We need to remember all the history
(Mar 10, 2007)
Guelph's Jerry Prager may well agitate some local residents with a book he's just released. Good on him.
Prager has dared to revisit in minute detail some of the most sordid tales and times in Guelph's past in his Legends of the Morgeti, Volume One 1900-1922. It's a book described by its publishing house as one that confronts some "uncomfortable" truths about Guelph and delivers on that promise.
Prager's book was officially released this week with a public reading at a downtown Guelph church. The affair sparked animated discussion. Most who attended are connected to family trees that have maintained through oral tradition some of the tales Prager dissects in the book. So vigorous was the discussion about this infamous aspect of Guelph's past Prager subsequently established a blog to continue the forum. It's at morgeti.blogspot.com.
An excerpt of Prager's book appears in today's newspaper as the cover of our Here section. We hope to contribute to the review of Guelph's yesteryear that the book is inspiring.
Many -- but not all -- Guelph residents are aware of the community's mob town reputation. This effort explores the validity and the roots of that reputation. It revives knifings, shootings and other crimes that some would wish left as closed cases. But doing so would be to lose something valuable. This community -- any community -- is a product of its history. And, history books do an injustice when they only celebrate great moments, people and hallowed accomplishments.
If you're unaware or under-aware of the story of how clans of Calabrian mafia arrived here from the Village of San Giorio Moregto and helped establish organized crime in Guelph and elsewhere, consider becoming a student of the subject as Prager has -- or through Prager. This work is the result of three years of digging through decades-old newspaper accounts, obscure genealogical records and other documents.
Prager is seeking to teach and perhaps also to provoke in this effort. We applaud him for trying to do both. A citizenry is richer when it is informed about its roots. Legends hold the potential to enrich us about local heritage -- albeit one several locals might want muted.