Exciting New Book Releases
Recommendations to Rouse You from Your Winter Slumber - theHumm March 2024

Exciting New Book Releases
Recommendations to Rouse You from Your Winter Slumber - theHumm March 2024

By John Pigeau

There’s one week in December when the days feel like they’re five minutes long. You wake in the dark, you eat dinner in the dark. It’s cold and grey and bleak, and your car won’t start. You wish you were a bear — hibernating. Every year, that’s right about that time I get thinking about spring. I’ll look up the day the clocks spring forward, and note the time when the sun will set that day. Invariably, this cheers me up a little. A little.

But now that it’s March — well, if you’re anything like me, you’re absolutely thrilled!

Officially, March 19th marks the first day of spring. That’s a Tuesday, which is sort of perfect, really, since Tuesday’s the day bookshops put out new titles — and there are oodles of new books coming out this spring to be excited about.

At the top of my list for March is Carleigh Baker’s Last Woman, a collection of fifteen short stories that are “inventive, a little weird, and very, very cool.” Greenwood author Michael Christie called Last Woman (McClelland & Stewart) “a knockout … I gulped these pages in one sitting,” he wrote, “but their insights will linger for years to come.” The cover art for this bold, beguiling collection — in bookstores on March 5 — will knock your socks off too.

Out the same day is Helen Oyeyemi’s joyous new offering, Parasol Against the Axe. The novel, Oyeyemi’s eleventh, is set in Prague and takes place during a weekend hen party involving a book whose text changes every time it’s opened. The Nigerian-born writer Irenosen Okojie calls Parasol Against the Axe (Hamish Hamilton) “A terrific mercurial work,” noting that “Oyeyemi has mastered the art of bold, expansive storytelling.” The cover design is trippy and striking as well.

The most anticipated collection of poems out this Spring might be A Year of Last Things, Michael Ondaajte’s long-awaited return to his poetic roots. Ondaajte, Man Booker Prize winner and one of the world’s most celebrated novelists, rewards with a “gorgeously surprising” and glittering collection of poems that reflect the intimate, emotional history of a writer, traveller and watcher of the world. A Year of Last Things (McClelland & Stewart) hits bookstore shelves on March 19.

Every year, Canada’s independent book publishers produce some of the finest titles you’ll find in bookshops. This year is no exception. Trouble is, these titles tend not to get a lot of hype or advertising. First-rate indie booksellers will often direct you to these great books. But most of them — unless they are nominated for a major literary award — go unheralded. Discerning readers would be wise to browse indie publishers’ websites. Check out their spring catalogues and you’ll discover plenty of fantastic titles.

One that’s on my radar is Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s novel Your Absence is Darkness (Biblioasis). Stefánsson is one of Iceland’s most beloved authors. Your Absence is Darkness (translated by Philip Roughton) is a heart-wrenching, hypnotic family saga that’s been praised enthusiastically for its extraordinary imagery, lyrical prose and superb storytelling. Your Absence is Darkness was selected by booksellers as a March Indie Next pick. You’ll find it in bookshops on March 6.

Another indie release I’m eagerly awaiting is Blue Notes (Book*hug) by Anne Cathrine Bomann (translated by Caroline Waight.) Billed as a literary medical thriller about loss, empathy, Big Pharma and societal norms, it has been described as “a captivating novel about grief, science and love.” Blue Notes should actually be in bookstores now. If in doubt, ask your local bookseller. I’m also told that Norma (Invisible), a novel about “widowhood and weirdos” by Sarah Mintz, might just be one the sleeper hits of the season — sure to please, surprise, disturb and titillate. “So dark it smarts,” they say. I can’t wait. The publication date for Norma is April 14.

Another absolute gem on my list is Threshold (Nimbus), a short story collection by the critically acclaimed, award-winning Nova Scotia author Carol Bruneau. The stories in Threshold explore the hypocrisies and contradictions of a world broken by racism, homelessness and climate change. Leo McKay Jr., the Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Like This, calls Bruneau’s latest “admirable and inspiring … a work of great power and insight.” Threshold’s publication date is April 30.

Maggie Nelson, Salman Rushdie and Amor Towles also have books out in April.

The beloved author of Bluets and The Argonauts, Nelson returns with Like Love: Essays and Conversations (McClelland & Stewart), a career-spanning collection of inspiring, revelrous essays about art and artists.

Towles, the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility, is back with Table for Two (Viking), a richly detailed and sharply drawn collection of short stories, including a novella featuring one of his most beloved characters.

Salman Rushdie’s Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder (Knopf Canada) might be the season’s most intriguing book. Answering violence with art, Rushdie offers a deeply personal account of surviving the savage attempt on his life nearly two summers ago. Knife is said to be a life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art and resilience.

May’s notable releases include new fiction from Claire Messud, Joyce Carol Oates and Colm Tóibín.

A book that’s absolutely sure to appeal to readers in the Ottawa Valley is Unrest (Random House) by Gwen Tuinman. Tuinman is already being hailed as “a major new talent in historical fiction.” The book is set in 1836 Bytown — a “lawless cesspool” in which “brash, duplicitous women, murder and mayhem, and illicit love abound.” Alix Hawley, author of My Name is a Knife, says “Unrest is a great adventure and an impressive portrait of little-known settler life around Ottawa. Its characters will live on in your mind.” You may wish to pre-order this one. It’s out on May 7.

Delightfully, Mill Street Books has just announced their first Author Event of 2024 — on March 14 at the Almonte Library, the incomparable Helen Humphreys will be reading from her moving new novel Followed by the Lark. Space is limited, so registration is required at missmillslibrary.com . You do not want to miss this. Followed by the Lark is a book to be treasured.

For the expert advice of local booksellers, please don’t hesitate to call Ann at Mill Street Books in Almonte (256–9090), Leslie Wallack at The Book Nook in Perth (267–2350), Peter and Heidi at Spark books & curios in Perth (466–0555), Kerri Edwards at Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls (283–0116), or the folks at White Pine Books in Arnprior (623–8800).


Pamela Stewart —An Invitation to Escape and Breathe - theHumm March 2024

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

theHumm’s mandate is to connect and promote Ottawa Valley people and events, and that is why abstract mixed media artist Pamela Stewart is qualified to be our featured artist this month. The website of this Kanata-based artist at paminottawa.com proudly proclaims that she is Co-Owner/Gallerist of the new Carleton Place Gallery located at 210 Bridge Street.



The Canadian Library
Truth and Reconciliation Through Art
- theHumm March 2024

By Terri Clarke

Art is a powerful medium. It can represent loss, grief, healing and hope. It can teach and open conversations. One very powerful example of this is The Canadian Library, a Truth and Reconciliation project. Now in process across the country, this initiative consists of communities creating an art installation together as a memorial to the 8000 murdered and missing Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQTIA+ persons.

The installation will consist of bookshelves filled with books wrapped in Indige......


First-Hand from James Keelaghan - theHumm March 2024

JUNO award-winning folk musician James Keelaghan has captivated audiences for decades with his soul-stirring lyrics and melodies rooted in the rich tapestry of Canadian history and culture. With his latest album Second Hand garnering critical acclaim and a 2024 JUNO nomination in the traditional folk category, he continues to showcase his exceptional talent and dedication to preserving and evolving the folk music tradition. Keelaghan will be performing a concert at St. Paul’s Unite......


Almonte Celtfest Ceilidh - theHumm March 2024

Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Almonte Celtfest Celidh featuring The Broken Bridges. The evening will start with a session at 6:30 and continue with sets starting at 8pm. The Broken Bridges is one of the rare groups that formed in 2020. Fern & Willow Marwood were a fiddle/banjo duo that turned trio by adding Graham Lindsey on guitar. They bring an energy to the stage that you’ll love!

The Ceilidh takes place on March 16 starting at 6:30pm at the Almonte Old Town Hall. Tickets......


The Bowes Brothers in Concert - theHumm March 2024

The Bowes Brothers have been entertaining people in this area for years with their distinctive take on Valley music. With four brothers singing together, the group is known for their terrific harmonies and on-stage banter. Their father Clarence also sang with them for years. And while they have di?erent day jobs, John, Eddie, Andy and Rod all live in the Carleton Place area.

The brothers have a special spot in their hearts for the Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital, and this con......


Building theFuture of Perth
The Linden Housing Co-operative Initiative
- theHumm March 2024

By Steven Welchner

A visionary project is taking root that will re-imagine affordable living in our community. The Linden Housing Co-operative is planning to develop an 80-unit eco-conscious, affordable housing complex behind Lanark Lodge on Christie Lake Road.

This initiative is born from the collaboration of passionate community members, including a small but dedicated Board of Directors, who are steering the project towards its goal. The proposed 4.5-acre site, currently owned by Lanark County, offers a u......


Exciting New Book Releases
Recommendations to Rouse You from Your Winter Slumber
- theHumm March 2024

By John Pigeau

There’s one week in December when the days feel like they’re five minutes long. You wake in the dark, you eat dinner in the dark. It’s cold and grey and bleak, and your car won’t start. You wish you were a bear — hibernating. Every year, that’s right about that time I get thinking about spring. I’ll look up the day the clocks spring forward, and note the time when the sun will set that day. Invariably, this cheers me up a little. A little.

But now that it’s March — well, if you’re an......


Basic Income:A Floor of Stabilityfor Creative Expression - theHumm March 2024

By — Rob Rainer is a founding member and the inaugural Chair of Lanark Basic Income Network. He is also the Reeve of Tay Valley Township, and in that capacity also sits on Lanark County Council.

The great novelist Julian Barnes (winner of the 2011 Booker Prize) has said of art that it “belongs to everybody and nobody,” that it “belongs to all time and no time,” that it “belongs to those who create it and those who savour it,” and that it “is the whisper of history, heard above the noise of time.”

In this sense, creative expression is arguably at the heart of the human experience, of what it means to be human. If this is true, one would think a humane society would wish to ensu......


Seedy Saturday Returns to Almonte! - theHumm March 2024

By David Hinks

Are you developing symptoms of “garden-withdrawal syndrome”? Drooling over seed catalogues? Sharpening garden tools until you can shave with them? Haunting the garden aisles of local hardware stores?

Take heart, there is a support group; a place where you can meet like-minded souls whose green thumbs are itching for action. Scott and Marisa, proprietors of Indian Creek Orchard Gardens indiancreekorchard.ca , have bravely (and perha......


Art is in the Air!
Celebrate Spring at the Maple Run Tour
- theHumm March 2024

Like a breath of fresh air, the Pakenham Maple Run Tour coming up on April 6 and 7 will refresh and energize after a long winter. A tour like no other, Maple Run is a unique blend of art, fine craft, interesting and heritage buildings and spectacular spring scenery. Art and fine craft are the roots of the tour, but the Maple Run venues are destinations all by themselves for their history, their architecture or their function. To top all that off, the tour takes place in maple syrup country, so a trip......


Classic Troubadours Live - theHumm March 2024

On April 20 at 3pm, Classic Troubadours Live presents the greatest songs by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne & Carole King… all in one unforgettable show!

Award-winning singer-songwriter Jacob Moon brings you a dynamic ensemble of incredible singers and musicians paying homage to these four icons. Join them as they dig into the catalogues of some of the most influential artists of their lifetime, including hits like Fire and Rain, Running on Empty, Big Yellow Taxi, ......


Maple Weekend
Sweet Family Fun in Store for April 6 & 7
- theHumm March 2024

Maple syrup producers in Lanark & District are gearing up for the biggest maple festival in Ontario — Maple Weekend. Held each spring on the first weekend of April (April 6 and 7 this year), it’s a fun, free, family-friendly event celebrating the harvest of one of Ontario’s sweetest crops.

“Maple Weekend is an invitation for visitors to come out and see a sugarbush in operation, and learn more about how it’s produced,” says Lanark & District Maple Syrup Producers’ Association president Le......


Climb All the Mountains - theHumm March 2024

By Glenda Jones

Once again, the Mississippi Mills Film Society is pulling out all the stops with a moving drama of friendship and philosophy to be screened on Sunday, March 24. The Eight Mountains is beautifully set in the Italian Alps, a perfect backdrop for the story of two lives intertwining from Italy to Nepal and back. This film débuted in Cannes in 2022, and has since won many awards at several international film festivals.

It explores the delicate relationship of two childhood friends as they ......


Soup for Thought(fullness)
Fill Your Bowls and Bellies at theMississippi Valley Textile Museum
- theHumm March 2024

The MVTM’s tastiest fundraising event is back and better than ever! Save the date and get your tickets for Soup for Thought(fullness), taking place on Saturday, April 20 from noon to 2pm at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. Doors will open at 11:45am, and this year will also feature a silent auction.At Soup for Thought(fullness), your $25 ticket includes a fabulous bowl, handmade by artists at the Almonte Potters Guild, and a delicious meal made by local businesses. If there are too......


Celebrate Art with a Spring Fling! - theHumm March 2024

Spring is the season of creation, and to celebrate, the West Carleton Arts Society (WCAS) is once again presenting its Spring Fling Art Show at the Kanata Civic Art Gallery, located at 2500 Campeau Road. The Spring Fling takes place from March 4–17, and will feature works by local artists in a range of media.

“This show offers original works of art and is always a fun event,” says Derrick Hewitt, WCAS Shows Director. “You’ll find watercolour, oil and acrylic paintings......


The Almonte Tea Dances are Back! - theHumm March 2024

Sunday afternoon tea dances organized by the Standing Room Only Big Band (SRO) are back in full swing at the beautiful Almonte Old Town Hall. The next two take place on March 3 and April 28.

The dances are held from 1:30–4pm in the upper hall at the Almonte Old Town Hall, located at 14 Bridge Street. Doors open at 1pm, and admission is $16 per person at the door or $30 per couple. Reservations are not required. Light refreshments are available, including delicious treats and a range of beverages (non-......


Pancake Breakfast at Union Hall
Reserve Your Spot for This Year’s Event!
- theHumm March 2024

By Linda Camponi

Once again, the folks at Union Hall will be celebrating the coming of spring at our annual Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, April 7 from 8am until noon.

Diners will enjoy generous portions of pancakes, ham or sausages, baked beans and blueberries, with butter and maple syrup (courtesy of Fortune Farms), accompanied by fruit juice, tea and Equator coffee. Gluten-free option are available. Prices for large and regular portions are $12 and $10 respectively. Children five and under eat for free.

This annual fundraiser is organized for the benefit of the local community. Bring the family ......


A Busy Time for Maple Farmers - theHumm March 2024

By — Jamie Fortune and his family run Fortune Farms <fortunefarms.ca>, located near Almonte in beautiful Lanark County

As I write this the snow is falling and temperatures are dropping, so our forests are getting a nice layer of insulation and future moisture for the coming maple season. It’s a busy time for maple farmers! We are pleased to report that our 2023 crop was average in quantity with excellent quality, despite a very warm February and a damaging ice storm in early April of 2023. Farming has risks, and we hope for stable weather patterns — not too warm, not too cold — throughout March and April, to pro......


Call for Participants
Crown and Pumpkin Studio Tour 2024
- theHumm March 2024

Are you a practicing artist or artisan interested in joining a dynamic tour with a long history of success? Consider joining the Crown and Pumpkin Studio Tour for the 28th annual Thanksgiving weekend event on October 12 and 13 in Almonte, Clayton and area. 

Organizers have openings for new members who make professional-quality, innovative work. Does this sound like your practice? If “yes”, they want to see your creations. To apply, submit digital images of recent work, and......


A Murder, You Say? - theHumm March 2024

By Glenda Jones

Yes, a murder, but only on paper! The Friends of the Mississippi Mills Public Library are one step closer to the March 10th benefit performance of the one-act play Who Killed the Curator, written by Almonte author Kathleen Reichelt.

Featuring five well-known local actors, this comedy will transport the audience back to the days of vintage staged radio plays when it was a social occasion to watch a reading. Ms. Reichelt has assembled a dynamic cast including David Frisch, Jennifer Pf......


Lots To Do in Mississippi Mills
March Break Movies & Skates and More
- theHumm March 2024

It’s time to think about your March Break plans, and Mississippi Mills has got you covered! The Recreation & Culture Department is sponsoring two free March Break Movie & Skate events to keep families busy.

The first event is set for Wednesday, March 13 at the John Levi Community Centre in Almonte. Free public skating will be offered from 1–3pm, and the movie Migration will be shown in the upper hall of the community centre from 2–3:30pm. The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre (MMYC) w......


Yikes!What Have I Done?? - theHumm March 2024

By Glenda Jones

Are you familiar with the phrase “fish or cut bait”? There are other variations, but this one is polite. We learned it in Nova Scotia, and it has stood me in good stead when decisions have to be made.

There are various ways to decide things. One is to flip a coin. You flip the coin, but wait — don’t uncover it yet. If it’s heads, will you be disappointed? If it’s tails, will you stand by this arbitrary way of deciding? Can you live with your decision, or will you throw the quarter back in y......


I Feel Good, I Got My Leather Goods! - theHumm March 2024

By Leanne Baker

Leather goods that are locally made, durable, variable in style and distinctly unique are a rare and valuable find. I cannot recall how many times I have looked for the right wallet, a good quality dog collar, or simple goods that improve the look of things. It doesn’t feel right to settle for a product like a wallet, when I know pulling it out is like a statement; you want to feel good about the things you own. I really value quality products that are locally made, so I was excited to discov......


Secondhand Stories
(Im-peck-ably Told, but Somewhat Fowl)
- theHumm March 2024

By Kris Riendeau

Secondhand Stories is a registered non-profit chicken sanctuary and online used book shop based in Rideau Lakes, whose mission is to provide a loving forever home to abandoned, abused, and neglected farmed animals. Owners Liz and Craig Wheeler have a palpable passion for chickens, but the story of how they went from living in the centre of Ottawa to caring for 19 birds on their property near Lombardy is rather egg-ceptional*, and truly inspirational.




Congratulations, Mississippi Mills Library! - theHumm March 2024

This past February, Christine Row, CEO of Mississippi Mills Public Library (MMPL) received the 2024 W.J. Robertson Medallion for Public Librarian of the Year! With much excitement and thanks, Row accepted the medallion at the Public Library Awards Gala held in Toronto.

Awarded to a public librarian who demonstrates outstanding leadership, this provincial award recognizes and honours significant top contributions to the library profession. In her acceptance speech, Row described how libra......


Quality of Life — Not Just a Cliché at Home Hospice - theHumm March 2024

By — Wendy O’Keefe is a Volunteer Consultant with Home Hospice North Lanark

You may wonder why theHumm — an arts and entertainment publication — is running a story from Home Hospice North Lanark (HHNL). Well, on the masthead of theHumm it also says “…and Ideas.” That’s where we fit in. The “idea” we want to share is that everyone is entitled to a beautiful birth and a beautiful death. Yes, in most cases it can be beautiful.

The concept of hospice care was first championed by a woman named Cicely Saunders in the UK. She founded the first modern hospice and, more than anybody else, was responsible for establishing the discipline and the culture of palliati......


Hang On to Quilts — There’s a Story There - theHumm March 2024

By Sally Smith

What to do with that old quilt? It’s been in the upstairs trunk for years. Get rid of it? Hang on to it?

What’s the story behind it, anyway? Did Grandpa make it, or Mom? It was probably Mom…

For Olive Pheby Johnston, back in the day quilting was a necessity; the quilts she made kept her seven children warm throughout many cold Ontario winters.

But it was not just having babies and quilting that kept her vibrant and active into her old age (she lived from 1890 to 1971); during much of her ......