Authors on the Bay: Kim MacIsaac

This month we bring you Kim MacIsaac’s new book: Peaks Island past and present. This beautiful book is the result of several decades of research about the history of her beloved island. Kim kindly answered some of my questions about her book:

It sounds like your family has been on the island for several generations – can you tell us briefly how they came to Peaks Island?

My maternal great-grandmother’s family came from Nova Scotia around 1880 – some to Portland and others to Natick, MA.  The Portland branch of the family acquired a cottage on Peaks.  Mom and Grammy grew up here summers.  My dad’s parents emigrated from Italy in 1911.  Some people from their village were already in Portland.  By 1916 they had bought several plots of land and a house on Peaks.  So my parents met on Peaks.  Dad was born on the island & mom became a year-round resident when they married.

How long did it take for this book to be published?  Tell us a little about the path to publication.

I have been researching Peaks Island’s history for decades – I’m still researching today.  There is always something new to discover.  The book is an expansion of my master’s thesis about tourism on Peaks.  Being locked down due to Covid gave me plenty of time to work on the book.  I started writing in earnest in fall of 2020 and completed the manuscript in late winter of 2021.  I only included a fraction of my research – it took a long time to decide what to include.  I signed on with Maine Authors Publishing in spring 2021.  Publication was scheduled for late summer/early fall 2021 but it was delayed several times because of the broken supply chain.  The publisher had trouble resupplying the paper & book cloth that I chose.  The books finally arrived a few days after Christmas.

How do you separate fact from fiction? (tall tales)

Peaks history is largely an oral history.  Not much documentation – the island is barely mentioned in any histories of Portland.  The stories that I heard from a variety of people, some of whom didn’t know one another, seemed to remain pretty much the same as they were passed down thru the generations.  Other stories seemed to be nothing but gossip – juicy things about this person or that person.  It seemed best not to put them in print.

How does your research of Peaks Island history translate to your golf cart tours on the island?

My daughter started the tour business in 2003 – the information given on tour is basic general information that can be corroborated.  New stuff gets incorporated & each tour guide brings in his/her experience of living on the island.  

Peaks Island seems to have changed in the past few years – how do you preserve the history currently there? How do you foresee the history of Peaks Island being told in the future?

The Peaks Island Historical Society (I am the curator) is documenting current happenings on the island via photos, newspaper items, & public programs/activities that are aimed at educating people about the importance & need to preserve not just the past but also today.  What happened yesterday, last week etc. is now history.  The Society was formed in 2019 with that goal in mind.  We have a big turn over in population so we’re hoping that the long-time residents & their families who have been here for generations will continue our efforts.

Kim’s book is available at the Long Island Community Library