Award-winning journalist Andrea Curtis explores the shadows cast over her family by a century-old shipwreck and uncovers the tragedy, disaster and promise of early life on the Great Lakes.
Every family has a story, passed down through generations. For Andrea Curtis that story is the wreck of the SS J.H. Jones. In 1906, the late-November swells of Georgian Bay erupt into a blinding storm, sinking the Jones and claiming the lives of all on board. Left in the wake is Captain Jim Crawford’s one-year-old daughter, Eleanor, who faces a daunting future of poverty and isolation.
But Eleanor emerges from her childhood determined to leave behind the restrictions of her small town. She plunges into the excitement of Jazz-era California and 1930s Montreal, struggling to become a poet and a writer. Almost a century later, Andrea knows her grandmother Eleanor only as a sophisticated, respected Montreal matriarch. Until, while researching Jim Crawford’s role in the Jones tragedy, she discovers that Eleanor had a hidden past.
Using family stories, archival research and fictionalized re-enactments, Andrea Curtis narrates her family’s history, and that of the place they once called home. Into the Blue shimmers with Curtis’s rich and reflective voice, recreating a little-known but formative time when Canadians persevered through unthinkable loss, violence and disaster, and brings to life a grand era of Great Lakes history. This is a worthy peer to such beloved memoirs as David Macfarlane’s The Danger Tree and Roy MacGregor’s A Life in the Bush.