Table-top treats

Free Press reviewers peruse a plethora of coffee-table books


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Stuck in the Middle 2: Defining Views of ManitobaBy Bartley Kives and Bryan ScottGreat Plains Publications, 220 pages, $35

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/12/2017 (1811 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Stuck in the Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba
By Bartley Kives and Bryan Scott
Great Plains Publications, 220 pages, $35

In their latest collaboration, reporter and author Bartley Kives and photographer Bryan Scott offer a compelling look at virtually every corner of our vast province.

Stuck in the Middle 2 takes much the same format as the pair’s first book, 2013’s award-winning Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg.

Bryan Scott photo Decaying grain elevators like this one in Oberon are among the rural landmarks that haunt the pages of the latest collaboration between writer/reporter Bartley Kives and photographer Byran Scott.

Kives’s knowledge of rural Manitoba is extensive; his reporting, first with the Winnipeg Free Press and now with the CBC, has seen him cover much of Manitoba, and his first book, 2006’s A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, picked up on his passion for the outdoors. Most of Scott’s photography, meanwhile, has centred around Winnipeg; as he admits in the introduction, “I was really approaching (the project) like a tourist, because I was seeing things for the first time. Winnipeg I know like the back of my hand. Manitoba, to a very large extent, has always been very foreign to me.”

This contrast in knowledge about life beyond the Perimeter Highway offers a captivating interplay. Kives’s text is strong throughout, showing off his deep knowledge of most areas of the province while retaining his fairly dry sense of humour. Scott’s photos — particularly in his primary area of interest, “where the built environment and the natural environment collide” — are equal to the task. Decaying grain elevators, decrepit pickup trucks in farm yards and shots of small-town main drags are among the images that will stay with you long after you put the book down, and the chapter that sees Kives and Scott venture up to Churchill and surrounding area is the among the book’s best.

No Manitoban has the singular defining view of the province and despite the book’s subtitle, Kives and Scott aren’t claiming to offer such a thing here. What they have accomplished, however, is to offer a moving snapshot of where we live that Manitobans are sure to cherish.

— Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson


The North End Revisited
By John Paskievich
University of Manitoba Press, 248 pages, $40

First released in 2007, John Paskievich’s The North End quickly became a staple of photo-book collections across the city.

Ten years later, we see a worthy update with The North End Revisited, boasting 80 additional images, a fresh Q&A with Paskievich by Alison Gillmor and an exploration of the work by film scholar George Melnyk.

Another welcome addition are the location tags under each photo, notably missing from the first edition.

The photos remain undated and not laid out chronologically, but that’s never a problem. Individually, each photo is rich in context and never without reason.

The stories unfold naturally while including enough environment to add the needed layers of tension and/or humour. Their timelessness make dating them irrelevant.

Paskievich has photographed the North End for 40 years, and while he says he’s not much of an insider anymore — “I’m an old white guy. Sometimes I’m told where to go. So I go,” he says — his work remains that of someone with roots deeply planted in the area and the stories its people tell in his 125/sec images. He has found the elusive balance between historical documentation and esthetic perfection found in the likes of Robert Frank’s The Americans.

But the North End is ours in all its quirks and glory. And Paskievich reminds Winnipeggers why we should be proud of that.

— Mike Aporius


Lake Superior to Manitoba by Canoe: Mapping the Route into the Heart of the Continent
By Hap Wilson
Firefly Books, 176 pages, $30

After dark mornings inhaling exhaust from a thawing vehicle, the cover photo of the summer sun coming up on a tent and canoe in the unspoiled wilderness of northwestern Ontario is enough to melt a shivering Canadian’s heart.

Author and mapmaker Hap Wilson offers an antidote to the winter-weary, laying out 12 canoe routes from Lake Superior to Manitoba’s eastern boundary. The routes have varying levels of difficulty and rewards for adventurers who take them. White Otter Castle is just one of the enticements on the Agimak Trail, for instance. The 40-kilometre trail — recommended for the experienced novice — passes by the restored log palace complete with a 12-metre tower. The hand-hewn castle was completed in 1914 by loner Jimmy McQuat, who built it on his own at White Otter Lake. His plans to bring a mail-order bride to join him at the castle failed and four years later, McQuat drowned in front of it while netting fish.

If the legendary castle isn’t enough to entice a canoeist to pick up their paddle and go, the Agimak Trail also features Indigenous pictographs and the site of a Second World War prisoner-of-war camp. The photos and trail diaries offer an escape to dreamers, and plant the seeds for a spectacular summer getaway for those willing and able to go. For the wannabe voyageur or paddling/portaging voyeur on your list.

— Carol Sanders


100: A Century of NHL Memories: Rare Photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame
By Phil Pritchard with Jim Hynes
Griffintown, 160 pages, $50

In our hi-def age of hockey viewing driven by multiple camera angles, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that for much of the NHL’s 100 years, the only images captured were still photos.

But in throwing open the doors to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s archives, these rare photos — many of which are in black and white — add depth and perspective for those who love the game that you simply cannot get on your wide-screen TV.

This book that celebrates the NHL’s centennial scores with its selection of 130 images of the game’s heroes, with a nod to not just the likes of King Clancy, Rocket Richard and Bobby Hull, but also more recent stars such as Patrik Laine and Jonathon Toews.

— Paul Samyn


Into the Fire: The Fight to Save Fort McMurray
By Jerron Hawley, Graham Hurley, and Steve Sackett
McClelland & Stewart, 150 pages, $30

With rampant forest fires continuing to fuel American TV news cycles, Into the Fire might easily be dismissed as just another look at unfortunate natural disasters. But the book delivers much more than the most action-packed Chicago Fire cliffhanger. It’s hard not to feel the heat and hear the roar as the fiery narrative unfolds — “reality reading” at its best.

This dramatic eyewitness account documents the Horse River Fire, a.k.a. “The Beast” — one of North America’s most calamitous tragedies. During one week in May 2016, more than 500,000 hectares of land and 2,400 buildings were destroyed; 88,000 residents evacuated Fort McMurray, and the post-disaster insurance claims totalled billions of dollars.

Jerron Hawley, Graham Hurley and Steve Sackett were among the hundreds of Canadian firefighters and emergency personnel who battled the Northern Alberta blazes that year. They’ve combined their personal journals, kept during the event, with more than 90 compelling photographs in this intense, insightful, firsthand account.

— G.C. Cabana-Coldwell


Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves
By Kate T. Parker
Workman Publishing, 256 pages, $27

In all certainty, strength is beauty. It’s a maxim most of us — including Atlanta-based photographer Kate T. Parker — teach our daughters to help them become tenacious, self-supporting women.

Parker has two of them — Ella and Alice — and after regularly placing the boisterous pair in front of her camera during their most natural, unencumbered moments, the camerawoman sought out other fierce, funny, adventurous, assertive, loud, defiant subjects with similar messy hair, dirty feet or scars.

The result, Strong Is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves, is a collection of more than 175 inspirational photographs and encouraging, thought-provoking quotes that might possibly serve as an inspiration to moms and dads who struggle daily to parent with even a fragment of calm reassurance.

If not, this 256-page table-top book is a treat to gaze at, and will surely be a reminder that confidence, resilience, perseverance, creativity, determination, kindness, fearlessness, joyfulness and independence are qualities equally as beautiful in girls and boys.

— Leesa Dahl


Lonely Planet: Epic Drives of the World
Lonely Planet, 328 pages, $50

For this follow-up to Epic Bike Rides of the World, Lonely Planet asked their network of travel writers to suggest the world’s best road trips, then selected 50 to feature in this book.

Each of the 50 trips is illustrated with spectacular photography and vivid description, tips on when and how to travel, plus outlines of thematically similar routes, such as “music pilgrimages” or “racing circuits.”

The drives in the book range from easy rambles along Route 66 to challenging expeditions across the Kalahari or the Australian outback. While the book is global in scope, American trips feature heavily.

For utility, Epic Drives would benefit from a more thorough indexing system; the brief index lists drives by name and country, but a map would be more useful for tourists trying to figure out if one of the trips is near their destination.

But at its heart this is not a guidebook. It’s a compendium of dreams, designed to dazzle armchair globetrotters and light a creative fire under jet-setters looking for their next adventure.

— Wendy Sawatzky


National Geographic Atlas of Beer: A Globe-Trotting Journey Through the World of Beer
By Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark W. Patterson
National Geographic, 304 pages, $50

Beer is one of the few drinks made in virtually every corner of the world. Leave it to National Geographic, then, to brew up an accessible global guide to lagers and ales.

Following some general beer-tasting tips from Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, the book delves right into exploring the beer-producing countries of the world by continent. Each region features a brief overview, a feature on specific brews or beer styles of the region as well as suggestion for which breweries to try and even directions on how to order a beer in numerous languages (always helpful). Each section also includes a map featuring little barrels indicating brewery locations as well as photos.

Europe dominates the first third of the book, and rightfully so; Belgium and the U.K. alone are subjects worthy of their own brew guides. North America occupies the second-most space, although Canada only earns seven of those pages. Additionally, Manitoba’s piece of our national map will have to be updated in the next edition, as we’re shown with four breweries when we’re now closer to a dozen (and rising).

There’s a handy glossary of beer terms at the back of the book as well. It’s a handsome addition to your beer-loving pal’s coffee table or bartop.

— Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson


Canada: 150 Panoramas
By George Fischer
Nimbus Publishing, 176 pages, $33

There has been much to celebrate in this 150th year of Canada’s Confederation. But how do you possibly capture all that this nation offers from coast to coast to coast?

For landscape photographer George Fischer, the answer to that question comes by way of 150 panoramas that provide a wide-angle perspective on every province and territory. Whether aboard a snowmobile in the arctic, a fishing boat at sea or a plane for stunning aerial shots, his lens brings home all the rugged beauty, small-town charm and raw grandeur of this country.

— Paul Samyn


Ingenious: How Canadian Innovators Made the World Smarter, Smaller, Kinder, Safer, Healthier, Wealthier and Happier
By David Johnston and Tom Jenkins
Signal/McClelland & Stewart, 248 pages, $40

We all know that a Canadian invented the Blackberry, the once-ubiquitous CEO accessory turned worn-out tech joke. But you probably didn’t know we can also take credit for the invention of the chocolate bar.

This collection of Canadian ingenuity is pretty mind-blowing and goes well beyond just physical inventions such as the light bulb or the garbage bag (which was invented in Winnipeg, by the way). It also delves into the history of concepts born from Canadian minds, such as peacekeeping and restorative justice.

And as a bonus, the patriotic trivia is accompanied by some practical checklists to help would-be innovators make their idea become reality.

And yes, hockey is in there.

— Graeme Bruce


The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country: The Centennial of 1967
By Tom Hawthorn
Douglas & McIntyre, 208 pages, $27

There’s a family photo of my three-year-old little sister and myself, she after having been to a hairdresser for the first time and me celebrating my seventh birthday. But clutched in our hands? Small purple flags with the Canada Centennial logo emblazoned on them.

Such was the omnipresent nature of the multi-triangular symbol during Canada’s Centennial year in 1967. But, especially when you compare that year to the pretty low-key 150th anniversary of the country this year, Canadians were in a party mood and they celebrated their country like they have never celebrated before or since.

Hawthorn looks at the centennial year, and argues that Canada was a different country in 1966 than it was in 1968. Canadians didn’t just celebrate the year by themselves — they invited the world to party with them, especially at Expo ‘67 in Montreal. The author says the roots of multiculturalism and acceptance of peoples from around the world were forged in this celebratory cauldron.

Whether it was in the arts, through sports, at government or citizen-led celebrations, or major capital projects that are still around us today, including our Centennial Concert Hall, Canadians celebrated almost like they were at a hockey final which stretched for 365 days.

Canadians may have blown out those birthday candles 50 years ago, but those who were around, and others, can relive that year through this book.

— Kevin Rollason


Portraits of the North
By Gerald Kuehl
Editions des Plaines, 240 pages, $35

Gerald Kuehl is a Manitoba artist with a keen eye and a deft hand, richly talented in the art of pencil drawings. His book was 20 years in the making; he spent years researching Indigenous elders and leaders, mostly from Manitoba, and travelled throughout the north to seek them out in person. With each, he conducted interviews and took photographs and on his return home, he turned his eye and hand to create drawings and profiles of their lives.

In short, Kuehl has delivered great art with the humblest of instruments — a lead pencil. The result pays tribute to the trials and triumphs of First Nations and Métis individuals. His drawings show faces stamped with the cusp of change, a journey that took many from their beginnings of life on the land, through the travails of the 20th century and into the dawn of the digital age.

For art and history lovers, this book is Kuehl’s first tribute to Indigenous notables. It probably won’t be his last.

— Alexandra Paul


Sir John Franklin’s Erebus and Terror Expedition: Lost and Found
By Gillian Hutchinson
Raincoast, 176 pages, $27

It was the stuff of legend: two ships equipped with the latest techniques that engineers in 1845 could muster to withstand Arctic ice, packed with enough stores for their crews to last three years away from civilization, looking for a route to the Far East that had never been navigated and commanded by a veteran captain of the Arctic waters, just disappeared. Various rescue expeditions were mounted in the years that followed, some funded by the faithful wife of the captain, but they came up with few clues as to what happened. Some bodies were found, bits and pieces of the ship and crew’s belongings were found, but the ships themselves? Gone into the Arctic water and ice.

Until recent years, that is. Franklin’s ships were finally discovered almost 170 years after they disappeared by investigators with Parks Canada sitting at the bottom of Arctic waters — Erebus in 2014 and Terror in 2016.

Many other books have been written about the Franklin expedition, but this one has both the beginning and end of the voyage, with details about the expedition, the ships, the rescue expeditions, and the crew themselves — including actual photographs of Franklin and his officers thanks to the recently developed technique of daguerreotypes — and concluding with underwater photos of the ships. It is also filled with numerous photographs of items found during the searches for the expedition.

The author tells the reader that more questions could still be answered now that the wrecks have been found. There is even the tantalizing possibility that, if stored properly, there might still be some written material from the officers as to what was happening to the explorers before the ships sunk.

— Kevin Rollason


The Beaver Hall Group and its Legacy
By Evelyn Walters
Dundurn, 184 pages, $30

The art of Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group finds its place in Canadian art history on a footing with its contemporaries, the Group of Seven, in this long-awaited edition, a follow-up to Walter’s first book, the acclaimed The Women of Beaver Hall: Canadian Modernists Painters.

Richly illustrated with some of the group’s finest paintings, Walters also offers biographical profiles of 25 artists who belonged to the group. The group was the first to admit women as members, despite the inclusion of artists such as Emily Carr in the better-known Group of Seven. This book pays homage some of the finest women painters in Canada’s history that you’ve probably never heard of. It will make you wonder why this group is only now getting public recognition.

For art lovers, history buffs and anyone with an interest in Montreal during its 20th-century heyday as the country’s commercial hub, this book will probably have you scanning the signatures of family portraits, streetscapes, and landscapes your parents and grandparents handed down.

— Carl DeGurse


Aerial Geology: A High-Altitude Tour of North America’s Spectacular Volcanoes, Canyons, Glaciers, Lakes, Craters, and Peaks
By Mary Caperton Morton
Timber Press, 308 pages, $45

With a gorgeous collection of curated aerial photography and engaging text by Montana science and travel writer Mary Caperton Morton, Aerial Geology rocks.

Morton examines some of the continent’s most stunning land masses, detailing their origins, compositions and how they have evolved (and are evolving) over time. Each of the 100 land masses profiled also includes a small “Flight Pattern” fact box that details when you should be peering out the window of a plane as you fly overhead.

Manitoba’s only representation is via a couple of pages about Hudson Bay, and even then the province isn’t mentioned by name (although the book notes the polar bears).

The book’s subject matter may sound dull on the surface, but the stunning photos and accessible text ensures things don’t move at a glacial pace.


—Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

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