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|Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith|
2005.07.21Local Duo Brings Past to Life
SAULT STE. MARIE—Sault Ste. Marie natives Dave Stanaway and Susan Askwith recently recorded several songs on a CD detailing the early fur trading days of Sault Ste. Marie, and one of its most important settlers, John Johnston and his wife Susan. The CD's creation can be found in a grant project that the duo undertook in 2004, when they were approached to write and sing original songs for performances at the historic Johnston house in the Sault.
“The idea of writing songs has always been alluring, but it took quite a bit of research.”
Stanaway said that both he and Askwith had played in the Sault for many years and decided that it would be interesting to play together. "The idea of writing songs has always been alluring," he said. "But it took quite a bit of research." He added that he found the subject quite interesting, realizing how much the Johnstons and his wife's family helped to shape the Sault and Bay Mills communities.
The songs delve into the life of Johnston (1762-1828), an Irishman who came to the Lake Superior frontier in the early 1790s. Through his business as an independent fur trader and his marriage to the daughter of a powerful Ojibwa chief, John Johnston came to play a prominent role in the development of this part of the Old Northwest Territory. The songs also describe early settlers' perspective of the trials and triumphs of life and death here.
Dave and Susan will be performing their songs each Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 2 p.m. now through Sept. 2 at the John Johnston historic home located on Water Street next to the U.S. Coast Guard Station. The CDs are available for purchase at the John Johnston House, from the Stanaway and Askwith, and via the Internet.