Whitmans trace the McNeil family story
By Heather Killen
A new book looks at a 60-year family history that ends with a premier.
Dave and Paulette Whitman have just put the finishing touches on their latest book, “Premier Stephen McNeil A story of a Nova Scotian Family.” This book traces Stephen McNeil’s political career and his family history of community and public service.
It tells the story of the McNeil and Mombourquette families, starting from Cape Breton and moving to Spryfield. Whitman tells how Burt McNeil and Theresa Mombourquette met through Ginger McNeil, married, and eventually relocated the family to the Annapolis Valley.
Back in Spryfield the McNeil family were well-respected members of the community with McNeil’s grandfather serving as fire chief and his grandmother running the local post office.
Dave Whitman says he’s had the idea for the book in the back of his mind for some time, and on the night of the election last fall, he called McNeil to congratulate him and mention the book idea.
Since that time Whitman has interviewed various members of McNeil’s family and extended family, including both maternal and paternal sides in his research. While the book is informative about the political process, Whitman said he wanted to explore the background leading up to the election.
He includes stories from Upper Granville, showing the strong family love of sports as captured in honours found in the local Sports Hall of Fame. Whitman also pays tribute to single mother Theresa, as a strong role model for public service.
Danny Graham, former Liberal leader, and S. Albert Johnson both provide forewords to the book. Whitman says that in all of the interviews and conversations that he’s conducted while compiling the book, everyone has spoken positively about the premier and his family.
The book is not intended to focus solely on McNeil’s personal rise in politics, he says, but rather present a portrait of his family’s longstanding tradition of public and community service.
The Whitmans have self-published 12 books, mostly on local history though their Paradise-based family company Bailey Chase Books. Past titles include: “Lost in The Woods,” “See You At the EX,” “Lawrencetown: Our Hockeyville,” and “From Port Williams to Paradise.”
Dave and Paulette Whitman are hosting a book launch for “Premier Stephen McNeil A Story of a Nova Scotian Family” on May 10 at the Paradise Community Hall, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. For more information on the book, or the launch, visit www.davewhitman.ca