A book to the past


Clyde Macdonald’s book launch may have been a bit different for his 18th book, Pictonians at War, than others but his passion for the subject and writing certainly remain. The former Justice and now the author has just released his latest book about Pictou County men that faced extraordinary circumstances in wartime.

“This is in relation to the five Pictonians that were summarily executed by Hitler Youth,” said Macdonald. He shared the idea for the book came from a number of people that brought information forth that really spurred the interest of the writer to dig much deeper into the story.

A big part of these assassinations was German SS Commander Kurt Meyer who was put on trial and sentenced for these murders, eventually spending part of his sentence in the Dorchester Prison. Macdonald mentioned that while in Dorchester Meyer befriended a New Glasgow man, Dentist James Milne, who was imprisoned for performing illegal abortions. Continuously through his research and contact with his sources for the book Macdonald was surprised to find out the many connections Pictou County has to history and the world in general.

One of the bits of information about Nova Scotia and WWI that he found quite fascinating though was the use of draft horses overseas. Macdonald shared that during his research he took quite an interest in the role that the horses played as well. Many he explained were shipped to Halifax and brought by ship to England where they would later go off to Belgium and France to complete jobs such as transporting heavy cannons for the soldiers.

“Mules were very useful during the first World War because they were hardy and could get around in mud added Macdonald to his comments about the use of horses.

Macdonald also shared another anecdote of the book that included a local soldier named Orris Cook of Springville. The author went on to share that Cook had a rough and tough record in the military having been wounded three times before finally being taken out of combat. Cook suffered a Bayonette to the groin, shrapnel to his back and ultimately part of his skull was blown off. Cook went on to be a well-known member of the community and a popular Scout troop leader after the war.

Getting into the rural side of the war as he branched out to Cook’s story Macdonald also mentioned the Forestry Core, for which a recruitment poster can be found on the cover of his book. The author shared that rural areas such as Blue Mountain were heavily targeted in recruitment for the Forestry core as recruitment officers sought men who worked in sawmills and in the woods.

“They would end up in England and Scotland,” said Macdonald. These recruits he added would end up in sawmills creating lumber for the trenches overseas. Some of the recruits would eventually request to go overseas and help there as well.

Following the same path as his other books, Macdonald said that his newest book, which can be purchased for $20, will see proceeds go to local charities. With 49 sold on the first day, the books are going fast however so those interested can contact Macdonald at 902-755-4738 or clydefinlay@me.com to get their own copy via contactless delivery.