In 1992 a book called Them Times, by David Weale, was published by Island Studies Press, and went on to become a best-seller. Presently there are more than 20,000 copies in print. The book was a collection of historical vignettes that recalled the society of rural PEI before ‘modernity’ swept across the province like a hurricane in the mid-20th century, and changed every aspect of Island culture.
Since he authored Them Times, Weale has gone on to write a number of other books about Prince Edward Island, as well as four books for children, but with Tale Bearer he returns to the subject matter that really began his career as a writer. When asked why he has chosen to publish more essays on Them Times he replied:
“For years people have been asking me when I was going to write another book like Them Times, and I always said there were other things I wanted to do, and that I had already done that. But as I got older something changed. I began to realize that I still had many stories I had never published, and, quite frankly, I didn’t want to take them to the grave with me, especially since so many of them were passed my way by other Islanders who had, I believe, some expectation that I would share them with others.”
There are more than fifty essays in the book that deal with everything from on-the-road itinerants, to school pranks, to the massive contribution of horses, to kitchen smells, to belief in the supernatural, to the shivaree, to home remedies, to sexual attitudes, to the curse of warts, to midwifery, to poverty, to rats, and to the ritual importance of a cup of tea.