This Island In Time: Remarkable Tales From Montreal’s Past
John Kalbfleisch

Vehicule Press

Astute Gazette readers will recognize the author of “Second Draft,” a column on Montreal history. This Island in Time is not a re-hash of the columns, although the author admits to the occasional fleshing out of older pieces when more material has become available. Kalbfleisch is clearly fascinated by the people whose stories he tells, and his enthusiasm is contagious. His easy writing style leads the reader through the eras, from the founding of Montreal to 1967 (an arbitrary cut-off date) with eyewitness accounts of deeds both wicked and saintly.

Even Abraham Lincoln gets a look in. John Wilkes Booth came to Montreal in October 1864 looking for support for the Confederate cause, and when he was drunk averred, “Abe’s contract is near up.” Later-several months after Booth was alleged to have been killed in a barn in the United States-a man answering Booth’s description was discovered in Montreal. He was brought before a judge, who dismissed him without a question. (The same judge, obviously too sympathetic to the Confederate cause, also exonerated the St. Albans Raiders.) German U-Boats off Anticosti Island have Montreal links, and Kalbfleisch brings the characters to life, including a mysterious German who worked for The Gazette for many years, and a denizen of Anticosti Island who took carefully aimed pot-shots at the U-Boats.

There is a touch of romance, of the macabre, and of political events which changed our country’s history but which hung in the balance until affected by the actions of a handful of ordinary people. This Island in Time is a remarkable collection of remarkable tales. mRb