Harrison succesfully defends On Foot to Canterbury

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

The annual County Reads debate was held on Thursday.

Although we were optimistic it might be possible to celebrate in person, it changed to an online-only event due to the rising COVID-19 counts in our area. Thanks to our amazing participants: Leigh Nash, Thomas Harrison, Penny Morris, Michelle Murray and Ryan Aldred for adapting to the change – each presented a passionate defense of their chosen book. Ken Murray was, as always, a terrific moderator!

The County Reads and the Authors Festival couldn’t happen without the volunteer committee members who make it possible – Alexandra Bake, Marlene Fraser and Janet Aston. Leigh Nash defended Days by Moonlight by Andre Alexis, Penny Morris defended Blaze Island by Catherine Bush, Michelle Murray defended The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley, Thomas Harrison defended On Foot to Canterbury by Ken Haugh and Ryan Aldred defended The Naked Don’t Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins.

Each of these books are available at the library and at Books & Co in Picton. Each presentation was entertaining, thought-provoking and enthusiastic, and any one of the defenders could have been victorious. The audience took on the challenging role of selecting one winner.

While the audience was casting their votes, a time-lapse video of the Picton Branch Library construction played before an update from expansion fundraising committee chair Alexandra Bake.

After intermission, moderator Ken Murray revealed that Thomas Harrison’s presentation of On Foot to Canterbury won the vote. As the publisher describes the book, “Setting off on foot from Winchester, Ken Haigh hikes across southern England, retracing one of the traditional routes that medieval pilgrims followed to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

Walking in honour of his father, a staunch Anglican who passed away before they could begin their trip together, Haigh wonders: Is there a place in the modern secular world for pilgrimage? On his journey, he sorts through his own spiritual aimlessness while crossing paths with writers like Anthony Trollope, John Keats, Jane Austen, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, and, of course, Geoffrey Chaucer. “ Thomas’ presentation was in partly a poem, partly a passionate description of why this book is important to read, and all around entertaining.

The recorded event will be available on the library Youtube channel (peclibrary.org/youtube) if you missed it or want to re-watch all of the presentations.

UPCOMING ONLINE AUTHOR TALKS: Maude Barlow in conversation with Jane Lesslie: May 12 at 2 p.m. Thanks to the financial assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts through the Writers’ Union of Canada. Barlow’s new book, Still Hopeful, is a reflection on her many years of activism. ed. Register at peclibrary.org or call (613) 476-5962 to reserve your space. If you need assistance getting online, call us in advance and we’ll help you.

-Liz Zylstra