It takes a special teacher to help us understand ourselves better and it’s work that Saskatoon author Bill Waiser has made his life’s mission. “History is not about facts,” exclaims Waiser. “It’s about change over time and there are always new sources, new ways of looking at things.”
Waiser dug deep into Saskatchewan’s historical records for his latest book A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan before 1905. The work takes a look at Saskatchewan before 1905. “I pulled a bit of a George Lucas here, this book is a prequel” he jokes. “This book compliments Saskatchewan: A New History which I wrote to mark the Centennial in 2005.”
“I pulled a bit of a George Lucas here, this new book is a prequel”
A World We Have Lost begins with the arrival of Henry Kelsey on the prairies in 1690. It sheds new light on Saskatchewan before it was colonized. “Everyone thinks the fur trade was the only thing Indian and Metis people did here for enterprise and it’s just not true,” says Waiser. He says most history books rarely go back before settlement but that the hunter/gatherer way of life had its own economy. Newcomers to the prairies had to learn to work with and deal within the Indian world first.
Waiser insists this isn’t some boring history text book. Working with designer Kerry Plumley and photographer John Perret, this book is full of beautiful colour photos and maps that bring our history to life.
The text is not just facts and figures, Waiser has a classic storytelling style that focuses in on individual people to show how their personal story reflects the time and place. “One chapter opens with 18 year-old David Cowan, a young RCMP officer dispatched to the prairies.” Waiser explains, “In the photo he looks like a child playing dress up in a uniform that is way to big for him. In a way, he is a symbol of our province at the time, young, promising, full of optimism and with plenty of room to grow.
If you like a good evening of storytelling there’s a big launch party planned for this book. It’s happening this Friday night (June 10, 2016 7p.m.)at the Broadway Theatre. The evening will be hosted by Guy Vanderhague. There will be a Q&A as well as a reading and special entertainment by B.D. Willoughby.
More information here.