Photos and story by Terry Duffy
This past Wednesday, a group of authors representing communities from both sides of the border gathered in Youngstown to announce draft release of a new book, "From the Mouth of the Lower Niagara River, A Story From Four Historic Communities."
Youngstown author Gretchen A. Duling, Ph.D., with her husband Dennis C. Duling, Ph.D., professor emeritus, retired from Canisius College, collaborated with seven named authors, plus others unnamed from both sides of the lower Niagara to produce this work. It's a selection of independent writings done in honor of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The work commemorates the 200 years of peace that has existed since between the two countries, told in the words of its authors. "Each community has had so many people who assisted," says Gretchen, adding, "There are nine principal authors and other contributing authors mentioned in the book."
The writers hail from Lewiston, Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Youngstown. She calls the combined work a grassroots effort.
"We're setting a good binational example, beyond fair trade," Gretchen adds. "And they have not read each other's sections, I wanted no competition."
Focusing on the commonalities yet distinct differences of the authors, she continued, "I tried to be very binational; some of the intro parts are written by our friends in Canada, some without names, because as one said, 'We speak in one voice.' "
In addition to the Dulings, the named authors include Teresa Sharp Donaldson, Linda Fritz, Toby Jewett, Michelle Kratts, Karen Noonan, Jim Reynolds and Jim Smith. Other contributors are unnamed.
"Our writing became standardized," says Gretchen, noting the editing work of her husband Dennis. "But the vocabulary is binational. They speak the same language, but they pronounce it differently.
"We've been working on it for four years. It's just been amazing; they're wonderful writers."
District 1 Niagara County Legislator Clyde Burmaster of Ransomville was on hand to present the group, which has been working under the auspices of the Historical Association of Lewiston, a $29,000 check to assist it in its efforts. The funding had been provided by the Niagara River Greenway Commission to the Legislature for purposes of promoting the 1812 bicentennial celebration. "I feel this is a fitting tribute to how two countries can actually work together, when all disagreements are settled and the lasting peace that has come from all the sacrifices made here in 1812," said Burmaster.
"To have nine authors get together and speak and come up with one product - this is certainly a testimonial."
At 170 pages, the book will retail for $19.95. It's expected to be released next month to coincide with upcoming War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations; stay tuned for book signing event information.