March 23, 2023 (10am to 12 noon)
Born into Swedish aristocracy, Louise de Kiriline Lawrence turned her back on privilege, and as a Red Cross nurse, followed her White Russian husband into the Russian Civil War and a Bolshevik prison. When her husband disappeared, she emigrated to Canada, where she became nurse-in-charge of the world-famous Dionne Quintuplets. After a year, she escaped Quintmania, building a log cabin in the wilderness, where she discovered birds, the life history of many a mystery at the time. Self-trained in the art of bird science, she published ground-breaking studies and wrote six books and scores of magazine stories, tracking the decline of songbirds in the 1940s and 50s and linking it to toxic spraying a decade before Rachel Carson. Louise died 30 years ago this spring, scarcely known in Canada, though for 50 years, international ornithologists beat a path to her "loghouse nest” in northern Ontario. Through stories and pictures, Simonds brings this remarkable, inspiring woman to life.
Merilyn Simonds is the internationally published author of 20 books, including the novel The Holding, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and the Canadian classic nonfiction novel, The Convict Lover, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Among her best-selling nonfiction is A New Leaf, the story of her gardens north of Kingston, and Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, a meditation on reading, writing, and the future of the printed book. Her most recent work—Woman,Watching (2022)—is an innovative memoir/biography of Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, an extraordinary recluse who changed the way we see birds