Shakespeare gets a new home town – May 1, 1953 article about Stratford from Macleans archive

A May 1, 1953 Macleans article is entitled: “Shakespeare gets a new home town.”

An excerpt reads:

THE NINETEEN thousand residents of Stratford in southern Ontario have for years taken a somewhat cavalier attitude toward tourists. Stratford is on a main tourist route from eastern Canada to Lake Huron. It has a park system unique in North America. But until last year not even a sign pointed this up. If the tourists wanted to stop, fine. If they didn’t, okay. It just wouldn’t be in character for the people of Stratford to coax strangers to stop and spend their money.

The tourists have repaid Stratford in kind. They have roared past the east-end cluster of factories, glided down an avenue of tree-shaded homes, slowed down for a wide drab main street, swung sharply right at the medieval-looking courthouse, swooped across an old stone bridge, and left Stratford behind without really seeing it.

This July, things are going to be different. Stratford and a large chunk of Canada’s tourist trade are finally going to meet face to face. The gentleman who will bring them together is Shakespeare.

[End of excerpt]

The year 1952

Another year (aside from 1953) comes to mind, namely the year 1952.

That’s the year when Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loundun was published.

I’m currently reading this nonfiction study based on events in the 1600s. This is among the finest piece of history writing that I have encountered to date, since I embarked in 2011 upon an intensive reading of history, after catching the local history bug in the Toronto neighbourhood where I used to live.

There are aspects of Huxley’s writing that are, alas, characteristic of his era such as his stereotypical, racism-tinged comments about the world’s Indigenous peoples, but by way of having the ability to hold a reader’s attention, he is highly skilled. Huxley can carry on for pages of explanatory (even hugely detailed and digressive) scene-setting background narratives related to 1500s and 1600s European witch-hunts, yet at the same time connect all such texts to his central theme (the details of a particular witch-hunt case), while keeping the reader pleased to keep on reading. That is impressive writing.

First-rate writers apply a range of techniques to maintain the close attention of the reader. Whatever it is that Huxley applies, by way of a technique, works well. With exceptions such as I have referred to at the previous paragraph, he is a brilliant writer. Although he passed away in 1963, his writing (with some exceptions, as noted previously and below) is well worth a read even now.

With regard to comments – by Huxley and like-minded writers – regarding the world’s Indigenous peoples I have at times been pondering a remark that I encountered on Twitter some time back. The remark was along the lines of: If you want to know what the world would have been like had the Nazis won the war, consider closely what has happened to Indigenous peoples during, and as a consequence of, imperial projects.