Out of the Hallowed Halls and onto the Land | Reviews of “Heritage Atlas of Hastings County” and “Lennox & Addington.” Both Edited by Orland French. Wallbridge House Publishing


A couple of items arrived in the mail the other day. My old journalism instructor (and former Globe and Mail columnist) Orland French has left the hallowed halls of government and academia behind and has been travelling the province in recent years. In turn he has been publishing atlases of different regions of Ontario, Canada. The two that arrived this week were his insightful books called Heritage Atlas of Hastings County and Lennox & Addington.

Editor’s Note – Heritage Atlas of Hastings County Page 7

In the old days they used to publish atlases as wide as a barn door. You could cut out the pages and wallpaper a room. They were atlases to study during the evening in the parlour, in the guttering flicker of a candlelight. Or drag out on occasion to win a small wager with a friend.

Times change. This atlas is small enough to fit into the side pocket of your car door, to ride with you as a friendly reference while you explore the secrets and delights of Hastings County. Whether you’re looking for old gold mines, railway stations, cheese factories, colourful rocks or your great-granddad’s grave, you’ll find plenty of helpful direction in this atlas’s multitude of colourful maps.

These books go beyond travelogue though. French has researched this region of eastern Ontario thoroughly in all sorts of detail that makes it a great read.

Historical Railways Page 143

In the golden age of railways, a dozen different companies laid tracks in Hastings County. A few entrepreneurs dreamed of other railway ventures which never materialized. As motor cars, buses and transport trucks supplanted trains, rail lines were merged and gradually abandoned until today only two rail lines serve the Hastings County area.

And French has chosen colourful images to illustrated each book.

Snapshot of Pages 162-163 of "Heritage Atlas of Hastings County"
Snapshot of Pages 162-163 of “Heritage Atlas of Hastings County”

French incorporates as many local resources has he can in these volumes. The Lennox & Addington book was published in conjunction with the region’s community newspaper The Napanee Beaver for their 140th year of publication. Again French has compiled a fantastic atlas of this region of eastern Ontario.

Grammar, Penmanship and Other Lost Arts – Lennox & Addington – Page 105

Schooling in the early days of Lennox and Addington County was a sporadic affair, usually offered in private homes by private tutors, and only in settlements where there were enough children to make it profitable. Subscribers paid a fee for each child’s education.

Snapshot of Pages 104-105 "Schools and Education"
Snapshot of Pages 104-105 “Schools and Education”

French has written another atlas on Prince Edward County as well. (Link to a review on my old blog) and wrote me in a letter that he is working on a “geology/nature” book of the Simcoe County area.  “That’s the Barrie-Midland area north of Toronto and is my ‘homeland,'” he wrote.

No doubt Orland French will be busy travelling the province of Ontario in any case and if he produces anything like the Heritage Atlas of Hastings County and the atlas of Lennox & Addington, it will be a delight to read.


Link to Wallbridge House Publishing




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