From award-winning author Merilyn Simonds, the biography of an aristocrat who survived the Russian Revolution to become a renowned naturalist.
A woman of the Swedish aristocracy loses her young husband in the Russian revolution and finds her way to northern Ontario to work as a nurse for the Dionne Quintuplets before discovering a deep love of the birds that live on her handful of acres. She creates longitudinal behavior and population studies that are still used by ornithologists today.
Referred to as a Canadian Rachel Carson, Louise de Kiriline Lawrence lived and worked in an isolated log cabin near North Bay. After her husband was murdered by Bolsheviks, she refused her Swedish privilege and joined the Canadian Red Cross, visiting her northern Ontario patients by dogsled. When Elzire Dionne gave birth to five babies, Louise became nurse to the Dionne Quintuplets. Repulsed by the media circus, she retreated to her wilderness cabin, where she devoted herself to studying the birds that nested in her forest. Author of six books and scores of magazine stories, de Kiriline Lawrence and her 'loghouse nest' became a Mecca for international ornithologists.
Lawrence was an old woman when Merilyn Simonds moved into the woods not far away. Their paths crossed, sparking Simonds’s lifelong interest. A dedicated birder, Simonds brings her own songbird experiences from Canadian nesting grounds and Mexican wintering grounds to this deeply researched, engaging portrait of a uniquely fascinating woman.
Merilyn Simonds is the author of 18 books, including the non-fiction classic The Convict Lover (1996, Macfarlane Walter & Ross), Gutenberg's Fingerprint (2017), and most recently, the novel Refuge (2018, both ECW Press). The founder and first artistic director of the Kingston WritersFest, Simonds is an influential champion of writers and writing. She lives with writer and translator Wayne Grady and divides her time between Kingston, Ontario, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.