Book Review: Iron Bars and Bookshelves ISBN 9781771860802

Book Review: Iron Bars and Bookshelves ISBN 9781771860802

LiQM_Mar2017_CoverThis book review first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.

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Title: Iron Bars and Bookshelves – A History of the Morrin Centre
Author: Louisa Blair, Patrick Donovan, Donald Fyson
ISBN: 9781771860802
Price: $34.95
Publisher: Baraka Books

Review by Mark Lindenberg

The authors trace the history of a Vieux-Québec landmark in three sections: Fyson addresses the Centre’s beginnings as a jail in the early 19th century, Donovan covers its subsequent history as a college and Blair concludes with the story of the Literary and Historical Society of Québec (LHSQ). Each author successfully ties the building’s history to its occupants.

Fyson describes prisons and punishment in Québec before and during the period when the jail was used. Through the eyes of François Baillargé and Édouard Dumas we learn about prison conditions.

Donovan places the Morrin Centre within the context of education and religion in Lower Canada in the 19th century. He tells the story of Joseph Morrin’s questionable integrity and final bequest establishing the college, and details the institution’s eventual move to the former prison building.

Blair brings to life those who developed and shepherded the LHSQ from its beginnings. The contributions of women, such as botanists Anne Perceval and Christian Broun, are also highlighted. Blair also documents the struggle to maintain the Centre’s English-language library, where the anglophones and anglophiles of Québec City gather to this day.

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About Author

Mark Lindenberg

Mark Lindenberg's essays have appeared in The Globe and Mail and Maclean's Magazine, among other publications. In a career spanning 15 years, three provinces, and two official languages, he has written, edited, and translated work on a wide variety of topics for employers and clients alike. Mark lives in Quebec City with his wife and two cats.

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