Posts Tagged ‘McKenty Books’


April 5, 2016

The Inside Story

Lets continue the story…




The Special Olympics And A Special Wedding

I arranged to see Catharine that same evening in early May 1972.  For the next ten nights straight we went out dining, dancing or to the theatre.  Sometimes Catharine would come for breakfast.  I also began sending flowers and telegrams to her office on a daily basis.  This was about as normal for me as getting up at midnight to floss my teeth.  But nothing was normal these days.  I was in a new space, one I had never inhabited before.  This wasn’t puppy love in Hyde Park or infatuation over a weekend.  This was the real thing.  I had sensed in Catharine a depth both mysterious and translucent, a spiritual quality that rang true.  Add to that an effervescent sense of humour and a musical laugh that tinkled like Christmas bells.  Would she marry me?  Yes, she would.  I don’t understand now why we waited ten years.

That same evening.  Catharine went to a large family gathering where she told her mother she had become engaged.  A few days later I was invited to meet her mother, Victoria, in her elegantly furnished apartment off Avenue Road below St. Clair.  In some respects Victoria, affectionately called ”Aunt Queenie” by her close friends and family, fitted the description of a mulier fortis, a matriarch, in the Old Testament.  She was a woman of character, faith and wisdom garnered over long years rich in experience, people and giving to others.  Her life was centred on her extended family.  Her father, Robert J. Fleming, ”the people’s Bob,” had been mayor of Toronto in the 1890’s.  Her husband, Walter Turnbull, a Protestant missionary, had been killed in a car accident before their only daughter, Catharine, was born.  Victoria never remarried but devoted her life to her family, her friends and her many charities, especially those related to the church.

So in terms of background our meeting was a curious one.  Victoria had come from a long line of northern Irish forebears rooted in the Protestant tradition, a tradition that viewed Irish Catholics and some of their superstition and drinking habits with, not to put fine point on it, some suspicion.  And here I was in her spacious living room, not only an Irish Catholic but former Jesuit priest, ostensibly asking for the hand of her only daughter in marriage – ”ostensibly” as the question was academic, since Catharine, like her mother, had a strong mind of her own and had already made it up.  Nevertheless, Victoria expressed her concerns about our relationship, then explained to me how she and her large family had been praying since Catharine was a little girl that the Lord would provide the right husband for her.  Summoning all the years of Jesuit training going back to Aristotle’s advice on how to make one’s case, I replied quickly, ”All your prayers have now been answered.”  In spite of herself, Aunt Queenie’s sense of humour surfaced and we both relaxed into our chairs and began to discuss plans for the wedding.

There was one problem that seemed insuperable.  It was one thing for Victoria to agree to her daughter’s marrying a Catholic; it was quite another to agree the marriage should take place in a Catholic church with a Catholic priest.  Catharine told me frankly this would be asking too much of her mother.  So we took our problem to a senior official in the Catholic Archdiocese who promised to take it higher.  To my relief, Archbishop Pocock gave permission to have a Protestant minister officiate at our marriage.

So on August 19, 1972, a hot cloudless day, Catharine and I were married in the chapel at Bishop Strachan School which she had attended.  An old friend of Catharine’s family, Canon Dann of St. James Anglican Cathedral, presided at the ceremony, assisted by my good Jesuit friend, Father Edward Dowling.  Afterwards the reception for our family and friends was held at the Hunt Club overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario.  We drove to Muskoka for a few days of canoeing and swimming, then to the shores of Lake Simcoe to Victoria’s splendid sixty-years-old summer home, Peribonka, named for the river in Quebec where she and Walter had spent their honeymoon.  For Catharine and me on our honeymoon on Lake Simcoe, they were happy days.

Visit the bookshop here: click here

Jean P.


September 2, 2015


He liked to argue just for the fun of it. In the 70’s & 80’s he was one of Montreal’s highest rated radio talk show host, with more than 75000 people tuning in for his show.

In 1985 he leaves the radio scene at the top of his career to pursue other interests, then comes back into the spotlight but in an other media, television, to host McKenty Live!  With guests ranging from Dr. Ruth to René Lévesque you would be sure to be entertained the whole hour.

The book is available here: click here

McKenty Books Selection: Polly of Bridgewater Farm

March 8, 2015

Polly of Bridgewater Farm – an unknown Irish story

by Catharine Fleming McKenty

What a splendid book … what a delightful story. The bibliography and illustrations give it the right air of authenticity. The book is very educational – all those who read it will hardly notice they are being taught … the author is a superb storyteller! I could feel the slushy peat field … I could smell the rain coming.

Marianna O’Gallagher
Authority on Grosse Île and its preservation as an Irish monument, Quebec City, Canada

Novel outline

How in the world did Polly Noble, a bubbly little girl with freckles, born just outside Dromore in January 1837, live to become the subject of a biography more than a century later in Toronto?

Little Polly steps out - illustration from the book

Little Polly steps out – illustration from the book

This is the story of an idylic irish childhood torn asunder by the famine of 1847, and the trials of emigration to a new life in Canada. It was on her father’s farm, on the old Coach Road between Dromore and Enniskillen, that Polly spent an idyllic two years with her parents, George and Jane Noble. Then Disaster struck. On January 6, 1839, the infamous ‘Big Wind’ rose out of the sea and swept across Ireland, wailing like a thousand banshees. It flattened whole villages, burned down farm houses, and finally killed her father. It changed Polly’s life forever. Two years later, Polly’s mother, Jane, married William Fleming, the handsome widower across the road at Bridgewater Farm. Soon Polly began to walk back and forth the mile or so to the one-room school run by the Kildare Society in Dromore. But she found time to plant potatoes, milk the cows, look after the goats, pull flax, chase the hens and run bare-foot in the meadows. Then disaster struck again, this time the potato crop failed and famine and typhus threatened Bridgewater Farm. Like thousands of Irish people, the Flemings decided they must escape. They packed what they could, travelling by horse and cart to Londonderry/Derry, and drinking in their last views of the green fields and hills of Ireland. On May 14, 1847, along with 418 other passengers, they boarded the three-masted sailing ship ‘Sesostris’. Only 10 years old, Polly was on her way to a new life in Canada. After an appalling voyage, during which some of the passengers, including Polly’s darling little brother and sister died, they docked at Grosse-Île, the quarantine station on the St. Lawrence River, about an hour from Quebec. After three years in Montreal, where she met her future husband, Polly was now ready for her next adventure in a vast unknown land called Canada. Her destiny would be linked with a dozen children who had lost their mothers, one of them a future mayor of Toronto.


To purchase a copy of the limited colour edition of Polly of Bridgewater Farm, click on the Buy Now button below (Canadian customers only)

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

To purchase a copy of Polly of Bridgewater Farm, b & w edition

click here.


To hear the author Catharine Fleming McKenty on BBC Northern Ireland click below.


AA CM Scrapbook

The author at her childhood home – Donlands near Toronto.