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Hamilton Reads

Choose one – or all! – of these four locally written books to delve into Mohawk art, disability activism, the life of a rock star or fairies for kids.

Finding a spare moment to curl up with a good book is always a treat; however, it’s an even better experience when you’ve found a title by a local author. Here are a few Hamilton-area books to add to your to-be-read pile!

Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs: The Art of Tom Wilson Tehoháhake

A newly appointed member to the Order of Canada, Tom Wilson Tehoháhake has a lot to celebrate in 2024. His new coffee table book, Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs: The Art of Tom Wilson Tehoháhake was released in January. Next, the musical adaptation of his first book, Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home, is set to close Theatre Aquarius’s 50th season in April. Both books and the play explore Wilson’s search for identity through art, music, and words.

In Beautiful Scars, Wilson used prose to tell the astonishing story of discovering his hidden Indigenous heritage. In Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs, it’s his visual art that takes centre stage. Featuring more than 35 full-colour images of Wilson’s intricate paintings, alongside family snapshots and photos of his studio at The Cotton Factory on Sherman Avenue, the book explores how his art has developed, especially since learning about his Indigenous roots.

Presented in dual languages — English accompanied by a Mohawk translation by Karonhí:io Delaronde — Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs was co-written by Toronto’s David Liss, who first met Wilson at the Dundas Valley School of Art in 1980. Wilson’s “visual art practice immediately took on a renewed and urgent purpose as a means of exploring and understanding his identity and his relationship to it,” writes Liss of Wilson’s recent art exploration in the book’s introduction.

“Along with evolving vibrant imagery in a distinct, highly accomplished style, his work during this period represents his intensely personal journey,” he adds.
Mohawk Warriors, Hunters & Chiefs is a stunning collection that not only celebrates Wilson’s art — on canvas, guitars, board, and other surfaces — but also pays homage to his artistic practice, highlighting its renewed and urgent purpose to better explore and understand a long-hidden identity.

Beryl: The Making of a Disability Activist
Dustin Galer

Disability activist Beryl Potter isn’t a household name, but she should be. A survivor of more than 100 surgeries, the working-class mother devoted herself to disability justice following an accident. She’s the subject of Beryl: The Making of a Disability Activist, an extraordinary biography by Hamilton’s Dustin Galer, a historian who has published widely on the topic of disability history and labour. With great precision, Galer takes readers from Potter’s childhood in early 20th-century Liverpool where she barely survived scarlet fever to her life and work in Canada, which included lobbying for accessible transit, employment rights, and a foray into politics as a Liberal party candidate.

Lay It On The Line: A Backstage Pass to Rock Star Adventure, Conflict and TRIUMPH
Rik Emmett

With six decades in the music biz, it’s no surprise that Rik Emmett has stories to tell. Best known as the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist with Canadian rock band Triumph, he’s also released many more solo projects that range from rock and blues to jazz, folk, and classical. His book, Lay It On The Line: A Backstage Pass to Rock Star Adventure, Conflict and TRIUMPH, has elements you might expect in a rock n’ roll memoir: favourite gigs and tours, surviving fame, and brushes with music royalty. However, more importantly, it’s full of many life lessons he gained along the way, including prioritizing his nearly 50-year marriage, balancing ego with humility, embracing mistakes, and gaining and keeping perspective as a student of life. Now retired from touring, Emmett lives in Burlington.

The Only Lonely Fairy
Lana Button

Looking for a book that combines make-believe, melodrama, and comedy for the young readers in your life? Look no further than The Only Lonely Fairy, the most recent picture book by Burlington’s Lana Button. In it, Leah is looking for a friend to play fairies, but none of her classmates accept. The result is an entertaining look at navigating social situations and conflict, written by an early childhood educator, coupled with vibrant illustrations by Peggy Collins. The duo also worked together on Percy’s Perfect Friend, their 2023 collaboration.