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Press Release:
For immediate release, June 12, 2003

 

Wolfe Island, Ont., celebrates
heritage as birthplace of
Canadian crime writing

It's no mystery why Wolfe Island's Scene of the Crime Festival has been such a success. The combination of local history, some of Canada's top mystery writers, and home-made pie is hard to beat.

"We've got a lot to offer," says festival organizer Maureen Lollar. "Wolfe Island is the historic birthplace of Canadian crime writing, we've invited top writers to our beautiful setting, and we cap it off with old-fashioned Island hospitality."

Last year's inaugural event was an unqualified success, drawing people from across south-eastern Ontario and northern New York, and organizers are expanding on this year's line-up.

"We had a sell-out crowd at our first Scene Of The Crime and they told us they want to know more about crime writing in Canada," says Lollar. "They want to know about its history and to meet authors and learn about writing."

That fits perfectly with the festival's goal of celebrating Wolfe Island's heritage as the birthplace of Canada's first crime writer, Grant Allen. Born on the Island in the mid-19th century and the first Canadian to write crime fiction, Allen invented one of the most popular plot conceits of the genre, the thief who is actually the hero of the story. He was also a good friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

Set for Saturday, Aug. 23, 2003, on land Allen's family donated to the Island around the time of his birth, this year's Scene Of The Crime includes:

  • A public lecture on Grant Allen by the noted literary historian and bibliographer David Skene-Melvin;
  • A writers' workshop and literary lunch with published authors;
  • A panel discussion of the Canadian crime writing scene;
  • A short story contest for budding crime writers;
  • Author book signings.

Among the authors expected at this year's event are:

  • Rick Mofina, an Arthur Ellis award-winning author whose fourth psychological thriller, No Way Back, is being released in June of 2003;
  • Peter Sellers, a nationally known short story writer and editor, was last year's winner of the Ellery Queen Reader's Choice Award.
  • Lou Allin, nominated for this year's Arthur Ellis Award for best novel, whose next book, Bush Poodles Are Murder, will appear this fall.
  • Jake Doherty, former Kingston Whig-Standard publisher, is the author of The Rankin Files, a crime novel where the action criss-crosses Ontario.

The festival will also continue its popular old-fashioned church supper, where some of Canada's top crime writers join festival-goers at the dinner table for a home-cooked meal, home-made pie, and readings by professional crime writers and local celebrities. There will be an open mike for budding writers who wish to pen their own opening paragraphs to a mystery story set on Wolfe Island.

It's all done with a home-style flare that emphasizes the small-town feel of Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands and home to 1,300 full-time inhabitants. Festival events take place in the Island village of Marysville, and are all within walking distance of the free ferry from Kingston, Ont.