Norm Esdon

Norm Esdon was raised in Cornwall, Ontario and was 14 years when he saw the flood waters rising and animals fleeing





Heritage Lost

I have the stones
but not the bones
of my ancestors –

     their bones:
     concrete-slabbed beneath
     the dammed lake;
     their stones:
     transplanted north
     to higher ground.

Of my ancestors
all I have are lies –

     here-lies
     carved in stone;
     their stones
     but not their bones.

1991-08-29
Norm SD Esdon


© 1991 Norm Esdon (used with permission)


Norm Esdon

Norm Esdon was raised in Cornwall, Ontario and remembers being taken by his parents to see the flood waters rising.





Heritage Lost

I have the stones
but not the bones
of my ancestors –

     their bones:
     concrete-slabbed beneath
     the dammed lake;
     their stones:
     transplanted north
     to higher ground.

Of my ancestors
all I have are lies –

     here-lies
     carved in stone;
     their stones
     but not their bones.

1991-08-29
Norm SD Esdon

© 1991 Norm Esdon (used with permission)



Video Interview



Video Excerpt: Norm Esdon Interview, Elginburg, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013

Video Interview



Video Excerpt: Norm Esdon Interview, Elginburg, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013

Video Interview



Video Excerpt: Norm Esdon Interview, Elginburg, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013

Video Interview



Video Excerpt: Norm Esdon Interview, Elginburg, Ontario, Canada. August 23, 2013

Summary

In this video Norm Esdon reads his poem, Heritage Lost, in his living room 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 1958. 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."


Bio

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 Elginburg, Ontario.

Summary

In this video Norm Esdon reads his poem, Heritage Lost, in his living room in Elginburg, 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 1958. 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."

Bio

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."



The Sunken Villages interviews give voice, sometimes for the first time, to the memories, emotions, experiences and reflections about what happened when the construction of the Seaway flooded the St Lawrence Valley. These first person accounts are reviving a history that has been officially ignored and largely forgotten.

July 1, 1958 is remembered as Inundation Day around Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, NY. At 08:00 a controlled explosion tore open a cofferdam. Four days later an area that had been home to 7,500 people disappeared under the waves of Lake St. Lawrence, part of the newly created St. Lawrence Seaway.

On the Canadian side, 12 communities, some dating back to the 1700s, were affected. Maple Grove, Mille Roches, Moulinette, Sheeks Island, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point and Aultsville were entirely destroyed. Iroquis was demolished and moved a mile to continue on in name. About half of Morrisburg – including its waterfront and most of its business district and main street – were levelled.

On the American side, in St Lawrence County in upstate New York, Croil's Island, Louisville Landing, and Richards Landing ceased to exist, and parts of Waddington were dismantled.

The Sunken Villages interviews give voice, sometimes for the first time, to the memories, emotions, experiences and reflections about what happened when the construction of the Seaway flooded the St Lawrence Valley. These first person accounts are reviving a history that has been officially ignored and largely forgotten.

July 1, 1958 is remembered as Inundation Day around Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, NY. At 08:00 a controlled explosion tore open a cofferdam. Four days later an area that had been home to 7,500 people disappeared under the waves of Lake St. Lawrence, part of the newly created St. Lawrence Seaway.

On the Canadian side, 12 communities, some dating back to the 1700s, were affected. Maple Grove, Mille Roches, Moulinette, Sheeks Island, Wales, Dickinson’s Landing, Farran’s Point and Aultsville were entirely destroyed. Iroquis was demolished and moved a mile to continue on in name. About half of Morrisburg – including its waterfront and most of its business district and main street – were levelled.

On the American side, in St Lawrence County in upstate New York, Croil's Island, Louisville Landing, and Richards Landing ceased to exist, and parts of Waddington were dismantled.