Meet Bartle Logie
An abiding love of history and archaeology developed in his childhood, spending more than 40 years in Eastern Cape, and a family history in the Province that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, all combined to inspire retired teacher and former headmaster of Woodridge Preparatory School Bartle "Bart" Logie to begin writing about the region, back in late nineties.
This St Francis Bay historian, adventurer and raconteur par excellence has recently completed his eighth book in a writing career that has spanned nearly 20 years - and he is not done yet!
Several incidents in his childhood influenced him, he recalls. He remembers walking with his teacher father in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, and watching as his Dad pointed to holes in the wall: 'These are bullet holes from the 1922 miners' strike. “The young boy studied the wall closely, completely engrossed. This is one of the events which instilled a deep and lifelong passion for history in Bart.
He also recalls being fascinated by a pair of German binoculars his father brought back from World War One, and engaging in some "dumspter diving" behind a cinema near his home, looking for "archaeological treasures". His efforts were rewarded with the discovery of some scraps of film, which he succeeded in projecting on to a wall in his room.
It was not surprising then, after retiring from Woodridge Prep after 29 years - six as principal - that history played such an integral role when he turned to writing.
More specific to the writing of his first book "Governor's Travels", was a diary by the Governor of the Cape, Sir Alfred Milner, about his trip in a horse-drawn spider (a sporty, open carriage) from Uitenhage, through passes designed by Thomas Bain, to Cape Town in 1897 - one of the earliest recorded journeys by road.
"I make use of this type of thing as a sort of string on which to hang the stories I discover all around the Province," Logie says.
A unique characteristic of Bart Logie's books is that he does not only cover the ground, so to speak, through the meticulous research he carries out, but he and his botanist wife Caryl (she is responsible for all the botanical references in the books) climb into their trusty diesel bakkie to cover the ground, literally. They spend months travelling the area chosen for the books, meeting and talking to people, and getting a first-hand feel for the places he describes. When Bart talks about a battle, his description is not only based on what he has gleaned from the history books, but also from his first-hand knowledge of the terrain and circumstances.
As a result of his particular interest in the history of his favourite province, he has written magazine articles on various aspects of the region. A study of old farm buildings in the former Humansdorp Division of the old Cape Colony led to the compilation in 2010 of an historical gazetteer for the area, and in 2014 he completed, in association with Margaret Harradine, a similar volume for the Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth Divisions on behalf of the Historical Society of Port Elizabeth.
He has contributed towards reports on localities such as the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and the village of Hankey for various central government and local authorities. His research and writings have also appeared on several tourism websites.
Together with Caryl he has been involved – when not writing or travelling – in a variety of projects connected with the preservation of biodiversity in the Eastern Cape.
Bart’s books are a unique combination of travelogue, local history documentary, and fireside story, all told in a free-flowing, easy-to-read and relaxed style.
At left, Bart with the "Boots" that took him through the Baviaanskloof - Bart & Caryl walked the length of the Kloof - almost 200km - as research for his seventh book "Boots in the Baviaans".
At right - a review of his very first book "Governor's Travels".