Wednesday, August 03, 2011

45. Memoirs of a Lighthouse Keeper's Son by Billy Budge

This book was published locally in the Maritimes.  I learned about it thanks to the recommendation of the good innkeepers of the excellent Four Mile Beach Inn at the north end of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.  It's a region of Canada that has a lot of history and they are quite proud of it.  I was happy to find this book in one of the little road side stops and to learn that there is a small but going press that produces a lot of interesting books from and about the Maritimes.  

This is the story of Billy Budge, whose father got a job being the lighthouse keeper in lonely St. Paul's island, a rock off the northern tip of Nova Scotia that was known (and still is today) as the Graveyard  of the Gulf.  It's a short, directly told and quite engaging tale.  The family (Billy was 5 at the start, his little sister, their mom and their Newfoundland, King) stayed there for 5 years and had many interesting and challenging interactions with the tough environment as well as the isolation.  It's a great read, very positive but also realistic.  It's one of those books that reminds you that life can be really rich and fulfilling without a lot of stuff and society as long as you have a purpose and interesting things to do. 

What I found a bit surprising is that the challenge for the author was not going out to the island and being separated for everybody.  His real difficulty came when he had to return 5 years later and go to school.  Either it was because of his age during his time on the island or his personal make-up, but he really preferred the loneliness and difficulty of his life on St. Paul to the crowded world of the mainland and it took him some time to re-adjust. 

Check out St. Paul's Island:

View Larger Map

No comments: