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The Keystone Legacy:  Recollections of a Black Settler

The Keystone Legacy:
Recollections of a Black Settler

by Gwen Hooks

ISBN 0-9699669-4-6
112 pages / bibliography /
index / photos

A piece of Alberta history has survived the passing of time thanks to a recently released book by a Leduc author. The compelling story of the black settlers who moved into the Breton area at the beginning of the century is the driving force behind The Keystone Legacy: Recollections of a Black Settler.

"I felt their story should be told and they should be given recognition for what they have done," said author Gwen Hooks. Hooks said she interviewed as many settlers as she could to complete her book and spent two years researching, writing, phoning, and travelling throughout Western Canada, to cities as far away as Winnipeg and Vancouver.

The idea for the book originated with her late husband Mark. When he died, she decided to finish what he started. "I thought this was the last tribute that I could give him ... I wrote the book for my husband and I wrote as though he was speaking," explained the Keystone-born author.

The Keystone Legacy tells of the daily struggles and experiences of the black families that went to Breton from the United States around 1910. It is the story of the determination and courage of the black pioneers who settled in the Breton area (known as Keystone in the early 1900s). The Keystone homesteaders came mostly from Oklahoma and Kansas to escape U.S. segregation laws. Both Mark and Gwen's parents were among the first 52 black settlers in the Keystone area. Today, only two black families live in the area.

Recently, it [The Keystone Legacy] earned her [Hooks] an Alberta Black Achievement Award, [presented at Edmonton's Citadel] which has in turn sparked a small measure of celebrity. She has appeared in local newspapers and been invited to give a talk ... at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.
Brian Laghi, The Globe and Mail

About the Author: Gwen Hooks is a graduate of the University of Alberta and a retired public school teacher who was employed by the County of Leduc for 35 years. She spends much of her time researching and writing, especially about Black heritage and pioneer times. She currently makes her home in Leduc, Alberta, after having lived most of her life on a farm near Breton, Alberta.

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