Dorothy Dumbrille tribute
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.
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.