Canadian and grew up in Leeds County, and Yes, if you just like to see how this historian has captured so much historical understanding and presented in a direct way.

This editor spent hours in the Canadian Library and Archives, Jefferson County libraries and historical societies, researching information for my book and never found a resource like Shaetown… It is all there, all you have to do is open the cover.

200 Copies were printed. Those left can be found in Gananoque's Beggar's Banquet Bookstore and in Athens at the Village Store, at the Athens Museum, at the Leeds and Grenville Genealogical Society in Brockville.  It is also available through the author directly or find copies in Gananoque, Lansdowne, Mallorytown and Athens Libraries.

Coté asks “If anyone has good stories about Sheatown and especially photos of the building and people I would like to hear from you.”. All submissions will be passed onto the Athens Museum.

This souvenir zine... can be purchased for $5. It is simple to read and the drawings will delight. 

Elizabeth Barnet: Heroine of Gananoque, February 21, 1838.

The final book review is not a hard or soft covered book… it is a unique “souvenir zine” titled, “Elizabeth Barnett: Heroine of Gananoque, February 21, 1838.”

When I looked up the definition of a zine, I discovered that the word is short for magazine or fanzine which are usually of a small-circulation, self-published work. They have original or appropriated texts and images, and are usually reproduced via photocopier.

This zine is exactly as described. It measures only 5.5 inches by 4 inches with the story and drawings put together on 14 pages and published by the author and illustrator, Sherry Johnson, who will be recognized as the leader of “Gan Walks”.

The story of Elizabeth Barnett is well known in Gananoque, but this little zine not only tells the story but leads you on an interesting journey – an example is one page of text:

...Also traveling by sleigh and wagon that day were many men and supplies from the Watertown area going to French Creek and then Hickory Island. Elizabeth noted the unusual amount of traffic and began paying attention to the conversations around her. What she learned caused her considerable alarm. The arsenal at Watertown had been broken into and several hundred rifles were stolen. They were believed on their way to French Creek to be used by Bill Johnston and the Patriots to attack Gananoque in two days time!... learn more. be sure to buy this little treasure!
At the reasonable cost of $5, it can be found at Arts and Crafts Collective, 161 King St, Gananoque, ON.

So there you have it... three different and perfect books to add to your library! Enjoy.

By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life.

Posted in: Volume 14, Issue 12, December 2019, Book review

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