Launching Bookmark #18!


On September 30, Project Bookmark Canada will unveil a plaque to celebrate The Convict Lover and its place in the Canadian literary landscape. The plaque will be installed in Portsmouth’s Garrigan Park, once the quarry where Kingston Penitentiary convicts did hard time. This is the 18th Project Bookmark Canada plaque, and the 2nd for Kingston, the first being “Mexican Sunsets,” a poem by Bronwen Wallace.

The unveiling takes place on
Saturday, September 30, at 11 a.m. in Garrigan Park
beside Domino Theatre in Portsmouth village.

(See map below)

In addition to speakers, singer Chris Hugh Brown, Founder of Pros and Cons, will perform “The Prisoner's Song." Juicy Kik food truck will be on site, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

At 12:15 p.m., following the unveiling, Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover, will lead a “Prisoner’s Walk” from the quarry through the village to the penitentiary, with readings from the book.

Everyone is welcome to attend!

In addition to individual donors, thanks are extended to author Merilyn Simonds,
Kingston WritersFest, City of Kingston and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support.
To help build this Bookmark, click below:




A Message from the President

Don Oravec, President of the Board

Don Oravec, President of the Board

Why does it come as a shock each year when autumn arrives? With my advancing years comes the understanding that time does seem to pass more quickly.  

With the cooler temperatures comes a plethora of activities in the writing world. It is literary prize season in Canada with the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Writers’ Trust Awards, and of course the Scotiabank Giller Prize being announced and presented. It is also the season for book launches across Canada and I attend as many of these events as I am able. I love meeting the authors and buying their new books and of course reading them with an eye to location and setting — you never know when you will stumble on the perfect paragraph that can be immortalised on a Project Bookmark Canada plaque.

Another annual fall event, Word On The Street will this year include a booth promoting Project Bookmark Canada at the Toronto event. Please stop by and say hello if you are planning to attend. The date is Sunday, September 24th at Harbourfront.

September also brings the first 2017 Project Bookmark plaque installation and unveiling in Kingston. We continue to fundraise aggressively to complete the funding for this Bookmark.

Over the course of this past summer I worked on a planning document for Project Bookmark Canada. This will provide a blueprint for the coming eighteen months for the organisation.  In the course of creating this document I consulted with a number of people in the writing and publishing community and I extend my most sincere thanks to them for talking to me at length this summer about Project Bookmark Canada.

As the organisation continues to grow we are encouraged by the many offers of financial support we receive. Project Bookmark Canada is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organisation and survives and grows thanks to donations from people across Canada. Please consider joining us in supporting this amazing organisation. You will be enabling Project Bookmark Canada to grow the number of plaques currently in place from sea to sea to sea and reach every province and territory in the process.

Don Oravec
President of the Board, Project Bookmark Canada




A Bookmark for Prince Edward Island: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “The Gable Window”

Photo credit: L.M. Montgomery, The L.M. Montgomery Cavendish Home, Canadian National Historic Site.. 

Photo credit: L.M. Montgomery, The L.M. Montgomery Cavendish Home, Canadian National Historic Site.. 

Project Bookmark Canada’s Board of Directors President, Don Oravac, is pleased to announce the first Bookmark on Prince Edward Island for a poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery, “The Gable Window,” set at The Site of L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish Home. Describing the landscape outside her window, this poem was first published in The Ladies Journal in 1897, when Montgomery was 23 years of age. A cherished Canadian author, admired by readers around the world, Montgomery’s works have been translated into over 35 languages.

On July 27 in Charlottetown, PE, Project Bookmark Canada’s Executive Director, Laurie Murphy, attended the L.M. Montgomery Institute event at the University of Prince Edward Island announcing the Bookmark.

Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 4 p.m.

On behalf of the Project Bookmark Canada Board of Directors and its PEI community partners, Laurie Murphy invites Prince Edward Island residents, and visitors to the province, at 8521 Cavendish Rd, Cavendish, PE

There are so many lush and beautiful passages describing the Macneill place in the Anne and indeed Emily books. And right there is where the Montgomery fan experiences that ‘I know this place’ feeling and a sense of awe.
— Dr. Elizabeth Epperly
The Heirs of L.M. Montgomery are delighted that the first official Bookmark on Prince Edward Island will honour L.M. Montgomery, and will be on the Macneill site in Cavendish she loved so much — where she wrote hundreds of short stories and poems in addition to Anne of Green Gables and three other novels.
— Kate Macdonald Butler, President of the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery (Inc.)



Kingston WritersFest Announces Bookmark #18: THE CONVICT LOVER by Merilyn Simonds

Photo credit: Archive Photo, Montreal Gazette. 

The Convict Lover, by Merilyn Simonds

Project Bookmark Canada is pleased to be part of Kingston WritersFest’s September 27 – October 1 weekend of activities, announced on June 29. Merilyn Simonds’ The Convict Lover will receive recognition as the City of Kingston’s second Bookmark and our 18th installation in a national series of Canada’s sites and stories.

All are invited to attend the unveiling of the Bookmark on
Saturday, September 30, 2017, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Church Street (Garrigan Park).

Following the launch, everyone is invited to join the author on a Convict Lover literary tour with readings through Portsmouth Village. We extend our thanks to Kingston WritersFest, City of Kingston, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Through Cultural Services at the City of Kingston, we are very pleased to continue our relationship with Project Bookmark Canada to honour local authors and their achievements.
— Colin Wiginton, Cultural Director



Announcing a Halifax Bookmark: BAROMETER RISING by Hugh MacLennan

Photo credit: Archive Photo, Montreal Gazette. 

Photo credit: Archive Photo, Montreal Gazette. 

Project Bookmark Canada is pleased to announce an inaugural Bookmark for Halifax, which will coincide with commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion — Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan.

Published in 1941, MacLennan's first novel is a compelling romance set against the horrors of wartime and the catastrophic Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917. The biggest human-made explosion in the pre-atomic era inspired a brilliant novel published in 1941 and, in 2017, provides an opportunity to gather and reflect on this event of great significance to Canadians.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 2 p.m.

The public is warmly invited to the official launch of the plaques, opposite the main entrance at the top of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Parks Canada, 5425 Sackville Street.

Canada’s national parks and historic sites enable Canadians to experience their rich history and heritage in a special way and Parks Canada is pleased to host this new bookmark on Barometer Rising. The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site still stands guard over the city below, just as it did 100 years ago at the time of the Halifax Explosion in 1917.
— Dr. Keith Mercer, Cultural Resource Manager, Mainland Nova Scotia, Parks Canada Agency



Reading Circles Link Readers across Canada

Project Bookmark Halifax Reading Group: Sarah Emsley, Marianne Ward, Alexander MacLeod, and Naomi MacKinnon. Missing from the photo are Susanne Marshall, Carol McDougall, and David Wilson.

Project Bookmark Halifax Reading Group: Sarah Emsley, Marianne Ward, Alexander MacLeod, and Naomi MacKinnon. Missing from the photo are Susanne Marshall, Carol McDougall, and David Wilson.

– By Hughena Matheson, Project Bookmark Canada Board Member & Reading Circles Co-Chair

A few years ago, Nova Scotia writer Sarah Emsley was in the audience at St. Mary’s University listening to Project Bookmark Canada founder Miranda Hill speak about the Canadian Literary Trail. Once she heard about Bookmark, a nationally-registered charity, a spark was ignited. Now, Sarah is one of Bookmark’s strongest supporters as the head of its Halifax Reading Circle.

Sarah grew up in Nova Scotia, but most of her relatives lived in Alberta. She remembers many family road trips along the Trans-Canada Highway. On these trips, Sarah wished she had been able to stop along the way and read literary Bookmarks.

If Sarah were to make a trip across Canada today, she could make 17 literary stops along the way. In just one decade, Project Bookmark has built this uniquely-Canadian trail. Sarah is enthusiastic to expand that trail in Nova Scotia.

Sarah became very active in promoting Bookmark. On October 1, 2015, the province’s first Bookmark for Alistair Mac Leod’s novel, No Great Mischief, was unveiled at Port Hastings, Cape Breton Island. That evening, Canadians in pubs and kitchens around the country toasted MacLeod with the “Raise a Glass for Alistair” celebration. Sarah and a group of volunteers collaborated with the staff of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia to organize a local “Raise a Glass for Alistair” celebration and fundraiser at The Company House in Halifax. Writer Stephanie Domet hosted the party of about 40 book lovers. They raised their glasses as Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia President Ian Colford gave a toast to Alistair. Guests enjoyed a very Maritime gathering with featured readings from MacLeod’s work by Sheree Fitch and Donna Morrissey, music by Wendy MacIsaac and Brad Davidge and door prizes from Bookmark Halifax. Project Bookmark Halifax Reading Circle grew out of that event.

Now, the core members of the group including Alistair’s son, writer Alexander MacLeod, meet regularly at the Old Triangle Pub. This location has indeed a literary connection. In that building, Lucy Maud Montgomery once worked for the newspaper, The Daily Echo.

The Halifax Circle’s main focus is to celebrate Nova Scotia’s writers with Bookmarks around the province. This very active circle has been reading novels and poems of many writers. These include the poems of Canada’s Parliamentary poet laureate, George Elliott Clarke; the poems of Rita Joe, the “poet laureate” of the Mi’kmaq people; and, the poems of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Elizabeth Bishop who grew up in Great Village, a small Nova Scotia hamlet.

Some group members are reading Christy Ann Conlin’s novel Heave, “an honest tale of family love and hate,” and “simply a marvelous book,” according to The Globe and Mail reviewer. In the near future, the Halifax readers will be discussing Budge Wilson’s fiction and poetry.

The Halifax Circle is also helping fundraise for Nova Scotia’s next Bookmark, one in partnership with Parks Canada, for a passage set at Citadel Hill from Hugh MacLennan’s novel, Barometer Rising. The novel is set just days before, during and after the Halifax Explosion, which took place 100 years ago on December 6, 1917. As great promoters of Project Bookmark Canada, the Reading Circle members and their many friends will be in full attendance at the public event to celebrate the Barometer Bookmark unveiling in December 2017. Project Bookmark Canada’s literary trail is being extended by Canadians like Sarah and her Circle who share a passion for Canada’s stories.

Project Bookmark Canada wishes to raise a toast to Sarah and the Halifax Reading Circle, and to thank them for their support. We encourage you to help blaze the trail in your own part of the country by starting a reading circle. If you think there are no writers using your area of the country as a location, ask your local librarians to help you find authors imagining fiction and poetry scenes set in your part of Canada.

Growing up on Cape Breton Island, I knew the island was the setting for many works of fiction and poems. However, I did not realize just how many until Sydney’s McConnell Library (the very library I used as a child) posted a list on its website. Your local librarian could do the same.

The Hamilton Library compiled a list for Hamilton’s Reading Circle. Included on that list was Rachael Preston’s novel The Fishers of Paradise. Circle members read the novel and in the fall of 2016, they attended the unveiling of the Fishers Bookmark at Hamilton’s waterfront trail where the novel is set. Your Reading Circle may want to focus outside your community. Canada is a huge country with many writers. You might want to explore another province and territory through its literature. Another focus could be Acadian literature, French Canadian literature, Aboriginal writers, or children’s literature. The 17th Bookmark for Dennis Lee’s The Cat and the Wizard is located at the entrance of Toronto’s Casa Loma. This is the first children’s tale to be Bookmarked. This genre has many potential Bookmarks.

A wonderful source of poems is the writing of poet laureates all over the country. Cities like Toronto, Charlottetown, Victoria, Calgary, Halifax and Edmonton are only a few of the cities that have poets writing about them.

CBC’s Canada Reads provides a great library of novels in French and English. Since 2002, this “battle of the books” has engaged Canadians in a contest that determines which book Canadians should read. Interestingly, its first English-language choice was In the Skin of a Lion, the first Bookmark

To get you and your book lovers fired up to help blaze a Canadian literary trail, I strongly recommend the video of Nova Scotia writer Sheree Fitch, filmed at her home in River John as part of the River John WRITERS ON FIRE Festival, an exciting festival of writing for teen writers. Once you get your circle together, Bookmark is eager to help. As well, Sarah is willing to talk with anyone starting a reading circle. And along the way, we will post articles and pictures of your progress. To become familiar with the criteria for an excerpt, check out the submission form.

This year as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Bookmark is celebrating its 10th anniversary. In this nation of storytellers, what better time to honour our writers! All over the country, reading circles will be part of adding to Canada’s literary map, one Bookmark at a time. As Sheree Fitch suggests, “We may be able to read our way across Canada.” In years to come when Sarah makes another road trip across the country, she will have many more stops along the trail of Canada’s tales.