Poor Farm

A Novel About Autism in Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia

Beyond Documentary

UPDATE: Click here for my interview with Portia Clark on CBC radio’s Information Morning.

Learningo is a non-profit society dedicated to helping people with Autism become active members of their company. I am honoured to have been recently made vice-chair of the board. As part of Autism Awareness month, we are excited to show you an amazing documentary called Beyond. The movie covers the challenges faced by a single mother, Tamara Mark, to two non-verbal adults, Ian and Harry. The movie will be shown on April 30th, 1pm at the Woodlawn Library Auditorium.

Read more

Less Than Innocent

Excerpt from Cover of Atlantic Books Today [Fall 2022 Edition]

I was delighted to be asked to discuss a forthcoming Moose House Press book, Less Than Innocent, with fellow Nova Scotia author Carol Anne Cole. Moose House is the publisher of Poor Farm. In this new novel, nineteen Nova Scotia authors (myself included) collaborated on each writing a chapter set during the lockdown of 2020. The only rules were you only had a week to read the previous chapter and could not reverse the ongoing story. The whole project was a lot of fun and a very interesting spur to creativity. The book will be available from Moose House soon.

Read more

A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses in Nova Scotia 2nd Edition

A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses in Nova Scotia by Brenda Thompson

I was thrilled when Brenda Thompson asked me to contribute a foreword to her second edition of A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses in Nova Scotia published by SSP Publications. I have known Brenda for a number of years now and her research and support were critical to Poor Farm. Check out the latest edition for a much expanded take on this neglected area of Nova Scotia history, and see below for my full foreword.

Read more

Ned Beales

Ned Beales [Courtesy Nova Scotia Archives]

In the course of researching Poor Farm, I came across the fascinating story of Ned Beals. He was from nineteenth century Preston, still today one of the largest African-Nova Scotian communities in the province. Although my novel is primarily concerned with the plight of an autistic young man in a poor farm, it does touch on the history of others like Ned Beals, many of whom were unfairly incarcerated in these institutions. Stewart, the main character, and Ned connect through popular songs. Ned is one of the few inmates who genuinely empathizes with Stewart, to the point where Stewart copies him by covering his mouth, an unconscious gesture the historical Ned used to make to cover a deformity there.

Read more

Books For The Holiday Season

Atlantic Books Historical Stories Section

Atlantic Books are dedicated to helping readers in Atlantic Canada discover books written and published in their region. They release high quality magazines and guides, including their Holiday Gifts Guide. I was delighted to see Poor Farm featured in the Historical Stories Section. They say the best gift you can give someone is a novel experience. What better gift is there than the transformation of your surroundings offered by a book?