One of the first books I picked up while engaged in research for That Forgetful Shore was A Bridge Built Halfway, simply because I have a chapter that’s set at Memorial University College in 1931-32 and I didn’t know very much about what Memorial was like in the early days, long before it was a full-fledged university. Malcolm MacLeod’s very thorough and readable history of Memorial in its early era is well-researched and informative. I learned a lot of useful tidbits, like the fact that S.J. Carew, after whom the Engineering building is named, was a one-man Engineering faculty in the early days and taught an exhausting schedule of everything students needed to know to be prepared to complete full-fledged engineering degrees in a Canadian university. Similar situations prevailed in most of the other areas of study, as a handful of dedicated teachers taught the first generation of Newfoundlanders to obtain post-secondary education in their own country.
This book has the advantage of having been written while many graduates of the original College are still alive, and were able to contribute personal remeniscences through interviews, which adds a nice human touch to the more scholarly research about the founding of the College and the state of Newfoundland education and society at the time. It was quite useful for my novel-writing research, but was primarily interesting to me as an alumna of Memorial University; it’s always good to know a bit about the history of your own institution.