Tall trees and tall tales – that’s life in the bush. And Brent Connelly wouldn’t have it any other way.
A forester for nearly forty years, Brent was never happier than when in the company of loggers and truck drivers, timber cruisers and cookees – especially when the “office” was his beloved Algonquin Park. And after a long, hard day nurturing and harvesting the forest, what better way to spend the evening than back at the bunkhouse with a mug of tea, a piece of warm raisin pie, and a session of storytelling.
For four decades, he “commuted” to work in a mud-caked pickup, toting a lunch pail often filled with thick meat loaf sandwiches, homemade dill pickles and butter tarts as large as soup bowls. A thermos filled with piping-hot coffee would sit precariously on top of the dash, to help perk him up during the long trip into the bush. The trees were his “office,” a bush jacket and work boots his “suit.” His colleagues were as open and resilient as land they sought to harvest.
Brent Connelly draws on this legacy and spins for our enjoyment a seamless collection of logging tales populated by many well-known characters from Algonquin Park’s recent logging past, including Jack McRae, Duncan MacGregor, Johnnie Shaw, Walter Dombroski, Joe Bird and Ray Townsend. As nationally acclaimed journalist and author Roy MacGregor, whose roots and heart are also in Algonquin Park, observes “Brent Connelly’s Holy Old Whistlin’ is like a time machine for me, winging me back to a precious world that has largely vanished today. His prodigious memory and eye for detail bring so many people, including many of my own relatives, and their stories back to like that this is a book all who love the Valley will treasure”.