bridge of the Edmund Fitzgerald

René Schmidt  

Truth or Fiction?   Real research or B.S.?

I am changing how I do presentations, school and library visits for the next while.  With all the dangerous misinformation around COVID19 vaccinations it is only right to share with people what I have learned about separating good research from hysterical and falsely created 'alternate facts'. The Government has it right. Canada's government, along with virtually all other countries understand that to the best of their knowledge of biology and medicine about this evolving virus, vaccination is the only sane choice. 

I have run across false narratives and self-serving theories, fake news and rumours in all the disasters I have researched, especially medical disasters.   The following lines of not-so-brilliant verse is how I would begin a discussion at your school or library about research.


For Parents & Teachers

Do you teach any students that don’t have a clue?

About fiction or non-fiction what’s opinion, what’s true?

Because in our world of media confusion

Many Students can’t tell between real and illusion

They research something and come up with actual

opinions or hearsay but nothing proven factual

Did they read it on Facebook or other media social

(because we all can be fooled by arguments emotional)

So I tell what I found researching Canadian Disasters

Including many times when rumors spread faster

than truth…  My rule is: don’t trust any source that can’t be fired

For lying or misleading the public or whoever hired 

them… be it books or newspapers, TV or Internet media  

A lot of real facts can be found in Google or Wikipedia

But trust only sources with something valuable to lose,

Like a job, or tenure, or a reputation; they should have no excuse

for lying…  

If we meet I’ll bring funny stories of misinformation

And tragic ones too, that fooled our nation.

Because the falsehoods we sift through are no real mystery

Bogus stories are endemic through Canada’s history

So invite me to your school if your principal has a budget

And you and I will teach research and how to judge it.

             René Schmidt


René Schmidt is author of Young Adult and teen fiction and non-fiction books. His series on Canadian Disasters has sold over 100 000 copies and can be found in most libraries and schools across Canada. His fiction novel Leaving Fletchville deals with racism and continues to receive excellent reviews in Canada and the USA. René has also written articles for Canadian Living and other publications. 


SPECIAL NOTE  For research purposes in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, readers might want to read René's previous brief but accurate accounts of epidemics through Canada's history, such as the Spanish 'Flu, Polio and S.A.R.S. These stories are free to download while the pandemic lasts.  Click on Biological Disasters 

René and Shirley live on 40 acres in Wooler, Ontario. Meet his family.    

René and Shirley with Adrian and Daniel (with cat). 


Below René gives a presentation to students in Etobicoke. 

René taught in inner-city schools in Scarborough and was surprised so many students hated reading.  He began to write his own stories using the students' names as the main characters.  René used his writing to introduce historical facts and narratives to help reluctant readers learn more about Canada.  



Below, René describes mine disasters and child labour laws in Eastern Canada. As he demonstrates, boys as young as twelve worked (and died) in the Springhill coal mines in the 1800s.



René won the Forest of Reading Red Maple Honour award for Leaving Fletchville. He's with prize-winners Ted Staunton, Sigmund Brouwer, Karen Bass, Alma Fullerton, Rebecca Bender, Kari-Lynn Winters, Robert Priest, Adrienne Kress, Rona Rimler Arato, Heather Camlot, Sylvia McNicoll, Rebecca Anderson Bohner, Irene Luxbacher Nadia Hohn and Marsha Skrypuch (who organized the event) an Author's Booking Service event in Milton. 


René attended a wonderful book launch at Stockdale P.S., the last school he taught at. Kathryn Corbett (now owner of Lighthouse Books in Brighton) organized a follow-up visit to the Forest of Reading event in Toronto. Leaving Fletchville won second place overall.  Former students read their favourite parts from Leaving Fletchville.