Dorothy Dum­brille trib­ute

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - -- Richard Mahoney

Dorothy Dum­brille, a ground-break­ing, pro­lific and multi-tal­ented writer who be­came one of Alexandria’s most fa­mous cit­i­zens, will be cel­e­brated June 28 as part of the town’s 200th an­niver­sary fes­tiv­i­ties.

A CD in­spired by her po­etry will be launched and a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque in her hon­our will be un­veiled June 28 at Salle Fra­ter­nité at 6:30 p.m.

The CD is a col­lab­o­ra­tive work by lo­cal artists pay­ing trib­ute to the woman who is be­lieved to have been the first woman in Canada to write un­der her maiden name and who was the author of the only “Cana­dian Har­le­quin ro­mance.”

Mu­si­cians Paddy Kelly, the Cad­dells, Grace Gra­ham, Han­nah Faubert, Is­abelle Larocque, Joah Vail­lan­court, the Nadeau-Pa­caud Trio, the Camp­bells, au­thors Jean-Claude Larocque, Harry Ewen and Mary La­celle, au­dio en­gi­neer Jef­frey Teng have put to­gether the project.

Eight of Dorothy Dum­brille’s po­ems have been put to mu­sic.

Raoul et Wen­cie, a song writ­ten by Jean-Claude Larocque, re­counts the story of char­ac­ters in Mrs. Dum­brille’s 1945 book, “All This Dif­fer­ence.”

Ac­com­pa­nied by the mu­sic of Gabrielle Camp­bell, Mr. Larocque re­lates the ob­sta­cles faced by a French boy and a Scot­tish girl who fall in love.

The novel was re­leased by Progress Books, the pub­lish­ing arm of the Com­mu­nist Party of Canada, not be­cause Mrs. Dum­brille was a Com­mu­nist but be­cause Progress was the only publisher not to re­ject the man­u­script.

It was later printed by Har­le­quin. In fact, the ti­tle holds the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the very last book pub­lished be­fore the com­pany made the com­mit­ment to ro­mance only.

When it was ini­tially re­leased, it was hailed as “A great Cana­dian novel about two peo­ple in love and the web of prej­u­dice, pride and mis­un­der­stand­ing they are caught in.” The book was lauded as “an am­bi­tious work, re­mark­able for cram­ming cen­turies of his­tor­i­cal back­ground and a myr­iad of as­so­ci­ated ideas, view­points, and de­bates con­cern­ing Canada’s French-English ten­sions into a mere 208 pages.”

Dorothy Dum­brille was born in Crysler in Septem­ber 1897.

She wore many hats. She worked from 1916 to 1921 for the Depart­ment of Mili­tia and De­fence in Ottawa; three years (1921 to 1924) with the Prov­i­dent Mu­tual Life In­sur­ance Co. in Philadel­phia; 20 years as a book re­viewer for The Globe and Mail; and more than 16 years on the St. Lawrence Parks Com­mis­sion, where she was in­volved in the plan­ning and cre­ation of Up­per Canada Vil­lage.

She mar­ried Alexandria High School prin­ci­pal J.T. Smith in De­cem­ber 1924 and re­lo­cated to town soon there­after.

Among her more pop­u­lar works were a novel, Deep Door­ways (1947), and The Bat­tle of Crysler’s

Farm (1967), as well as two books chron­i­cling Glen­garry County his­tory – Up and Down the Glens (1954) and Brag­gart in My Step (1956).

She died in Alexandria on Nov. 11, 1981 at the age of 84.

Glen­garry Town

The first song on the CD, Glen­garry Town, writ­ten by Marc La­celle and edited by Harry Ewen revels in Alexandria and its charms. It has be­come the un­of­fi­cial theme song of the bi­cen­ten­nial ac­tiv­i­ties.

Also at the event, in ad­di­tion to mu­si­cians per­form­ing songs from the al­bum, Marc Lan­thier will present a slide show on the his­tory of Lan­thier Bak­ery. His­tor­i­cal pre­sen­ta­tions, slide shows and dec­o­ra­tions will be on dis­play through­out the hall. Ta­pas will be served by the Quirky Car­rot.

Dorothy Dum­brille

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