Raising Charles Joseph’s Totem in Montreal

'Residential School Totem Pole' carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka'wakw Nation, BC, being raised at the Montréal Musée des Beaux Arts 2017
I happened to be passing as the ‘Residential School Totem,’ carved by artist Charles Joseph from Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, BC, was being raised outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Of course I had to stop and watch even though it was Continue reading

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The Challenges of Judging a Children’s Writing Competition

Even though I’ve graded any number of school and university students’ papers, exams and projects, I’ve never enjoyed it. That’s an understatement. I loathe grading!

So why did I volunteer to join a judging committee for a children’s writing competition?

I suppose I felt it was a small way to give back to the larger writing community. I’ve been so lucky to have wonderful generous mentors and friends who’ve taken the time to give me advice and feedback.

In any case, what could be so hard about helping judge a children’s writing competition?

Plenty, as it turned out! Continue reading

What is ‘Home’ for a Writer?

Bridge House, Ambleside, Cumbria, EnglandA writer friend who had recently moved to Montreal asked me where home was for me. Was it Montreal?

I was surprised how complicated it was to answer that. Yes, my home is in Montreal. I’ve lived here for years. But Montreal is not totally “home.” There are ways in which I’ll never feel I completely belong. For one thing, I only have to open my mouth and people know I’m not from here. I certainly don’t sound like a francophone Canadian. I don’t sound like an anglophone Canadian either.

Where are you from? I’m asked that at least once a week.

But where I came from isn’t home either. That country has changed so much that when I’m there, I’m definitely a visitor. I even have trouble working out which coin is what value when I get on the bus or go shopping.

So is home being with my husband? With my family? Or is it…

I’m clearly not the only one to have trouble pinning down the idea of ‘home.’

The panel discussion “What is Home” at the recent Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, Continue reading

Opening the Door to Backstory

Backstories are always fascinating to a fiction writer. How can you know the characters in your story if you don’t know what’s happened in their past and how that’s affected them?

Is that why I feel so sad when I see yet another of Montreal’s beautiful old mansions bite the dust? Because when we’ve lost Montreal’s old buildings, we won’t know Montreal?

I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was of this building Continue reading

If Only This Were My Secret Door To Writing

near Beaver Lake, Mount Royal, Montreal

Just looking at these quirky little lopsided buildings in the trees to one side of Beaver Lake on “the mountain” (Montreal’s Mount Royal) makes me want to sit down and write.

I’m sure I’d finish my next story collection so much faster if I had one of these as my private writing nook.

Unfortunately that little sticker says Continue reading

Ice Cubes, Kangaroos and Canadian Cows

Canadian Weekend 1979This week from the Time Capsule: the magazine Canadian Weekend November 1979.

Some things just read differently now. For example the headline: “Wonderful WONDERFUL Wonder Weed“… the article is talking about seaweed.

My favourite article is “Kangaroos Are Peculiar to Canada,” tidbits from student essays compiled by a teacher of Canadian history in the U.S. “There are many animals peculiar to Canada. Just for one, it would be peculiar to see Continue reading

Doors to the Past – Open or Leave Closed?

Mulroney-Reagan Trade Deal 1988 - Warren Allmand MP ReportLast week I wimped out of my Time Capsule project (my door to the past).

The booklet I pulled out was distributed by our Member of Parliament in 1988 detailing the reasons why the Mulroney-Reagan Trade Deal was not a good idea.

Quite the coincidence that I should find it now, given that President Trump has just opened the door to renegotiating the trade deal (now NAFTA)….

I did try to make a blackout poem with a page of the text but it just didn’t work.

This week the Time Capsule produced the Continue reading