General News

Local author releases new children’s book on area history

November 26, 2020   ·   0 Comments


local journalism initiative reporter

Nancy Early, local resident and author, has orchestrated a fun children’s book to celebrate Alton Village’s 200th anniversary.

What was supposed to be organized for September 19, was unfortunately postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Early is thrilled to finally be able to release her book into the community. 

“Alton’s Bicentennial organizers had a great, fun event planned with local businesses, organizations and residents participating. It would have been a great homecoming celebration,” said Early. 

It all began when one local Alton resident, Betty Starr, came into Early’s place of work at the Caledon Public Library, Alton Branch, looking for any information, materials and books specifically aimed towards children in preparation for the event.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to locate much to help Betty, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. 

“Her request played in my mind for days,” explained Early. “Then it occurred to me; why not just write our own book? I grew up in Alton, and always enjoyed hearing the stories of how the river (Shaws Creek, a tributary of Credit River) played a huge role in making Alton an industrial and cultural hub in the early years.”

“And, I’m a writer,” she added.

Early has been a writer all her life.

She has written Care Bear scripts and TV travel shows, but is most proud of her work in The Hills Magazine and Orangeville Theatre Little Women who she wrote alongside Jim Betts in 2019.

Specifically, for Once Upon a River, she was most thrilled to partner alongside illustrator Kasia Charko, who was able to bring the children’s book a reality, stated Early. 

“With only a rough draft in hand, I rather tentatively approached Kasia Charko, award-winning illustrator and Alton resident. I told her I would pay her out of my own pocket or find the money somehow, but I wondered, if she’d team up with me on this project? Without hesitation, she agreed,” said Early.

“Her lush, beautiful illustrations feature local landscapes, various heritage buildings and she perfectly captured the likeness of the Alton founders. It’s simply gorgeous the work she’s done. I attribute the success of this picture book to Kasia. It was a great partnership.”

She states that her favourite part of the children’s book are the illustrations created by Charko.

Early jumped at the opportunity to for children and their families to get out and visit historical treasures in Alton Village by placing a Scavenger Hunt at the back of the book. The hunt takes readers on a journey to look for clues to answer fun and educational history questions.

“We’re so lucky to have heritage buildings like the Millcroft Inn and Alton Mill Arts Centre, and Paul Morin Gallery still standing,” she said.

The production and planning of the book for both Early and Charko received a tremendous amount of community support. 

These included the Caledon Public Library Writer’s Ink, whose eyes first feasted on the story. The Caledon Heritage Foundation was also quick to join in to help get the book out into the community. 

“I must thank Toronto Osprey Valley and the Humeniuk Foundation.  Local businesses jumped in to provide fun giveaways for the Scavenger Hunt. And, more recently, the swell of support from neighbours and friends reaching out to buy the book. I’ve had Facebook requests as far away as Switzerland to California from former ‘Altonites’,” said Early. 

Though a challenge to fit 200 years of Alton history into 32 pages, Early hopes to provide children with loads of history, highlights and different heroes who played a significant role in the past 200 years, as well as bringing the focus on how the river has and continues to play a part. 

“I end the story offering the idea that while there were early settlers and founders from 200 years ago, today we are the earth’s keepers, we are now the settlers, and it’s up to all of us, including this younger generation, to keep our village and the river healthy so that in 200 more years – we can continue to tell Alton stories,” explained Early. 

Only a limited amount of printed copies are available. For those interested in purchasing “Once Upon a River”, email at, or call (519) 943-0055. 



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