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Pictou County historian Clyde Macdonald to launch 16th book

Clyde Macdonald holds a copy of his latest book, More Nova Scotians In and Out of Court, which will be sold at a launch hosted by the Pictou County Roots Society at the New Glasgow Library on Aug. 10 at 2 p.m.
Clyde Macdonald holds a copy of his latest book, More Nova Scotians In and Out of Court, which will be sold at a launch hosted by the Pictou County Roots Society at the New Glasgow Library on Aug. 10 at 2 p.m. - Adam MacInnis

When retired judge Clyde Macdonald heard about the recent exoneration of Glen Assoun in Halifax for a murder he didn’t commit, his mind immediately went to a historic case from 1897, when thousands petitioned to save a 17-year-old on death row for murder.
Lyman Dartt had been found guilty of murder on Dec. 10, 1897 and was to be hanged on March 3, 1898. On the same day of the sentencing, new evidence came forward and during the ensuing days, 5,000 individuals signed a petition to have the federal minister of justice David Mills order a new trial or commute Dartt’s sentence to death. The February 1898 petition was even signed by numerous New Glasgow merchants along Provost and Archimedes streets, although the case was from Colchester County. Among the petitioners were 14 Truro lawyers who petitioned for a new trial. 
“Assoun’s lawyer, Sean MacDonald claimed that the former federal minister of justice, Mrs. Jody Wilson-Raybold, sat for a year-and-a-half on the recommendation to order a new trial for Assoun,” MacDonald stated. 
In sharp contrast, in the case of Dartt, who was sentenced to hang, then justice minister David Mills took some extraordinary action.
“You wouldn’t guess in a million years what he did with that case,” Macdonald said.
Macdonald encourages those who would like to find out what happened to purchase his latest book, “More Nova Scotians In and Out of Court.”
This is the 16th book Macdonald has published and will be launched by the Pictou County Roots Society at the New Glasgow library on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 2 to 4 p.m. This will be the only time the book will be for sale.
The book covers a wide range of topics from the story of Westville boxer George Smith, who tried to make it to the 1924 Olympics, to the story of three Pictou County lawyers who passed away between 2017 and 2018. 
One chapter of personal significance for Macdonald covers the sinking of the coastal steamer ‘Princess Sophia’ near Juneau, Alaska on Oct. 25, 1918 when 343 people on board lost their lives. Among these were three of Macdonald’s grandfather’s cousins: Jack Chisholm and his wife Rosabel (Hattie) Chisholm of Caledonia, Guysborough County and Alexander Hattie Sutherland of Lower Caledonia, Guysborough County. Representatives of the trio joined in a class-action suit for monetary damages against the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, the owner of the Princess Sophia. As well, their representatives joined in a class action applications for benefits under the British Columbia Worker’s Compensation Act. The court case went all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, England.
The book also features a chapter on Carrie Best of New Glasgow, who on Dec. 29, 1941, was removed from the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, for sitting in the white section of the theatre. 
“Mrs. Best sued the Roseland Theatre Company as well as N.W. Mason, the managing director and majority owner of the Roseland for $5,504. This civil case was decided on May 14, 1942 before a Supreme Court judge and jury at Pictou."
Another chapter in the book Macdonald said he particularly enjoyed working on is about the life and time of Courtney Malcolm of New Glasgow. 
“I must have interviewed him about 12 times and each time I found it so interesting,” Macdonald said.
Malcolm is an iconic Nova Scotia sportsman, whose promising NHL career was brought to a sudden end in 1952 when he fractured his right femur while playing hockey at a training camp in Guelph, Ont. 
“Over the years he became a respected icon of the sporting community in Pictou County and indeed in Nova Scotia as a coach, official, administrator, organizer and developer,” Macdonald said.
Only a limited number of books are available. The Pictou County Roots Society will host the book launch and will serve a light lunch, which is open to the public. All proceeds from the sale of the books will go to the Pictou County Roots Society.
 

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