Writer and historian Neil McQuarrie is jumping in with both feet—and he couldn’t be happier.
The Brandon, Man. resident temporarily has returned to the town where he grew up in order to collect information that will make his writing of the 2003 Centennial History Book a bit easier.
“I am really looking at writing a book that focuses on the social history of Fort Frances,” McQuarrie said yesterday. “I want to know who lived here and how they lived.
“I really want to make this book a people’s history rather than an academic text,” he stressed.
With a great deal of work ahead of him, McQuarrie is wasting no time and already has begun his research.
“I have recently talked with a teacher who used to live here,” McQuarrie said. “He is a respectable historian and he has a great deal of useful information.
“I am just hoping there will be others in the community like him, who have memories that they would like to share,” he added. “There are a lot of people with special knowledge about different things and those people are the ones I would really like to talk to.”
McQuarrie’s own interest in history began when he discovered he knew nothing about his parents when they were children.
“My parents had passed away and I realized that I didn’t know anything about what their childhood had been like,” he remarked. “In order to make sure that didn’t happen with my own children, I decided that I would write down all of my childhood recollections.”
After three years of writing down memories, and having them published monthly in the Fort Frances Times, McQuarrie decided to collect them in a booklet entitled, “Recollections of a Fort Frances Childhood.”
“I have gotten a great deal of positive feedback from people who have read my book,” he said. “It is great to hear when something touches someone and they want to tell you about it.
“You can’t help but feel good.”
McQuarrie also is planning to make monthly trips to town to meet with the history book committee.
“I have relatives in town who are still willing to put me up,” he joked. “It is going to be a bit of travelling for me [from Brandon] but I don’t mind.
“I really want to knit together the stories of the people and families who lived in this community,” he stressed. “In the end, I think it is going to be a very interesting book that people are going to want to read.”