Family farms are a rich feature of the history of rural Canada, and this book – a handmade book created in a limited edition by Gerard Brender à Brandis – provides a vivid look at one such farm. The Stroh farm in Conestogo, Ontario, has been in the same family since 1854, and the house built on it in 1858 is still inhabited by the family.
The main text of the book narrates the story of the Stroh family and the farm. Wood engravings of farm tools and household implements, and of the house and outbuildings, take the reader into the daily lives of the Stroh family, and of much farm life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Gerard and I worked together on this book from the beginning; it has taken us several years of visits to the farm, and of talks with members of the family, to assemble the material and to mull over the history of the farm and its place in the landscape. I was able to consult the family archives collected by the late Rev. Donald Stroh; and his widow, Louise, helped enormously by providing information.
As always with Gerard’s handmade books, the text had to be limited in length: setting type one letter at a time means that every word has to justify its presence. However, in order to absorb the information that I was acquiring, I wrote a longer text which could then be cut to Gerard’s requirements. For me this is the only way in which a large topic like this can be shaped and then condensed to its essence.
The result is a limited-edition handmade book of 24 pages, with 15 wood engravings printed directly from the blocks. The book was printed on Gerard’s 1865 Albion press and each copy is sewn and bound by hand.
Anyone interested in more details about the book is invited to contact Gerard at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer, you can send me an e-mail using the contact information on this website and I will forward it to Gerard. Please note that his studio is the only place where the book is available for purchase; he is happy to fill mail orders. For more information about his work and his studio (which is open to the public from May to October) please see An Artist's Cottage.