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April 13, 2017: A is for Author and Artist; Miriam Bloom, Kitchissippi Author and Designer. | NEWSWEST on-line

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April 13, 2017: A is for Author and Artist; Miriam Bloom, Kitchissippi Author and Designer.

April 13, 2017: A is for Author and Artist;
Miriam Bloom, Kitchissippi Author and Designer.

By Barbara Clubb.

Miriam Bloom is a model for active retirement. Last year, at 70, this longtime Kitchissippi resident, book designer, artist and now author, had her first painting exhibition.

Now, after a career designing other people’s books and reports, she has produced her own book in collaboration with her friend and colleague, the late Julie Mason. “An ABC of Ottawa” was launched earlier this month at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s on Richmond Road. It is the first ever alphabet book for kids to celebrate our beautiful city.

In 2009, Miriam and Julie decided to feature the capital in an imaginative learn-to-read ABC book filled with fun and whimsy.

As the designer, Miriam wanted to put polka-dots on the snowscapes and stripes on the chip wagon. As the photographer and writer, Julie knew that cityscapes could inspire a children‘s alphabet book.

“It’s fun for young readers to open a colourful book and recognize places where they live and play,” says Miriam. Sadly, in 2010 Julie died of cancer and the project went on hold.

“But I couldn’t let it go,” said Miriam.

Julie’s husband, Don McGregor, felt the same way and now the project is finished. “Don and I both think that Julie would be delighted with the outcome,” adds Miriam.

Miriam grew up in a home where reading was an important part of life. She and her two brothers were surrounded by books, atlases, and encyclopedias. When the siblings grew older their mother worked as a library assistant, resulting in even more books in the home.

After finishing her B.A. at McGill, Miriam knew she wanted to work in commercial design and illustration. She studied at l’École des beaux arts in Montreal but soon moved to Toronto in what was a boom time for Canadian publishing, with many new publishers in need of layout and design specialists.

Being a designer means lots of innovation and training when methods and technologies change. This is how she ended up back in Montreal. The Montreal Star moved from hot metal to cold type and needed an experienced designer. Miriam designed the paper’s eye-catching, weekly Entertainments section.

She next moved across the Atlantic to attend the Brighton College of Art. There she worked in lithography, hand typesetting, and bookbinding.

A project that Miriam is especially proud of is Read Up on It, an annual Library and Archives of Canada publication that promoted Canadian literature and reading for children. She says that by far her most complex project was the 5-volume, 4,000-page Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples which included special publications in English, French, Cree, and Inuktitut.

Miriam first met and worked with Julie Mason in Toronto. A few years later they found themselves with their young families in Ottawa where they resumed working together. Miriam still lives in Kitchissippi where she raised their two children with her husband, Victor Rabinovitch.

She has a busy list of regular activities which includes cross-country skiing (she and Victor take part in the Gatineau Loppet each year), and 5 km. competitive runs. With grandchildren in Brooklyn and Shanghai, Miriam adds travel to her busy list as well.

Recently, Miriam took up pastel painting and had her first ever exhibition in Ottawa last year. Her work will also be included in an exhibition in Montreal later this year.

Julie Mason spent nearly 50 years as a newspaper columnist (including the Ottawa Citizen), fiction writer, book reviewer, photographer, political strategist, and advertising director. She organized fund raising campaigns for orphaned children abroad and also taught English to new Canadians.

Julie was a fierce advocate for the rights of women and children and was unwavering in her defense of Canada’s health care system. She certainly would be proud of An ABC of Ottawa as a lasting legacy to her city and her family, especially her two granddaughters Scarlet and Cleo.

An ABC of Ottawa was conceived, designed, written and printed in Ottawa. It is available at all Mrs Tiggy Winkle Toy Stores and Books on Beechwood, Octopus Books, Perfect Books, Fab Baby Gear and online at http://miriambloomart.ca . A French version is under development.

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Made in Ottawa

Photo Caption: Author Miriam Bloom flanked by Mayor Jim Watson (left) and Don McGregor (right, husband of co-author Julie Mason) celebrates the launch of “An ABC of Ottawa” at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s in Westboro earlier this month. Photo by Barbara Clubb.

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Filled with fun and whimsy

Photo Caption: Cover and page artwork by Miriam Bloom.

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K is for Kids

Photo Caption: Miriam and Scarlet take a youthful peek. Photo by Barbara Clubb.

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Kids are for it

Photo Caption: Kid clientele at Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s. Photo by Barbara Clubb.

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Signed in Spirit

Photo Caption: Miriam Bloom with photo nearby of her friend and colleague, the late Julie Mason at the book signing. Photo by Barbara Clubb.

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