New Book—LAUGHING WATERS—Coming Soon!

Life, Love, and Laughter
Along the Great Waters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!

Laughing Waters, by Coralie Cederna Johnson, is the author’s third memoir of growing up in the magnificent Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The new book is due out at the end of July 2015 and follows The Wishing Years and A Tree Grows in Trout Creek.

In this inspiring and funny memoir, the author shows us what it was like to grow up in Michigan’s magnificent land of lakes, rivers, and iron ore. Laughing Waters takes us through joys and tragedies such as one family’s loss of their father in a mining cave-in. At the same time it reminds us of the strength in sharing family values, recipes for good food, and laughter…always laughter!

Bear Facts “Gail’s grandpa gave us each a small piece of hot bear on a toothpick. And then we chewed and chewed…but it tasted like an old rubber inner tube. And it stunk!”

Walking from Camp Batawagama to the Ojibwa Burial Grounds at Chicaugon Lake, we observed the rule: “The forest belongs to the animals. Leave it untouched, as you have found it.”

Laughing Whitefish Salmon, long, fat, and joyful, swimming secretly in a hidden stream. And they appeared to be …laughing! The great Ojibwa spirit, Gitchi Manitou, had smiled upon us.

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New Memoir by Coralie Cederna Johnson

New Memoir by Coralie Cederna Johnson

Ojibwa Indian Burial Grounds in the Upper Peninsula

Ojibwa Burial Grounds in Upper Peninsula

A few days ago I received a postcard from my dear friend Jeanne whom I’ve known since Kindergarten. We shared the same homerooms throughout our years in grade and high school in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, attended the same church and were active Thespians throughout high school. We attended each others birthday parties when we were kids and corresponded through the years as adults.

The post card I received said to watch for a surprise in the mail and have a camera on hand to take photos. So that is what I did. And what a wonderful & exciting surprise it was to discover a beautiful original oil painting of the Pentoga Park Ojibwa Burial Grounds (located a few miles from where we grew up) by my friend Jeanne. Her note said, “There is only one place this could go…It isn’t the exact shot as the picture in your bookA Tree Grows in Trout Creekbut it’s the same spot.”

I was deeply touched and thrilled to be the recipient of this memorable oil painting by Jeanne. It’s lovely to see every day this wonderful tribute to the area in which we came of age. But more important, it is the friendship of the many years our lives have been entwined that I cherish.


You can find more cultural information about Ojibwa/Chippewa Indians in my books:The Wishing YearsandA Tree Grows in Trout Creek, both are collections of stories of growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

A Tale of Two Cities (& a Village)

In August 2000, The Detroit Free Press praised the small Upper Peninsula of Michigan governments of two cities and one village for consolidating into one larger entity. On July 1, 2000, the cities of Stambaugh and Iron River and the village of Mineral Hills founded a new city called Iron River, Michigan.

Seeking a common good, wrote the Press, the three municipalities, put aside hometown loyalties and became one

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A Shadowy Saga of Seney

When Nellie Bly, a famed and outspoken journalist of the late 1800’s, was told chilling tales of wickedness–barroom brawls, slavery and murder–in Seney, Michigan, she came herself to see if they were true. What she discovered were saloons brimming with booze, gambling and ladies of the night.”

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U.P. Heartland of the Finnish

Determined to discover a place where they could enjoy the same solitude and spiritual communion with nature they’d known in Finland, it is not surprising a majority of Finnish people, chose the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for their home.

Forced out of Finland following the fatal famine of the 1860’s, they came to the U.P. resolving to enrich their lives, but harboring in their hearts the mysterious minor melodies of their ancestors and their heritage of a million shining nights in the land of the midnight sun.

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The Sweet Song of Success

Awash in an aura of nostalgia and history, the stately grey and white two-story turn-of-the-century home sitting proudly on the grounds of the Iron County Museum in Caspian, Michigan, seemed to sing out a welcome. Strains of I Love You Truly” played upon my memory, bringing to mind the hundreds of thousands of weddings and other special events that have been blessed with the music of Carrie Jacobs-Bond, an early Iron County resident.

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Mysteries of the Michigamme

Snaking its way through the old Mansfield Mine Locationjust east of Crystal Falls, Michigan and three miles north of old Highway 69the Michigamme River appears peaceful and serene. A winsome waterway, it tumbles smoothly along to meet and combine with the Menominee River. Rolling waves, soothing in sight, smell, and sound, capture the senses with their calm.

Yet the Michigamme River’s history belies its calm exterior. There is a dark side to its brooding, bending current, which has been known to be swift, sure, and to strike without warning.

A twisting and turning link between Lake Superior and Green Bay, it was a major waterway for explorers and missionaries who depended on it to guide them safely along on their journeys. But some of those journeys along the Michigamme have been anything but safe.

When the aging missionary, Father Menard, attempted to escape from an unfriendly L’Anse band of Chippewa Indians in 1661, he was last seen canoeing along the coursing river just before he met with death. Only the silent rocky shores, the towering pines and the shadowy rivulets of the Michigamme know the mystery of how he spent his final moments.

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