COLUMN: Newspaper story inspired new book by Spanish author

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Author Mark Guscin takes on the role of Sir John Moore in a re-enactment of the Battle of La Coruna in Spain. La Coruna, Ont. is just one of many cities around the world that get its name from the Spanish Civil War, which involved Napoleon’s Spanish, English and French army. Guscin is writing a new book describing these communities. Submitted photo

Phil Egan

There are a lot of Corunnas in the world, but ours is perhaps the most intriguing.

This is the opinion of Mark Guscin, a famous author and historian who is working on a new book that describes the towns, villages, warships and other things in the world that get their name from a battle of the Napoleonic War in La Coruña, Spain.

Five years ago, the Journal ran an article titled “Founding Corunna Was a Big Idea,” which described Corunna, Ontario’s brief flirtation to become Canada’s capital.

Guscin found the story fascinating. An Englishman living in La Coruña, Spain, and with a long-standing interest in the communities named for town or battle, he decided to tell their stories in a new book.

Guscin, a Ph.D. in history, has written numerous scholarly works in English and Spanish, including a biography of Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, hero of the battle in which the French army was repulsed.

Moore, who lost his life in the battle of 1809, is remembered here in the name of Sir John Moore Public School, the former Township of Moore, and Mooretown itself.

Guscin told me he found Corunna in Michigan and Indiana. In Australia, two sheep stations and a town are named Corunna, along with a WWII mountain, lake, and airfield known as Corunna Downs.

In New Zealand, Guscin located a bay in La Coruna. And a town there called Napier has, like Corunna, Ontario, many streets named for the English soldiers who fought the battle.

HMS Corunna, also named for the Legendary Battle, was a WWII destroyer of the Royal Navy.

Guscin even founded a British software company called Corunna Systems, whose founder was a history buff inspired by the French defeat.

Glasgow, the hometown of Sir John Moore has a Corunna Street. After Guscin corresponded with authorities in the Scottish city, La Coruna, Spain returned the favor by naming one of its arteries Glasgow Avenida.

His own interest in the Battle of La Coruña runs deep. Dressed in a replica of Lieutenant General Moore’s red uniform and mounted on a war horse, he led up to 1,000 “soldiers” in battle reenactments.

His new book is being published in Spanish on a date that has yet to be finalized. I encouraged him to invest in an English version as well and to include, as a preface, a synopsis of the key battle itself.

For the citizens of our Coruña and Corunna all over the world, it would be an entertaining read.

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