Review of Cantwells’ Way in Atlantic Books Today

Cantwells’ Way
A Natural History of the Cape Spear Lightstation

By James E. Candow  

When history meets exposition, the product can illuminating, even enlightening. When it meets storytelling, it’s magic. Cantwells’ Way easily conjures the latter in this author’s deft hands. In this taut, tremendously well-told story, we learn about the certainties, foibles, and achievements of one of the great light-keeping families of Canada, who for generations, faithfully occupied the beacon at Cape Spear, NL. This was no mean feat. But what makes this book special is the attention it pays to the technology of lightstation design (rare in this tiny sub-genre of historiography) combined with the remarkable attention to the details of quotidian existence enjoyed (and, perhaps, endured) by those who embraced the lives they led. In the end, Cantwells’ Way is a magisterial tale, well told, about the uneasy relationship between modernity and tradition. In this age of vanishing youth and perishing economic expectations, it belongs on the bookshelves of every sentient Atlantic Canadian.

— Alec Bruce, Atlantic Books Today

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