Jacqueline Langille,
Giants Angus McAskill & Anna Swan
(Four East, 1991)

Over the years and many visits to the Hall of the Clans at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's, Cape Breton, I often wondered about the life-sized drawing of a very large and kilted man at the end of one hallway. It was labeled as Angus McAskill, but a brief biography tacked to the wall told only a little about this massive Cape Breton legend.

Fascinated by the bare outline of the man, I picked up a copy of Giants Angus McAskill & Anna Swan, a slim volume in the Famous Maritimers line, to learn more. It more than sated my interest in Angus, and it also told me of another giant Anna Swan, whose life in Nova Scotia overlapped his own.

These 19th-century figures were both renowned as much for their gentleness as their size, and both made their livings in one of the few avenues available to them at the time: as traveling curiosities. Both, though hampered by their great size, retained their dignity along with a love for home and family.

Jacqueline Langille's book is a fast read, but an absorbing one. It paints a loving portrait of two larger-than-life characters from Canadian history.

review by
Tom Knapp

29 December 2007

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