Lake’s story comes out in new book

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Og­den

Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog and the area around it, a re­mark­ably beau­ti­ful re­gion with a fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory, will soon get the at­ten­tion it de­serves in a new book by Og­den au­thor, film-maker and pho­tog­ra­pher, Louise Ab­bott. En­ti­tled Mem­phré­m­a­gog: An

Il­lus­trated His­tory/ Une his­toire il­lus­trée (Vol­ume 1), the bilin­gual and richly il­lus­trated book traces the ori­gins of the land and the lake and how man and na­ture have al­tered it.

“I con­ceived the idea for the book in 2011, but I’d been think­ing about the land and its his­tory much longer than that. My pub­lisher asked me to write a book about Ge­orgeville, but I sug­gested a book on the larger re­gion. I knew, from my child­hood, that it was an area that I loved and wanted to ex­plore,” com­mented Ms. Ab­bott in an in­ter­view with The

Stanstead Jour­nal.

“I go as far back as the Pa­le­o­zoic Era when the land around the lake was formed,” said Louise who in­ter­viewed Derek Booth, a pro­fes­sor of Ge­o­mor­phol­ogy, and ge­ol­o­gist Jef­frey Packard for the de­tails of the land­scape’s be­gin­nings. “They both spent their child­hoods at the lake and Jef­frey now lives by the lake. I was lucky to have people like that around me; I tapped all of their ex­per­tise.”

“In each chap­ter I go from the past right up to the present day. In one chap­ter I wrote about log­ging on the lake in the

1950’s and about a log sal­vaging oper­a­tion in the 2000’s. People can en­ter his­tory when you start with some­thing more cur­rent.”

Known for re­search­ing her sub­jects ex­ten­sively and putting a pri­or­ity on eye­wit­ness ac­counts, Ms. Ab­bott in­ter­viewed many Town­ship­pers for this first vol­ume which fo­cuses on the his­tory of the ‘work­ing’ land­scape. “I in­ter­viewed both Fran­co­phones and An­glo­phones for the book, like deeply­rooted An­glo­phone Irene McGowan McTav­ish, in her early nineties, about Ge­orgeville. I also spoke with his­to­rian Serge Gaudreau, of Ma­gog, whose fam­ily had an ice-cut­ting busi­ness on the lake.”

Some of the oth­ers in­ter­viewed for the book were his­to­rian Stephen Moore, Ge­orgeville’s John Boyn­ton, and Mal­colm Juby who pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about a num­ber of sub­jects in­clud­ing the light­houses that were once nu­mer­ous and nec­es­sary around the lake. Boat re­storer Ghis­lain Fre­niere, of Fitch Bay, spoke to Louise about boat-build­ing on

the lake. “It was re­ally fun to have some­one like him to learn about the old tra­di­tions from.”

“Mar­guerite Dun­lop has been help­ing me with my re­search for years. She’s an in­valu­able col­league who has worked with me on many projects; I trea­sure her col­lab­o­ra­tion,” added Louise.

“I have a whole chap­ter on Prov­ince Is­land,” con­tin­ued the au­thor about that mys­te­ri­ous isle in the lake that’s sur­rounded by ru­mors and tall tales. “I tried to set the record straight about Prov­ince Is­land and there’s a lot about one par­tic­u­lar owner, Andrew Zabriskie.”

In­spired by a young boy’s enthusiasm for Mem­phré, the lake’s myth­i­cal sea monster, there is also a chap­ter on that topic. “I’ve got the sea ser­pent! I did a lot of re­search on the sight­ings of the monster.”

The book has one hun­dred and seventy-five his­tor­i­cal pho­to­graphs, draw­ings and maps as well as ninety pho­to­graphs taken by Ms. Ab­bott or her hus­band, pho­tog­ra­pher Niels Jensen. “We went out in a ca­noe to pho­to­graph an­i­mals and ducks around the lake. You have to get into a boat to re­ally ex­plore that lake and its is­lands.” You can also ex­plore an area and take great pho­to­graphs from the air, as Louise found out thanks to Stanstead East res­i­dent and pi­lot, Ge­orge Weller. “That was great for pho­tograph­ing the lake. The plane was so small I could open the win­dow to take the shots!” There are also pho­tos in the book from the Na­tional Ar­chives of Canada.

A mem­ber of Mem­phrem­a­gog Con­ser­va­tion Inc., the en­vi­ron­men­tal group ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog, Ms. Ab­bott will do­nate some of the pro­ceeds of her new book to that or­ga­ni­za­tion. “Louise and Neils have been mem­bers of MCI for a long time. They of­fered to part­ner with us on the project, so we will help pub­li­cize and sell the book and get 10% of the sales. Louise will be pre­sent­ing the book at our AGM this Sun­day; it will be a beau­ti­ful book,” com­mented Claude Bernier, the pres­i­dent of MCI.

Struck by how many Town­ship­pers vol­un­teered their time and ex­per­tise to help with this book project, I asked Louise about this piece of luck. “I think people have such an in­ter­est and a love for the area, and a real sense of pride in this place,” she com­mented. “As some­one who lived here as a child, this project has been a won­der­ful rev­e­la­tion to me.”

Ms. Ab­bott will launch Mem­phré­m­a­gog: An Il­lus­trated His­tory/ Une his­toire il­lus­trée (Vol­ume 1) on Sun­day, July 20th, in Copp’s Square, Ge­orgeville, be­gin­ning at 11:00 am. Fur­ther launches will take place in Austin (July 24th), Man­sonville (Au­gust 2nd), New­port (Au­gust 9th), and in Ma­gog in Oc­to­ber. More in­for­ma­tion about the book can be found at the web­site www.ru­ral­routecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.com.

photo Niels Jen­son

Photo cour­tesy Wil­liam landry

Writer, film-maker and pho­tog­ra­pher Louise Ab­bott, seen here, has pro­duced a richly-il­lus­trated cof­feetable book about Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog and the re­gion around it.

The Stone fam­ily can be seen here around 1900 with hired hands dur­ing the hay­ing sea­son on their farm over­look­ing Lake Mem­phrem­a­gog be­tween Austin and Ma­gog.

Photo Louise Ab­bott

A photo of Fitch Bay, the largest bay in the lake, taken by Louise Ab­bott from the win­dow of Ge­orge Weller’s plane.

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