To celebrate the release of his latest book, Saanich author Dion Manastryski is holding a book launch for Prairie Sunset: A Story of Change Wednesday at Spinnakers Brewpub.
The 240-page hardcover features more than 100 vibrant, full-colour photos taken by Manastryski in the Prairies, accompanied by excerpts from 70 interviews with retired farmers, former teachers of one-room schools and other longstanding community members. The book discusses the past way of life in the rural Prairies and how things have changed over the last century.
“I grew up on a small farm in the Canadian Prairies, and witnessed some of the way of life that began a century earlier with the homesteaders,” he said in a statement. “The small family farm was at the heart of the rural life on the Prairies: neighbours within walking distance, a rich sense of community, and vibrant small towns.”
Manastryski, who grew up on a small farm near Rose Valley, Sask., started a crowdfunding campaign last year to publish the book and raised nearly $41,000, the seventh largest photography project funded on Indiegogo at the time.
The book was finished over last winter and spring, and has received positive feedback from presentations in the Prairies.
The quotes from the interview subjects – one of which was 105 years old – provide personal anecdotes about early survival, the development of small towns, self-sufficiency and local food production, and the rich, vibrant rural community. Their perspectives illustrate how Prairie life has changed and raise questions about what may have been lost with the extinction of the small family farm.
“In my search for understanding as I roamed the homesteads of a vanishing era, I photographed the abandoned structures, and talked to people of the Prairies,” stated Manastryski. “Collectively, they have a remarkable story to tell, and I would like to share this with you.”
Manastryski’s 20-year background in photography, prepress and publishing lent itself to the production of Prairie Sunset, independently published by himself and a team of editors, a designer and a technical team.
The book launch at Spinnakers Brewpub will take place upstairs in the main area, Wednesday at 7 p.m. The launch is for ages 19-plus and open to the public, and there is no obligation to buy the book for attendees of the launch.
For more information, visit prairiesunset.ca.