American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

RATIGAN, WILLIAM O. (1910-1984). Born to a Great Lakes* steamboat engineer in Detroit and later adopted by an Ottawa tribe chief, William Ratigan called Michigan his home. This Great Lakes historian’s writings celebrate ordinary Americans who made big names for themselves. His books are seasoned with Lakes poetry, often his own. He is best known for Soo Canal! (1954), a historical novel about the famous waterway’s construction, and Great Lakes Shipwrecks* and Survivals (1960, 1969, 1977), which dramatically retells the Lakes’ worst disasters. Highly respected, each edition commemorates a lost boat: the Bradley, the Morrell, and the Edmund Fitzgerald.*

Ratigan’s work includes “Hiawatha and America’s Mightiest Mile” (1955), an essay that marvels at the relationship between Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s* poem and the Soo Canal; Adventures of Captain McCargo (1956); Highways over Broad Waters; The Long Crossing (1959); and a 1958 children’s folktale trilogy: Blue Snow, Adventures of Paul Bunyan and Babe, and Tiny Tim Pine. [See also JUVENILE LITERATURE]

Donald P. Curtis