On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan


290 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-670-87388-8
DDC 364.15'36




Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


South Mountain is an idyllic setting overlooking the Annapolis Valley,
where people began to settle in the late 18th century. From the early
settlers emerged some 30 family groupings that lived in small shacks,
often with no plumbing and little electricity. These family clans pretty
much stuck to themselves over the years and were shunned by the
churchgoing inhabitants of the valley. Time and time again, children
from the mountain who reported the goings-on at home were ignored by
local authorities—doctors, social workers, teachers, church and police
officials. Often, children in distress were returned against their will
to their troubled homes.

Things changed in January 1984 when 14-year-old Sandra Groler told her
teacher that her father had been “doing her.” Sandra’s principal
reported her case to Family and Children’s Services in Kentville, and
for once a social worker listened. From that one incident arose the
monstrous story that is recounted in this book. Bestiality, incest,
sodomy, psychological abuse, neglect—all graphically portrayed through
court transcripts. And there’s a horrifying postscript: William
Groler, the main perpetrator and one of 16 men and women who were jailed
after trial later got out and upon his release reoffended.

This meticulously researched and well-written book is not for the


Cruise, David, and Alison Griffiths., “On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/2522.