Nathan DeLong, a St. Thomas University and The Aquinian alum, debuted his first book – Woodstock: New Brunswick’s Oldest Town Through the Years.
The book, which was released last week, highlights the history of the area and provides a perspective on a growing community’s identity.
“I found as I was doing research, a lot of other things that had been written about the town’s history in the past weren’t readily available,” said DeLong.
Despite being the first incorporated town in one of the original provinces of Canada, the last book published about Woodstock, New Brunswick, is over three decades old and only details antique houses.
“I thought it was time to put an updated version of the town’s history out there that was as all encompassing as possible,” DeLong said.
The 246-page book begins in the late 1600s, using both Indigenous knowledge and European sources to discuss the First Meductic village that once stood just south of the town. From there, DeLong writes about the growth of Woodstock to the present day.
He said that he began working on his book in 2008.
DeLong and his family come from Bedell, just outside of Woodstock. While attending Grade 7 at Woodstock Middle School, he was assigned a social studies project every New Brunswick student is familiar with, the “Heritage Fair,” which is what set the book in motion.
“It kind of transpired when I heard stories from my grandfather about the old days and looked at his scrapbooks, [along] with some of the surgical calendars that came out every year in the Woodstock area,” DeLong said. “We dig those out on Sundays and I’d be up there to visit him for lunch and we would talk that stuff over.”
Delong said he was intrigued by the stories and that he wanted a way to apply the knowledge he gained in his research.
From there, he kept building his awareness about the roots of his community.
While in his third year at STU, DeLong knew he had enough for something long-form and began “chipping-away” at the town’s story.
After completing his journalism and communications double major at STU and a sports editorship at The Aquinian, DeLong found a place at Brunswick News and is currently based in Miramichi.
“I kind of just discovered at a young age that I was passionate about storytelling,” he said.
Before landing up north, DeLong shifted around the province, going where the news corporation needed him.
“Whenever I moved around I took my progress with me,” he said.
Writing during evenings and on weekends, he still kept at his book in spite of all the action. DeLong said that he was working on the book intermittently and that he was excited as the book neared completion.
Future plans for books include chronicling the province’s covered bridges and possibly the history of Miramichi. Another topic he’s interested in is the province’s roadside attractions, including Keswick’s giant axe and Hartland’s covered bridge.
“I’m starting to wonder [why] there isn’t a trademark on the spoken ‘everything’s bigger in Texas,’ because ‘everything’s bigger in New Brunswick’ could be a catchy book title,” he said.
Since his most recent work was over a decade in the making, DeLong believes he has enough material for a Woodstock follow-up as well.
“I need to survive this launch and sell a few copies of this one first,” he said.
Aside from the launch, DeLong is encouraged by the amount of support the book received and by the number of people contacting him so far.
“I was surprised actually by how much interest there is all over the place. People who have come and gone [to Woodstock] from certain areas are intrigued by what the past is like in this area,” he said. “That’s been really cool and positive and makes my labour of love worthwhile.”