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MacDonald, Jake (M.) 1949-

MacDONALD, Jake (M.) 1949-

PERSONAL: Born April 6, 1949, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; son of Donald Ian (in civic politics) and Peggy Christine (a homemaker; maiden name, Monahan) MacDonald; married Carolyn MacKinnon (a nurse), June 18, 1983 (divorced); children: Caitlin Peggy-Jean. Education: University of Manitoba, B.A., 1971. Religion: Roman Catholic ("lapsed").


ADDRESSES: Home—778 McMillan Ave., No. 12A, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3M OV3, Canada. Agent—Sarah Parker and Associates, 108 Withrow, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]


CAREER: Freelance writer. Fishing guide in northern Ontario, Canada, summers, beginning 1969. Manitoba Writers Guild, instructor in Mentor Program, 1986-90.


MEMBER: Writers Union of Canada, Manitoba Writers Guild, Ducks Unlimited.


AWARDS, HONORS: Four Gold Awards, Western Magazine Awards, 1989, 1990, 1991 (all best nonfiction article category), and 1992; Greg Clark Award, best outdoor article in Canada, 1990; Outdoor Writers of Canada Awards, best outdoor article, 1992, feature story of the year, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2000, column writing award, 2000; Canadian National Magazine Award, for journalism, 1996, 1999, and for travel writing, 2000.


WRITINGS:

Indian River (novel), Queenston House (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1981, 2nd edition, 1987.

The Bridge Out of Town (short stories), Oberon Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1986, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1990.

Two Tickets to Paradise (short stories), Oberon Press (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 1990.

Raised by the River (novel), Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1992.

Lakes, Lures, and Lodges: A Fishing Guide to Western Canada, Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1993.

Juliana and the Medicine Fish (young adult novel), Great Plains Publications (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1997.

(With Shirley Sandrel) Faces of the Flood: Manitoba's Courageous Battle against the Red River, photographs by Tom Thomson, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

(Editor) The Lake: An Illustrated History of Manitobans' Cottage Country, photographs by Tom Thomson and Dave Reede, Great Plains Publications (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 2000.

Houseboat Chronicles: Notes from a Life in Shield Country (memoir), McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.


Also author of Stonehouse; author of videotape scripts, including Who Is Responsible? and The People We Are; author of dramatic scripts for National Historic Sites. Short stories represented in anthologies, including Manitoba Stories, Queenston House (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1981; West of Fiction, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1984; Made in Manitoba, Turnstone Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1990; Flying Colours, Thunder Books, 1992; and Due West, Coteau Books (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1995. Contributor of fiction and articles to periodicals, including Field and Stream, Canadian Geographic, Descant, Heartland, NeWest Review, Big Fin, Winnipeg, Arts Manitoba, Prairie Fire, and Western Living. Short stories have also been broadcast by CBC-Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).



RADIO PLAYS

Becoming, CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1982.

The Man from the Boy, CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1983.

Men Who Say No, CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1984.

The Highway Is for Gamblers, CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1985.

The Longest Night of the Year, CBC (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1986.

Tax Dodge Lodge, Real Special Productions, 1986.


Other radio plays include Starting All Over Again, CBC (Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada), and The Witch of Beacon Hill, CBC (Morningside, Alberta, Canada); also author of scripts for dramatic readings.


ADAPTATIONS: Some of MacDonald's radio scripts have been adapted for the stage.


SIDELIGHTS: Jake MacDonald's The Bridge Out of Town is a collection of eleven short stories connected by recurring characters and places, with the small northern Ontario fishing village of Keewuttunnee their shared setting. "The name [of the town] means 'dead end,' and few characters manage to take the bridge out of town unless they are tourists going home," wrote Antanas Sileika in the Toronto Globe and Mail. "The squalor of the town limits their potential for love and redemption; victories are small and accidental death is easy to come by." Still, despite the gritty surroundings, MacDonald offers "a good variety of well-defined characters, all of them likeable," related Winnipeg Free Press critic David Williamson, who added, "linear in development . . . presented in a clear, straightforward style," the stories show how "a good plot and some fascinating characters can still provide a rewarding reading experience." "There is a lack of pretension about MacDonald's work that keeps it both entertaining and meaningful," observed John Danakas in a review for the Winnipeg Sun. "He deals with real people in real situations, with compassion, humour, and perceptiveness."

Williamson commented that, in these days of literary "post-modernism and deconstructionism and dirty realism," it is a bold writer who deals with plots and people, creating the kind of stories the public likes to read. In MacDonald's case—Sileika regretted—this talent is attended by a measure of predictability and "a tendency to say just a little too much"; Danakas also noted a few instances where "plotting and characterization come off a might contrived." Nonetheless, the Winnipeg Sun reviewer appreciated MacDonald's "uncanny powers of insight" and his "impressive . . . ability to tell the stories from different points of view"—an American tourist, the waitress at the Bay Inn, a native fishing guide. Adding that "the writing here is often sublime," Danakas called the author "a people's writer . . . the best kind of writer to be." "These efforts . . . prove what's possible when a writer is brave enough to risk the ordinary," Williamson suggested. "The Bridge Out of Town is storytelling at its best, comic and tragic, appealing to all our emotions, while applying gentle satire to many recognizable aspects of everyday life, yet still evoking the distinctive quality of the specific northern Ontario setting."


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

MacDonald, Jake, Houseboat Chronicles: Notes from a Life in Shield Country, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.



PERIODICALS

Books in Canada, November, 1992, review of Raised by the River, p. 49.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997, review of Faces of the Flood: Manitoba's Courageous Battle against the Red River, p. 358; 1997, review of Juliana and the Medicine Fish, p. 516.

Canadian Literature, fall, 1994, review of Raised by the River, p. 223.

Canadian Materials, March, 1991, review of Two Tickets to Paradise, p. 117; February 13, 1998, review of Juliana and the Medicine Fish.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 23, 1986, Antanas Sileika, review of The Bridge Out of Town.

Quill and Quire, September, 1992, review of Raised by the River, p. 68; August, 1997, review of Juliana and the Medicine Fish, p. 40; October, 2002, Robert Wiersema, review of Houseboat Chronicles: Notes from a Life in Shield Country, p. 34.

Winnipeg Free Press, June 21, 1986, David Williamson, review of The Bridge Out of Town.

Winnipeg Sun, June 15, 1986, John Danakas, review of The Bridge Out of Town.



ONLINE

Manitoba Writers Guild: Manitoba Author Publication Index, http://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/mapindex/ (September 17, 2004).

McClelland & Stewart Online, http://www.mcclelland.com/ (March 10, 2003), publisher's description of Houseboat Chronicles.*

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