If you live in one area long enough, you end up hearing some interesting stories from your neighbours, said Qualicum Beach resident and author Dan Lundine.
Stories of immigration, of pioneering, of overcoming obstacles.
These are Canadian stories, said Lundine, and ones he felt compelled to write down.
That’s how he began work on his latest book — the humorously titled but not comedically driven My Mother Married My Boyfriend: Extraordinary Tales of Everyday Canadians.
The book launches Monday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s United Church in Qualicum Beach.
The book incorporates 24 personal stories of people from across the country. There is one story from almost every one of Canada’s provinces, he said.
“All a person has to do is get in your vehicle and start driving across small-town Canada, stop at every Elks club and legion hall and small-town pub and there’s a wealth of stories,” said Lundine.
He grew up listening and enjoying his own grandparents’ stories about pioneering, and then leaving Vancouver Island at age 19 to work in the Prairies in the dead of winter, his appetite for such stories grew upon arriving in a different world.
“I listened to all these new stories from all these Saskatchewan folks about some of their ancestors that pioneered the Prairie, and I was fascinated by all these tales of this whole new world — to me a whole new world,” said Lundine. “I was born and raised on Vancouver Island. Never left here until I went to work. So I guess those two sources would be my motivation (for writing this book).”
It was about three years ago when Lundine began sitting down with neighbours and getting their stories down, and tracking down other stories from across the country.
“One of the stories, I was talking to a friend and he was mentioning a policeman friend of his in Ontario who had answered a call to a bank robbery,” said Lundine. “I won’t give you all the details of that… but I thought there’s a story I want to have in my collection.”
Three of the stories in his book come right from people in the Qualicum Beach area, while others he’d learn of through friends and acquaintances.
Though they are all unique, they all have a common theme, he said: Canadians who’ve struggled but who’ve come out the other side.
The one that perhaps impacted Lundine the most comes from a woman in Newfoundland, he said. Despite being the same age, “her world was so entirely different than mine,” he said. “By comparison, I grew up with all of the amenities in the 40s, and she grew up without any of those amenities on the East Coast of Newfoundland. And what we took for granted, out here, mainstream life, those folks… I mean we are talking dog sleds and isolation and seal hunting… So her story really impacted me.”
Though when first beginning to work on this book, Lundine said he was focused on pioneering stories like this woman’s, but Lundine grew to include other stories from the ’40s into the ’60s as well.
Lundine said he doesn’t expect having any problem interesting people his age in the book, but added he hopes it can do more than that.
“I’m also hoping that this adds a little bit to the flavour of what it is and what it has been… to be a citizen in this country.
“Several of my stories involve people immigrating to Canada and taking their citizenship, and I think those stories are extremely timely because right now, politically, we’re going through another period of immigration and have been for the last year or two with Syria particularly and folks wanting to come here for asylum. It never ends. There are always people in other parts of the world who are desperate to get here and see Canada as a safe place.”
Lundine’s new book will be launched with the help of the Oceanside Grandmothers to Grandmothers organization on Monday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s United Church in Qualicum Beach at 150 Village Way.
Ten per cent of book sales will go to the Oceanside Grandmothers to Grandmothers, which raises money to support grandmothers in Africa.
The book will also be available through Mulberry Bush Bookstore, and on Lundine’s website, danlundine.com/, said Lundine.