Archives for category: Canadian History

Prospects for selling my book at the Byward Market in Ottawa when I arrived at 10 a.m. Wednesday looked as dim as the thunderstorm forecast. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough copies (five) in the next six hours to buy tickets for a big treat. I defied the skies to clear in time for a picnic with our granddaughters and their parents before watching the preview performance of theater under the stars on the banks of the Rideau River that night. mmarket.jpgWork crews carrying partitions, shopkeepers rushing with arms full to set up for the day, twosomes and threesomes speaking languages other than English brushed past. Where were my buyers?

  • The atmosphere enlivened at lunch time, with music and dancing in the adjacent square attracting a noisy, lively crowd. A quarrel between someone not quite in his right senses and a big truck disrupted the self improvement, creative atmosphere I was trying to inject.
  • A dreary-eyed, homeless man with his bundles and bags slouched up against the bricks, heritage plaque and sesquicentennial posters on the market building facing me. Where were my readers?

It was discouraging and my devoted hubby of 61 years decided I was crazy and he might as well abandon ship and go home.  While he hesitated, I was ready with my elevator pitch to summarize my book in two sentences.

  • Anyone drawn to the table for a closer look at my framed newspaper article headlined “Call of Love in the Wilderness” got it. An old toothless man mesmerized by a 1904 picture of my mother as a child in a sailor outfit stayed because he wanted to hear her full story.
  • With a cheery “Hi Margaret!” up strode author Stevie Szabad, eager to buy two of my books and pick up advice from someone she perceived as having accomplished things she wanted to do. We plotted to sell together at the Galeries Aylmer Christmas market. 

Hubby stayed when I reminded him I was there to get my parents’ exemplary story out, not just sell the product. A take-out lunch of chicken sandwiches and smoothies fortified us both. 

  • Then a ray of sunshine, a tourist from Vancouver, suddenly appeared. He wanted to know more about why I called my book “A Book of Kells” and gave me advice on genealogy. He bought a signed copy as a gift and souvenir of Canada’s 150th.
  • A particularly friendly face came to the table confidently and I was able to engage her in conversation. For the next twenty minutes Tom and I found we had much to share with her and vice versa. Gale O’Brien is a lovely, avid reader who lives in Britannia by the Ottawa river. She now owns one copy of A Book of Kells and one of  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride which I hope she will enjoy reading.
  • When Kelly Buell turned up because she had been following me online, Tom was getting the car because it was 4 p.m., time for us to pack up. Kelly and I chatted and hope to help each other in future as writers so often do.

When I first met the organizer of the Byward marketing team and showed her my book, she told me she is a ‘Kell’ on her mother’s side. I was able to inform lovely, competent Megan Sartori that we are second cousins twice removed. 

By the way, the outdoor performance in Strathcona Park was superb. My granddaughters, aged 10 to 16 were absolutely thrilled with The Amorous Servant by Carl Goldoni staged by Odyssey theater. Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed its humor and sensible advice for all ages, too.

www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  www.margaretvirany.com

Happy Reading & Writing from Cozy Book Basics until We Meet Again!

Advertisements

 

10186066The radish had its moment as a symbol of Canada even before the Maple Leaf flag.

The radish is a reliable, tasty quick-growing snack, often the first vegetable in Canadian gardens to be ready to eat by the July 1st national holiday. It is annual proof that we have vanquished winter. Canada Day is celebrated in various, inventive ways, always with the flag with a red leaf on it being waved vigorously. But only once on record did the humble radish ever get any such glory.

For a moment on July 1, 1927 this sidekick at every summer feast reigned supreme.  It was Canada’s Ronald Reagan moment, when Americans chose Hollywood’s most gifted supporting actor to be their president. This was supposed to happen only to maple leaves. Usually the height of a radish’s success is to be carved into something resembling a rose that blossoms when set out on a tray of ice. Joy for a radish is to be nibbled as noisily as possible. 

It happened on the diamond jubilee of Dominion Day ninety years ago. The Spirit of Saint Louis landed in Toronto as Parliament Hill in Ottawa groomed itself to greet guest of honor Charles Lindbergh. Due to miraculous radio technology, Canadians from sea to sea tuned in simultaneously to a nationwide church service with biblical passages selected and read by federal members of Parliament.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles to the northwest, JACK (John Ambrose Campbell Kell), an Ontario farm boy assiduously cultivated into a missionary, was brimming over with patriotism. He wondered how he could create a feeling of joyous belonging in his charges on the Swampy Cree reservation at Oxford House, MB.

He represented a Church that strove to evangelize the ‘Indians’ (as Canadian law called them) and a Government that wanted to make its citizens more homogeneous and had to fulfill treaty obligations. He was preacher, spiritual guide, welfare officer, medical officer, justice of the peace and teacher (if the real one fell sick, as happened, and had to leave the reserve.)

It was a lot for a 29-year-old to handle, but not too much for one energized by good faith and the potential of Canada’s youthfulness, beauty and exuberance. All he needed was a few practical tools:

Proclaiming a holiday

  • JACK gave the men a day off with pay from their work of building a fence around their community garden. When he had arrived at Oxford House he immediately saw the people didn’t have enough to eat yet never grew food in their fertile soil.  They were semi-nomadic hunters who ate meat and baked bannock made from fat and berries. JACK got them to plant four gardens: one for the missionary, one for the teacher, one for the chief and one for the community.

A guest of honor with a connection to royalty  

  • The old guide who had led the Duke of Connaught from Norway House up to York Factory many years ago lived on the reserve. JACK got him to tell the young boys about his adventures and what their lives might be like too.

Educating the Indians in Canadianism

  • ‘Dominion Day’ had to be made relevant to the Indians so they could feel included in this strange thing called ‘Confederation’. JACK told them the word ‘Canada’ was from the Iroquoian word ‘Kanata’, meaning ‘village.’ He reminded them that they were already familiar with the word ‘Dominion’ from Psalms 72: v 8 in the Bible. He told them he dreamed of the day when they would be full citizens of the country and have a vote. (This did not happen until 1960.)

Preaching a Pearsonian vision of Canada’s role

  • JACK told them the Jewish people in the Bible had a vision of what God expected of them. In the same way, Canadians were chosen to show how a nation may be built in peace, righteousness and sincerity. It would be an example of how people of varying religions and races may live together in one nation with tolerance and honor. Nobel peace prize winner Lester Pearson was JACK’s history tutor at the University of Toronto.

Conspicuous shiny, glittering or red objects as symbols

  • Gold ore, not diamonds, lay buried near Oxford House but JACK had an even better idea. The first vegetable of the season had ripened and what was the Indians’ surprise when JACK dug beautiful red radishes out of the soil and gave one to each person. Anyone who really knows radishes knows how good they taste when they don’t get too much sun so aren’t too hot. My old blind Aunt Suzy discovered that if you want them to taste even better, you should eat the wormy ones. Not only that, they are a health food nut’s delight, full of good vitamins and minerals.

O Canada ! If JACK’s story had been revealed in time, what competition the Maple Leaf flag might have had when it was adopted!

Happy 150th anniversary of Confederation this Saturday, Canada!

This and other colorful incidents from Canada’s past are recounted in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole RidePlease press the Home button above to see my archive of blog posts or take a look at www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany or www.margaretvirany.com

www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com 

 

Cookstownchurch

Watercolor by Cookstown artist Jay Kirk-Young

On May Day I fled my computer to go sit in the pew where my grandfather sat when he was raising a family in the early 1900’s in Cookstown, ON, north of Toronto. I was not alone. We were a flock of 200, the size of church needed in 1825 by a tiny rural village of 500 (not counting the animals) which had only three churches.

  • We sang the old hymns. We listened to memories. We seized this last inspiring moment. We and the old building with its organ pipes and choir loft harmonized and rode into the sunset with the Churchill Boys country music group. We squirmed during a too-long yet relevant sermon. We knew after two hours it was time to say the closing prayer’s “Amen”. We lingered over the last potluck in the basement. We hugged our relatives and new friend, the funeral director, whom we will meet again.
  • My grandpa (a speaker had reminded us by citing ‘A Tribute to Our Parents‘ written by my father) read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table.When hushed, everybody in the family, even the two hired men, got off their chairs and knelt to pray.
  • I wonder if I was sitting in the pew where grandpa sat before he died when he fell from an apple tree, where father sat the day he was sponsored as a candidate for the ministry, where mother sat on her first Sunday in a strange country as part of a family she didn’t know, or where I was held the day I was baptized.
  • We say thanks by celebrating occasions like the decommissioning of an old church, or by writing books about our families. The Cookstown United Church people, now comprising only 25 families, will continue to worship with the Countryside United Church people in the town of Thornton just up the highway. The building will not be destroyed because the core of the village, still of 500 but just about to be developed, has been declared a protected zone.
  • This is the heritage I celebrate in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. Then I wrote a second book, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, singling out my mother’s winter bush adventures in northern Manitoba and including pictures.
  • Like the Lady of Shalott in my avatar, my creative efforts died while I fled from my writing web but now they are alive again.

On June 4 I will join other authors selling their wares at Prose in the Park, a wonderful, free outdoor family literary event in the market on Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. I will be with friends from the Media Club of Ottawa and Ottawa Independent Writers.
What will really make it special is if you can be there too (in spirit, if not body).

www. cozybookbasics.worpress.com
www.amazon.com/author/margarevirany

Jack would be a long, lonely journey for Jack from the white cliffs of Dover back to the Indian reserve in Oxford House, MB

Canadian sailor Jack had come courting, was rejected and felt banished. It would be a long, lonely journey back to the mission field in Oxford House, Manitoba. But he was stubborn. As he looked toward the sea from atop  the white cliffs of Dover, he couldn’t bring himself to give up all hope.

Kathleen felt as miserable as the weather, but a nagging voice inside told her it would be too risky to marry a Canadian.

Kathleen felt as miserable as the weather. A voice inside told her it would be impossible for her to marry this Canadian; it was far too risky. So, she had to just let him slip away.

  • You can now read in paperback form the compelling story of what happened to Jack and Kathleen. It is a true love story from over the ocean and in the bush after World War 1.
  • To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride  for Christmas giving, or to find out about e-book and paperback versions of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Eating at Church, click on the link to Amazoor my website.
  • You might just love coming out to see Old Aylmer. Ottawa’s most bilingual suburb on the Quebec side is always festive, with its replica of the old Symmes Inn at the bend in the river where Champlain rested and its British Hotel to which where D’Arcy McGee’s murderers fled.
  • The Art & Artisans’ Sale at the Galeries d’Aylmer takes place on Nov. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stevie Szabad, ‘army brat’ and I, ‘preacher’s kid’ promise not to fight or pray while we chat and offer to sell and sign at our book table. We hope you’ll consider our memoirs a real ‘find’ to put in your Christmas shopping basket — something enjoyably cozy now and possibly forever.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com. http://www.margaretvirany.com

martycat

Marty is a very intelligent cat. Anyone can see that.

Sometimes real things happen that are very mysterious.  You can call it extrasensory perception (ESP), if  you like. When my mother Kathleen Kell, a very intelligent woman,  heard these family stories she just said, “I wonder,” with a faraway twinkle in her eyes. They’re from the lives of the characters in A Book of Kells and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.

A Grieving Sailor in a Lucky Port

As 19-year-old Jack Kell left for war in 1916, his tearful father told him he would never see him again. Six months later, Jack got the sad news aboard ship in the English Channel, where he was manning guns and minesweeping, that his father had died. An apple tree limb he sat on broke; he lurched forward and a sharp tip pierced his lung. Kind souls consoled Jack at Portsmouth Methodist Chapel’s Christmas At Home for servicemen, where fatherly Walter Ward also invited him for tea with his wife and family.

A Nervous Mother-to-Be with Good Instincts

Pregnant Kathleen Ward Kell felt a little nervous her first Christmas in Canada in 1928. She told husband Jack she thought it would be best for their baby to be born in a hospital, not a teepee on the isolated reservation where they were missionaries. Her instincts were right. Even the trained nurse and doctor were challenged.

reindeer

Only startled wild creatures saw the threesome of man, woman and guide pass by in an ingenious, unconventional fashion

It was well worth having made the 180-mile trek that startled only wild creatures as a threesome of man, woman and guide passed by in an ingenious fashion rigged up by Jack.

A Midnight Summons to Duty

One winter night in 1936 Rev. J.A.C. Kell, in a Toronto duplex doubling as a parsonage, woke with a jolt. His mother was calling — she had no phone on the farm — and summoning him. Jack woke Kathleen; they bundled the three little girls up and into their 1929 Ford. His brother Clifton had never recovered from war wounds but, this past Xmas, had got up off the sick couch to give the girls a one-horse, open sleigh ride. From afar, Jack saw the porch light on and his mother’s silhouette at the window confirming him in his worst fears. Now she had only Jack left out of her four men.

A Doomed Captain’s Last SOS

On Nov. 19, 1941, His Majesty’s Australian Ship HMAS Sydney was mutually destructively engaged with the German cruiser Kormoran and lost with all 645 crew members on board. As he went down in the South China Sea, Capt. Joe Burnett sent a mental message to his wife saying he loved her. Enid Ward Burnett got it, and then the official, tragic news. The Toronto Star knocked on Kathleen’s door to ask for her brother-in law’s picture. She sent a Xmas parcel to her bereaved sister, niece and nephews who carried on heroically.

Reader Mary Groome of Wakefield, QC writes, “Thank you so much for writing Kathleen’s Cariole Ride. I enjoyed the history and the examples of courage and love these people exhibited.”

Season’s Greetings & Happy Reading from CozyBookBasics!

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Kells-Growing-Ego-Void-ebook/dp/B00440DQNA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

http://www.amazon.com/Kathleens-Cariole-Ride-Margaret-Virany-ebook/dp/B006NFSYV8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

I used this table display and it helped me sell seven books at Brittons book store and four at the Small Press Book Fairl

I used this table display to help me sell eleven books altogether Saturday at Brittons book store and the Small Press Book Fair. Other Ottawa authors I know who are on the trail are Bob Barclay, Allan Bowker, Barry Findlay and Bob Fowler. Check the Citizen’s Book Events for those I’ve missed.

Pearl Pirie is an icon of the avant garde poets' community in Ottawa. She hosts a radio program and conducts workshops.

Pearl Pirie is an icon of the avant garde poets’ community in Ottawa. She hosts a radio program and conducts workshops. Here she takes a rare pause at the 20th anniversary Small Press Book Fair sale.

I was across from Pearl at the wonderfully varied SPBF, selling my books in a more classical style. We're  friends and photographed each other.

I was across from Pearl at the very varied SPBF, selling my books in a more classical style. We’re friends and photographed each other.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, CreateSpace or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

scrnshot kcrI am finding that an author who is converting an e-book to a paperback has a lot of work to do. Fortunately, my publisher CreateSpace is a pioneer in the process and has honed it to perfection. My job is to type the manuscript into Microsoft Word according to their guidelines, edit it and get at least one other person to proofread it. By now I have learned how to scan pictures into my computer and use the picture program from the MW toolbar to size them and insert them into the manuscript. With more and more practice, I have become quite expert at getting them placed precisely!

When I am ready, I go into the CreateSpace website and click on the commands that let them know I am here to publish my Kindle e-book as a paperback. Because CreatSpace and Kindle are both owned by Amazon, they will convert my book to the new format at no cost! All I need to do is follow their explicit instructions and fill out their forms. They ask for details of my identity, my book’s title, the number of pages, my choice of dimensions, etc.

They also require an ISBN (international standard book number) so that it can be cataloged by libraries and distributors. I got my number from Library & Archives Canada, although I could have had CreateSpace get it for me. Mine was Canadian; theirs would have been American. I had been advised by Canadian publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2003 to follow this path and also to create my own imprint name and logo.This makes the author’s copyright solid.

Making a cover was easy with the CreateSpace cover creator, since you can choose from a variety of templates, fonts and pictures to find what suits  your book best. You can experiment and see previews of your book title in different designs and colors until you are satisfied.

When you are ready, you convert your manuscript to a PDF by clicking the appropriate line in MW, then go into CreateSpace. It will tell you when to press ‘upload’, ‘submit’ and ‘save’ until the job is done. If you are in doubt at any step of the way, you can contact support and get immediate help over the phone or by email.

I found the whole process very satisfactory and am now waiting for them to finish reviewing my files. Then I will ask them to send me a proof copy by priority post. Changes can still be made but everything takes time. The last decisions are to accept  what they say the price will be and order as many copies as you wish. Besides the postage for the proof ($25) the books will be your only expense.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Rideand Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

(Next week I will write about how I plan to promote and sell the paperback.)