Into the Blue

Publisher: Vintage Canada
Award-winning journalist Andrea Curtis explores the shadows cast over her family by a century-old shipwreck and uncovers the tragedy, disaster and promise of early life on the Great Lakes.

Every family has a story, passed down through generations. For Andrea Curtis that story is the wreck of the SS J.H. Jones. In 1906, the late-November swells of Georgian Bay erupt into a blinding storm, sinking the Jones and claiming the lives of all on board. Left in the wake is Captain Jim Crawford’s one-year-old daughter, Eleanor, who faces a daunting future of poverty and isolation.

But Eleanor emerges from her childhood determined to leave behind the restrictions of her small town. She plunges into the excitement of Jazz-era California and 1930s Montreal, struggling to become a poet and a writer. Almost a century later, Andrea knows her grandmother Eleanor only as a sophisticated, respected Montreal matriarch. Until, while researching Jim Crawford’s role in the Jones tragedy, she discovers that Eleanor had a hidden past.

Using family stories, archival research and fictionalized re-enactments, Andrea Curtis narrates her family’s history, and that of the place they once called home. Into the Blue shimmers with Curtis’s rich and reflective voice, recreating a little-known but formative time when Canadians persevered through unthinkable loss, violence and disaster, and brings to life a grand era of Great Lakes history. This is a worthy peer to such beloved memoirs as David Macfarlane’s The Danger Tree and Roy MacGregor’s A Life in the Bush.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter 1: A Pirate on the Family Tree

For as long as I can remember I have been haunted by shipwrecks. Two in particular colour my fears with rust and slime. One of these boats is a prosaic wooden tug called the Metamora that was built in Cleveland in 1864 for service on the Great Lakes. It sank in...
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“Compelling … Curtis manages to navigate her way around the kind of sentimentality that characterizes so many family memoirs…. Ultimately the metamemoir is a balancing act, a creation of Curtis’s insatiable curiosity.” -- Quill & Quire

“Curtis weaves the threads of fact and speculation together with the skill of a novelist … navigating the story with a deft, sure and sensitive touch, landing safely at a better understanding of herself and her family, in a beautifully realized narrative.” -- The Globe and Mail

“A blend of fact and remembrance, Into the Blue is a classic piece of Canadiana, a family drama and an absorbing read. A universal story, told so well, with such immensely effective writing skills, that readers will easily imagine they have known the fate of the Crawfords forever.” -- The Owen Sound Sun Times

Into the Blue is a love letter to Georgian Bay disguised as a haunting family memoir. Curtis is a solid journalist with a great imagination.” -- National Post