Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Ellen McIntosh-Green

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Ten Questions with Ellen McIntosh-Green

Ellen McIntosh-Green speaks with Open Book: Toronto about her latest book, Elizabeth Simcoe’s Canadian Journey, reading and writing. She will be signing copies of her book at the Ontario Library Association Expo on Feb. 26 at noon.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your book, Elizabeth Simcoe's Canadian Journey.

Ellen McIntosh-Green:

When I wrote this book I wanted it to read as though I were sitting beside Elizabeth Simcoe and she was telling me the story of what happened in those five years in Canada. She had a great many adventures, but certain stories seemed to leap off the page for me. Her delight, in the splendid wilderness of Canada is almost palpable. She was passionately in love with nature and what better place could she have found than Upper Canada, the place we now call Ontario?

Elizabeth Simcoe was orphaned shortly after her birth. She was born an upper class, English gentlewoman who inherited thousands of acres of land with county houses and countless servants. At the age of sixteen she married John Graves Simcoe a man who would later become the first Lt. Gov. of Upper Canada. She came to Canada at the age of twenty five and was delighted to live in canvas tents, summer and winter, for much of her stay in the new world. A passionate, brave, talented woman she was always devoted to her husband and family, and to her country. As one of the first historically important woman to come to Canada she was all and more than we could have wished. Her story is both joyous and tragic and it is my hope that it will now reach more Canadians.

 

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

EMG:

I had no specific readership in mind when I wrote this book. I thought every Canadian needed to know more about this woman’s story and I set about telling it.

OBT:

Was it uncommon for a woman to keep a careful record of her life in the late eighteenth century?

EMG:

It was indeed uncommon for a woman of the late eighteenth century to keep such a careful record of her travels, especially under circumstances such as those Elizabeth Simcoe encountered in the wilds of eighteenth century Canada. Not only did she write about her experiences, she also painted what she saw. She created hundreds of sketches on paper and on birch bark. Although she was not trained as a topographical artist, she was determined to depict her travels for herself and for future generations. Having both a written and visual representation of her experience by the wife of Ontario’s first Lieutenant Governor is a rare luxury.

OBT:

Tell us about Elizabeth Simcoe's diary. What are some of her impressions of Ontario that really stand out for you?

EMG:

Elizabeth Simcoe’s description of Niagara Falls including the rushing of the water above the Falls, the circular green shape of the descent, the rainbow, and the view from the Table Rock, were especially captivating. The massive stands of timber, the cloud after cloud of passenger pigeons flying overhead, the endlessly fascinating picturesque images of Indians camping in a clearing or performing some simple, meaningful ritual were part of the fabric of Ontario at that time. What an amazing place it must have been for a woman who loved nature the way Elizabeth Simcoe did.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

EMG:

Sitting at the table in my studio with my laptop in front of me with unbroken time to write seems ideal to me.

OBT:

What is your favorite book?

EMG:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen has always been my favourite book. I re-read it about every five years.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

EMG:

I have so many Canadian books that I love that it is hard for me to pick three, but Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, The Piano Man’s Daughter by Timothy Findley, and Growing Pains by Emily Carr would certainly be among my choices.

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

EMG:

At the moment I am reading Margaret Laurence The Making of a Writer by Donez Xiques.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

EMG:

My advice for writers who are trying to get published would be to keep on writing. The creativity is in the writing.

OBT:

What is your next project?

EMG:

I have a collection of cautionary tales about the environment which I keep working on and I have an idea about a completely different kind of journey that I’m thinking about.

 
 

  Ellen McIntosh-Green is a visual artist and writer who lives in Simcoe, Ontario. She was Director and Curator of the Lynnwood Arts Centre [now the Norfolk Arts Centre] in Simcoe for almost twenty years. In that position she curated an exhibition of Elizabeth Simcoe’s paintings, a project which convinced her that Simcoe was no ordinary, upper class English dabbler.
While completing a BA in English from Victoria University at University of Toronto, Ellen wrote two academic papers on Elizabeth Simcoe, one on her paintings, and one on her journals. In the late 1980’s she received a Canada Arts Council grant to research Elizabeth Simcoe’s documents in England.
Currently Ellen devotes herself to writing and painting in Norfolk County, Ontario.

For more information on Elizabeth Simcoe’s Canadian Journey please visit the Bookland Press website.


Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.
 

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