I have the stones
but not the bones
of my ancestors –
beneath the dammed lake;
to higher ground.
Of my ancestors
all I have are lies –
carved in stone;
but not their bones.
Norm SD Esdon
© 1991 Norm Esdon (used with permission)
Norm Esdon Interview Audio Excerpts, Glenburnie, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013
Norm Esdon reads his poem ‘Heritage Lost'
Seaway owes its existence to the river, but does not recognize its debt
Remembers driving along the highway with his grandparents and memorizing the points along the way.
About progress with a capital P and groundhogs with a capital G.
Video Excerpt: Norm Esdon Interview, Elginburg, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013
In this video Norm Esdon reads his poem, Heritage Lost, in his kitchen in Glenburnie, Ontario.
The emotional impact of the destruction wreaked by the Seaway moved him to write his first serious poem Memories of a Drowned Land in 1959. He writes, "I have kept my handwritten original all these years because it came out of the raw emotion I was feeling at the time. Everyone around me was celebrating “Progress”; I was writing, Memories of a Drowned Land. I remember trying to be more positive, to see a silver lining, so I added the last two stanzas. In a way they sell out what I was really feeling, as expressed in all the other stanzas.
Thirty-two years later he revisited that first poem and wrote another, Heritage Lost, in which he "didn’t sell out."
Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Norm Esdon’s grandparents had a dry goods store in Farran’s Point. His mother was born near Wales. He had his first “public” haircut in the barber shop in Aultsville.
Before the Seaway went through his father used to drive the family along Hwy #2 to show them what was going to disappear including Long Sault Rapids and Aultsville after all the trees were cut down, all the hydro/telephone poles taken down, all the buildings moved or levelled.
He writes that, "my father took us to Aultsville where we walked the sidewalk from east to west, a sidewalk that no longer had anything to connect, which began nowhere and went nowhere. I remember feeling devastated. With all the bricks and rubble of the demolished buildings, the village looked as though it had been bombed. And the trees! All gone. Nothing left but their wide and ancient stumps. It felt eery, as though all the joys and sorrows and everyday actions of the people who had lived there were still floating in the air, air that vibrated with the tearing and smashing which had eliminated everything I had known."
Norm now lives in Glenburnie, Ontario.