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New book features 100 tales of Sarnia history

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Local author and historian Phil Egan has released his latest book, featuring 100 stories about Sarnia’s rich and memorable history.

“Backward Glances: Historic Tales from the Imperial City,” is comprised of short tales chronicling Sarnia’s past, as they appeared in The Sarnia Journal over the course of eight years.

“Some of my most popular stories are in this book,” said Egan, editor-in-chief of the Sarnia Historical Society and regular contributor to The Journal.

Stories like “Wax man’s plea to ‘dig me up in 50 years’ remains unfulfilled,” chronicling one of Sarnia-Lambton’s strangest burials; and “The strange tale of the Imperial Oil furnace jumper,” are among his most well-read works, he said, adding that he likes to throw in a few personal stories as well.

“Initiating the rent-a-mom and duping Mrs. Dupe,” recounts the hilarious tricks the Egan kids played on the nanny while their parents went on vacation.

Other notable tales chronicle the life and death of Norm Perry — one of Canada’s most celebrated football greats who went on to become Sarnia’s mayor; the massive 1867 blaze that destroyed much of downtown Sarnia’s business core; and how a Sarnia Journal story about Corunna helped inspire a new book by a Spanish author.

And there’s plenty more where they came from.

“I’d like to put out a new book every summer,” Egan said, pointing to a total of 300 stories written for and published in The Journal. “So, this will hopefully be the first of three books.”

Egan, who helped revitalize the Sarnia Historical Society back in 2015 along with director and past president Ron Realesmith, also penned the books, “Keeping the Peace:160 Years of Policing in the Imperial City” and “Walking through Fire: The History of Sarnia’s Bravest.”

He credits the popularity of local history to other storytellers like Tom St. Amand and Tom Slater.

“I always took the view that Tom Slater started a historical renaissance in this town when he launched the War Remembrance Project,” Egan said of the comprehensive record of the “ordinary” men and women who left their jobs, schools, farms and loved ones to fight for Canada’s freedom in conflicts around the world.

“There’s just so much interest in local history, now.”

For more on Backward Glances: Historical Tales from the Imperial City, visit sarniahistoricalsociety.com or The Book Keeper in Sarnia. Copies of the book are $24.95, with proceeds to the Sarnia Historical Society.

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