The Next Chapter

Marjorie Simmins reflects on Silver Donald Cameron's bestselling true crime book Blood in the Water

The writer and journalist talks about how her late husband wrote the bestselling nonfiction book about a famous real-life murder case in the Maritimes.
Marjorie Simmins divides her time between Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Her husband was the author and journalist Silver Donald Cameron. (Silver Donald Cameron, Viking)

This interview originally aired on March 13, 2021.

Marjorie Simmins is a Canadian writer and journalist. Her husband was Silver Donald Cameron, the Nova Scotia author, journalist and filmmaker who died in 2020.

Cameron's nonfiction book, Blood in the Water recounts the 2013 murder of Philip Boudreau, a notorious outlaw who was killed while vandalizing the lobster traps of three Cape Breton fishermen. Blood in the Water is set to be adapted to screen by Trailer Park Boys co-creator Barrie Dunn.

Blood in the Water also won a 2021 Atlantic Book Award.

Marjorie Simmins and Silver Donald Cameron with their sheltie dogs MacTavish and Frank. (Chris Beckett)

Simmins played a key role in encouraging Cameron to write the book. She spoke with The Next Chapter about Cameron and how the book came to be. 

A tale to be told

"The story of Philip Boudreau's death was all over the world, and in our small pocket of the world, within hours that it happened. This was such a shock because you had these three very upstanding figures in the community. This affected the whole island because we were all so terribly shocked. 

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The story of Philip Boudreau's death was all over the world, and in our small pocket of the world, within hours that it happened.

"But [Cameron] at first was not going to write the story. He was hesitant about it. He didn't want to bring any more pain to his friends, neighbours, acquaintances and the residents of Isle Madame, where he had lived among peaceably all these years. He didn't want to spread the pain around. 

"To tell you the honest truth, it was me who said, 'Oh, but you must write this.' And he said, 'Why must I write it?'

"And I said, 'Because it's going to be your love song to Isle Madame. You've looked for this opportunity in a longer form for quite a while now. And this will bring all your experiences here, all your deep, deep knowledge of these people, this place, and this Acadian culture… there's no one else on the planet that can write this book as well as stirringly and as knowledgeably as you can. You gotta do it.' 

"And he said, 'All right.'"

Slaying at sea

9 years ago
Duration 2:34
Nova Scotia fisherman Philip Boudreau was shot and his boat run over before his body was tied to an anchor and sunk

Digging to get the real story

"The number of interviews he did was just amazing. Each time he'd come home and say, 'Oh, gosh, I got the best material this time, so much! It had so much contact, so much flavour.' 

"He knew he had to keep digging and digging to get the real story. If you went with the headlines in the newspaper, you'd think it was — and I hate to use the phrase — but 'Murder for Lobsters.'

The number of interviews he did was just amazing.

"That had so little to do with it. Everyone here knew it, and cringed every time they heard the phrase. He had to be very, very careful — when you discover something that has explosive content, you have to be very sure that you have your facts correct.

"And he did."

Marjorie Simmins's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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