Edited by Stuart Kinney & Ross Kinney
Illustrations by Michael McEwing
From his vantage point in the historic hamlet of Upper Woodstock, Ken Homer cast a curious gaze on the natural world around him and the rich heritage of the area. His observations inspired captivating essays that he broadcast throughout the Maritimes on CBC Radio. In Walks With A Three-Legged Cat, a selection of Homer’s essays from the 1970s and ’80s are available in print for the first time.
In these essays, Homer curates the treasures of our shared history and unearths our cultural values. He does so in friendly and imaginative language, reflecting his own humour, grace, and humility, while reaffirming the power of the written word.
Illustrated by Michael McEwing and including a moving portrait of the author by his son, Stephen, Walks With A Three-Legged Cat demonstrates Homer’s skill as an essayist and cements his vital legacy within the history of the St. John River Valley.
Ken Homer (1915-2003) was a graduate of Mount Allison University where he taught English before becoming a CBC broadcast journalist based in Halifax. He became well known for his feature stories, his interviews, and especially for his sensitive reporting of the 1958 Springhill Mine Disaster.
He married Dees Clarke, daughter of author, George Frederick Clarke, and lived the rest of his life in Upper Woodstock and Woodstock NB. He continued to do freelance work for CBC and began recording and broadcasting his radio essays.
He later taught history and social studies at the Woodstock High School and is remembered by many students as a great teacher. He was a founder and first president of the Carleton County Historical Society and published a book on the history of the Carleton County Council. He was a friend of Wolastoqey elder, Peter Paul, and worked with him on preserving Indigenous cultural heritage. Ken Homer is especially remembered for his interest in the natural history and cultural life of the St. John River Valley and his dedication to celebrating and preserving the region’s heritage.
Stuart Kinney studied history with Ken Homer at Woodstock High School in the mid-1970s. Later, he was among those who enjoyed listening to Homer’s weekly radio essays, especially because Stuart had his own three-legged cat.
These encounters left Stuart with an indelible impression concerning Homer’s boundless reserves of curious energy and humble grace, and fostered a deep appreciation of his teacher’s regard for the natural world and his engagement in his community.
Ross Kinney became familiar with Ken Homer when this project began taking shape in 2017. In a testament to Homer’s ability as a writer and storyteller, Ross felt an immediate connection upon reading and hearing these essays. The opportunity to help publish this collection could not be missed
Both Stuart and Ross share Homer’s interest in history and literature, and especially in the cultural heritage of western New Brunswick.
This kinship, founded on a common bond to Carleton County and the Wolastoq(St. John River) Valley, grew stronger as this book developed.
Michael McEwing was commissioned to create the original artwork for the cover and the images for the four title pages which divide the book into seasons.
Like Homer, McEwing is a passionate observer of the natural world. His most recent project, “Conservation on Canvas,” an exhibit which toured the province in 2017-18, is a series of large oil paintings depicting features of the preserved areas established by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick.
The wood block print on the cover, featuring a “Homeresque” figure, allows us to observe the observer, drawing us into his activity, and heightening our regard for the natural world. The illustrations inside highlight the delicacy and beauty of that world as it presents itself to us throughout the annual cycle of the seasons, and depict those things that Homer saw and described so aptly for us in his own art form.
Michael McEwing is an art educator with the Anglophone West School District who resides in Woodstock, NB.
2019 • Paperback • 244 pages • $25(CAD), $20(USD) • ISBN 978-1-988299-26-6 • Published 2019/10/29