QUEENS PARK, TORONTO: This week in the Ontario Legislature, Norman Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka paid tribute to the life and work of Parry Sound historian John Macfie.
Mr. Norman Miller: I rise in the House today to recognize the life of John Macfie, a passionate historian from Dunchurch in the Parry Sound area, who, sadly, passed away on October 26 at age 93.
John is best known for his dedication to writing about colonization and the history of forestry and logging in Ontario. As it happens, I have one of his books here in Toronto, in which he recorded the stories of the people who worked in logging camps and steam-powered mills in the 1800s and early 1900s. These stories would have been lost to the annals of history, but because of John’s efforts, their stories live on so that we can read what life was like for the people who helped build this country.
John’s love of history started quite young, listening enthralled as old-timers yarned about their adventures. In his wisdom, he began to collect the stories and photographs. He went on to write 13 books and more than 1,000 newspaper and magazine articles.
Though he is most known for his work as a historian, his own life was one well worth recording. He was trained as a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He dabbled in meteorology and weather mapping before ending up at the Department of Lands and Forests. He worked in Sioux Lookout as a trap management officer, and spent a decade in the woods engaging with Indigenous trappers between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay. Eventually, he ended up as fish and wildlife supervisor in Parry Sound.
Though I cannot do justice to John’s life in the time allowed, I feel it’s important to recognize him here and thank him for his efforts to preserve the stories that would otherwise have been lost.