It was an exciting day for the Trent English department this Wednesday, as Traill College hosted the book launch for our very own Joanne Findon. Findon’s Seeking our Eden was published this past February by the McGill-Queens University Press, and has so far received a positive review from the University of Ottawa. The book launch at Traill was packed with current and previous staff, as well as many students that came out to support Findon’s success and learn more about her journey publishing this book.
The evening started off with introductions by Professor Suzanne Bailey. Professor Bailey outlined Findon’s previous research of medieval studies and past publications Canadian children’s literature.
Findon began by explaining how she became interested in her research subject, Sarah Jameson Craig, and lead the audience briefly through the beginning stages of Craig’s life by reading passages from her book and provided contextual information to help summarize her research. Findon told Craig’s story through a combination of a fascinating narrative – which she shaped from old diaries and Craig’s incomplete memoir – and a description of the social movements that were prominent during the nineteenth century, such as utopian colonies, dress reform, and watercure. Findon had also set up a rolling slide show that cycled through pictures of these practices and provided interesting context for the activist motivations Craig describes in her writings.
In only an hour long presentation, Findon managed to give the audience a glimpse into Craig’s life, and, by revealing that her research subject was her own great-grandmother, brought the story to a personal level. At the end, an audience member asked Findon if there were any struggles she had in the publishing process being that she was studying a family member. Findon answered, saying that she was told not to reveal this information to her publisher, but eventually did so in the end. As she read passages to the audience of her own experiences revisiting her family history, however, and articulated how it helped her to appreciate her grandmother, as well as understand many of her inherited character traits, these personal ties to the story made the launch a captivating experience that left me wanting to know more about this time period and other Canadian figures that might have had an impact on our culture today.