Causeway: A Passage from Innocence.
Contains Photos, Maps
Randall White is the author of Voice of Region: On the Long Journey to
Senate Reform in Canada, Too Good to Be True: Toronto in the 1920s, and
Global Spin: Probing the Globalization Debate.
Linden MacIntyre is as competent a writer as he is a TV host and interviewer. He is a long-time Toronto resident, but this autobiography shows he is very much tied to his childhood surroundings in Port Hastings, and how it was irrevocably changed with the construction of the causeway linking Cape Breton to the Nova Scotia mainland. It is also and perhaps especially a tender reminiscence of his relationship with his taciturn father, whose hard-rock mining jobs away from home during the author’s growing-up years created a gulf between father and son that remained even after Dan Rory finally came back in 1954 to drive a truck during the causeway’s construction. Although he was born in Newfoundland while his father worked in a mine, young Linden rapidly absorbed Cape Breton’s Gaelic and clan culture when the MacIntyres moved to Port Hastings when he was four. Despite his tendency to ignore a chronological approach—the story begins in 1968 during Linden’s last visit home from his journalist’s job in Ottawa—the main section of nearly 300 pages deals with the turmoil and excitement in the two or three years leading up to the official opening of the causeway—the most influential event and years of young Linden’s life. He was 12 when the huge project was finally completed and his sometimes rambling account contains some very moving descriptions of his school years, his chums, and above all his views of the world of his parents and their extended family—a view often seen and heard from the hole in the floor of his bedroom, directly above the kitchen table around which the adults gathered to talk. It was often about politics—the MacIntyres were avowed Tories and, like so many Cape Bretoners, Roman Catholic, as was the popular Grit premier Angus L. MacDonald, who “even speaks perfect Gaelic.”
This is a story of how the MacIntyre family and their neighbours were impacted by the causeway, which alas did not bring the expected prosperity but instead facilitated the exodus of islanders, especially the young like Linden. It’s a tale all too familiar to those who like the author grew up in simpler but constantly changing times. This poignant account is a valuable addition to Maritime and especially Cape Breton social history.