Paul Strickland


Paul Strickland with music in hand

I am a Prince George freelance writer and creative writer.
My journalistic career covered 32 years: four years as a freelance writer for the University of Nevada-Reno Sagebrush newspaper and small-town Nevada weeklies, nine years as a more than full-time journalist for the daily Medicine Hat News, and nineteen years as a full-time reporter for The Prince George Citizen.

My only full-length book is my thesis for the M.A. in English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (1974) “Oscar Wilde and the Interrelationships Among Critic, Artist and Society.”   See   I received an M.A. in history from the University of Nevada-Reno in 1980; however, I opted for Plan B, a combination of oral and written exams and long seminar papers, and I did not present a thesis for that degree. I self-published, with the help of Spee Dee Printers, a chapbook of poetry and short-short stories, “Work Cancels Art”, to send out as Christmas gifts in 2009. This past spring I sent ten pages of submissions to the federal labour standards review panel, which is overseen by Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

1. Please describe your writing/art:
I am a freelance journalist and a writer of poetry, short fiction and essays.

2. What is the writing/artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?
A column I wrote for the University of Nevada-Reno Sagebrush between 1977 and 1981, “Jeffersonian Postscript”. It dealt with urban affairs, university finance and environmental issues. Most of the editors allowed me complete freedom, and some of the columns dealing with social attitudes, the return of the extreme work ethic after the sixties counter-culture collapsed and its impact on friendship and political participation still stand up today.
Within the category of creative writing, I am most proud of the chapbook of poetry and short-short stories I published for this past Christmas season, “Work Cancels Art”.

3. What are a couple of your specific writing and artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?
Of course, write a novel. Also, write more political and social opinion and also an extended work of history. In addition, I will continue writing poetry and short stories.

4. What do you love most about northern B.C. and why?
I like the long sunsets and deep dusk of the late spring, midsummer and early fall. I also like the hiking trails in the Ancient Forest east of Prince George and in the McBride district.

5. What are the biggest challenges about living in northern B.C.?
Sometimes heavy snow and poor driving conditions, as well as -30 and -40 spells, which have become much less frequent than in 1990, my first year in Prince George. People are friendlier here than in Medicine Hat. It is easier to get to know people in Prince George, but they leave quickly too when they move or are transferred out.
Property crime and the downtown core are challenges. Air quality is often poor.

6. Are there other northern B.C. (or surrounding area) writers and artists who have inspired you. If so, why?
Brian Fawcett’s work has inspired and encouraged me. I reviewed his “Cambodia: A Book for People Who Find Television Too Slow” for The Medicine Hat News in 1986. When I moved to Prince George in 1990, he informed me it was his home town. Fawcett is critical of group-think on both the right and left, and he has given me much encouragement. I am politically just left of centre, and my views offend people on both the left and right. My style of writing is frowned upon by most editors today. It is important to have the encouragement of someone like Brian Fawcett in the circumstances I face.
Lynda Williams, a Prince George-based science-fiction writer, has also given me much encouragement over coffee or breakfast and helped lift my spirits when things were not going well for my career.

7.  I live in an apartment near First and Tabor in Prince George. Prince George is a gritty lumber and pulp mill town, as well as a rail centre. Little thought is given to architectural continuity, although a couple of buildings around city hall are nice, the college and university are at least architecturally interesting and there are some nice parks.

8. What is your favourite restaurant or cafe in the North? Where is it? Why is it your favourite?
On a limited income, I tend to go to the Ritz Bakery in the 200 block of Brunswick Street for coffee or soup, the Second Cup in the Parkwood mall for coffee and the occasional snack, or Tim Horton’s downtown or on Eighth Avenue for a coffee and sandwich or chili. Occasionally I go to Riverstone Bar and Grill near Fifteenth and The Bypass, the BX at Fifth and Carney or Kelly O’Bryan’s near Second and Brunswick. I like the people who work at the Ritz Bakery and the Second Cup and the people I meet in those coffee shops, but there are friendly people everywhere.

9. What is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in the north? Why?
I like crows. They squawk and caw when the weather is miserable, such as during freezing rain with high winds, and they can do so without being considered whiners. They can imitate a wide range of sounds. Some say they have the intelligence of, say, a three-year-old child.
10. Has living in northern B.C. informed, affected or influenced your writing or art? If so, please let us know a bit about how.
Brian Fawcett’s descriptions of northern locations in his writings have influenced my view of the North, as has Barry McKinnon’s poetry. I like to use northern B.C. place names in my fiction.
Calvinist and workaholic attitudes still predominant in Prince George and district have been a shock. Attitudes expressed in the workplace, and then comments directed toward people who have been asked to leave full-time employment, are hard to understand. People blame the unemployed for being out of work. This blasphemous Satanic idolatry of work is out of hand. I have tried to address some of these concerns in my protest poetry.
I read my own poetry and translations of Spanish and German poetry at Other Art and Cappuccino in the early 1990s. I wrote a short story during that time entitled, “When the Aesthetes Visited Prince George.” It imagined what the reaction would be if late nineteenth-century British and Irish writers visited the Prince George of the 1990s.

11. What is your favourite place in the North? (town, hangout or wild place)
I can’t think of any one place. An asphalt trail in College Heights that leads from the grounds of the former Gladstone Elementary School down to a canyon with a small stream is one place I like to retreat to. I like the back trails at Otway when I am cross-country skiing. I have visited the Ancient Forest east of Prince George a couple of times and have enjoyed the view from there to the mountains to the North.  I like McBride and the immediate surrounding area: it’s so scenic it could be in Austria or Switzerland.

Published in: on April 27, 2010 at 2:27 am  Comments (4)  

Vivien Lougheed

I lived with my Romanian/Polish grandparents for the first eight years of my life on a farm in Northern Saskatchewan. Everything I did from getting stuck in the mud to wringing the rooster’s neck was to my grandparents’ liking. When I was five we moved to Winnipeg so I could live with my mother, and go to a city school and learn English. I liked the English part but wasn’t too sure about my mother. She worked all day and went dancing at night. But Grandma made me rice pudding for lunch and Grandpa bought me a bicycle so I could explore the city.

After my grandparents left me and returned to the farm, my home life wasn’t to my liking so at age 16 I hit the road and eventually found the Rocky Mountains where I fell in love — with rock and ice and wilderness. I settled in Prince George in 1970 where I spent a long time raising kids and finishing my education, which I had abandoned as a kid. I became a laboratory technologist with a specialty in Chemistry. Every spare day or week or month I had to myself, I traveled or hiked or canoed and photographed everything I saw.

My first husband, wanting a different life style than me traded me in for a younger, quieter version and drove off in his truck camper. A few years later, I met John, a local writer and part time college professor. We teamed up; I fed him material to write about and he forced me to write. He also encouraged me to explore the exotic places I had dreamed about as a child. I went willingly and sent my stories back to Canada. After doing an edit and adding a few fictions, John had them published in the local newspaper.

He also encouraged me to write Central America by Chickenbus, which we self-published. It was a cut-and-paste, photocopied chapbook that the Vancouver Sun enthusiastically promoted. Within five years the third edition had grown into a 500-page tome that was sold internationally. Since then, I have published a dozen guidebooks, mostly with an American firm, plus a travel story about my illegal trip through Tibet and a traveler’s history of Bolivia. The books have been a highway to hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, all of which have been edited by John.

At present, I have a local story sitting on a publisher’s desk, just begging to be accepted. While I wait, I am working on the obligatory Canadian novel, traveling and selling as many magazine stories and photos as possible. I would like to master the art of writing fiction — maybe to the level of Alice Munroe.

Living in the Prince George area with its low population density is for the most part, to my liking. The area is central to numerous mountain ranges; mountains that are still inundated with grizzlies and caribou and moose.

But living in a sparsely populated area is also a challenge for me because there isn’t the schmoozing going on that there is in bigger cities, where writers help writers, where writers are enthused about the art and spend hours over a beer discussing the craft.

When I do get the chance to talk shop with out of town guests, I go to the Achillion Restaurant where I get authentic Greek food that is always consistent in portion and flavor, where my favorite wine is always on the table when I arrive and where I can sit for hours without being offered my bill and an open exit door.

So that’s my marriage to Prince George. If my short biography has enticed you at all, please go to my blog, and read a few of my adventures, make a comment, enjoy the photos and tell your friends. Be warned though that if you post a miserable comment, I’ll tip your canoe whenever you paddle past.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm  Comments (6)  

Rob Budde

Rob Budde teaches Creative Writing and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Northern BC and has taught previously at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. He has published seven books (four poetry—Catch as Catch, traffick, Finding Ft. George, and declining america, two novels—Misshapen and The Dying Poem, and short fiction–Flicker). In 2002, Rob facilitated a collection of interviews (In Muddy Water: Conversations with 11 Poets). He has been a finalist for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer and the McNally-Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year. In 1995, Budde completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary. Finding Ft. George is a collection of poems about Rob’s growing relationship with Prince George and Northern BC. He is currently working on a science fiction novel called The Overcode and a book of poems about a character named “Poem” called Poem’s Poems. Rob lives in Prince George with his partner, Debbie Keahey and four children: Robin, Erin, Quinlan, and Anya.  

Rob posts community art & culture events at the culture mill ( and his poetry at writingwaynorth (

 Poem’s Poem of Love

Not saying the word reliably, historically

like weather or the knots

in thinking around

emotional language, tangled

in this bright mid-day moment (of reading)

and the medium

and a pronoun . . .

And “you” is never easy—

a striated sign of things

to come and counter

to the sense of sentence, its ease

and assurance—so the word

“with” becomes still uneasier and

I walk into the sunlit room,

poem in hand, a proximity,

molecular and climatic,

twined and tugging tight

half listening to the news

of storms forming

over the warming oceans . . .

A deligitimized ground, standing

there, as if through a semblance

of scientific instrumentation, who

is who’s target is the question and

the water line wavers in the

refracted calculations–you look up your altitude

in an archaic book of symbols,

you look up and tell me we need

to flee . . .

Love is resistant to anti-

biotics, bodies react to themselves

and become something else; later

we hear 21st century love retreated from the coasts,

subsided in the mountains, subsisted

on salmon and berries . . .

We read “red” in the remaining

records, and “faith”—but these

codes fail, these letters fall still, cars by the side

of the highway house

sparrows and squirrels,

a reorganized polis . . .

And I’d like to think

of us, by the side of the derelict

highway, bereft and happy,

a fistful of yarrow and a wooden cup of tea

but the future tense may

not be love’s love sprung

from the old language

1.    Please describe your writing/ art?

I write our of questions and the writing becomes an act of discovery. I like moving between styles and modes. I don’t want to pinned down as a certain type of writer. Everything I do in writing, and outside it, is to promote creativity in everything we do. Without poetry I would die.

2.    what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?

The artistic / writing success of my students gives me the most joy.

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?

I am stuck on my cyberpunk novel (though it is not a true cyberpunk because it is utopian rather than dystopic) and would really like to take a run at finishing that.

4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why?

Northern BC offers a place to be creative that is unencumbered by many of the aesthetic pressures that I found in Winnipeg and Calgary (and see when I visit Vancouver). It has a supportive community and a ‘rawness’ that contributes to original artwork and writing.

5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC?

Many of the trappings of ‘success’ in writing involves publishing contracts and grants, and those are harder to get up here because we are out-of-sight-out-of-mind. We find ways though.

6.    are there are other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you?  (if so, why?)

Ken Belford has been my mentor since 2003.

7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).

I live on King Dr. off Tabor near the river and near Moore’s Meadow in Prince George in the middle of a beleaguered but rich subalpine boreal forest.

8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?

Cimo Mediterranean Grill is on Victoria Ave and Wayne Kitchen there does local and fresh really well.
9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why?

Devil’s club, Oplopanax horridus, Hoolhghulh. Because it is a boss plant.

10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.

Politically, being here has infused my writing in all sorts of ways; urban / rural issues, regionalism, ecocriticism, class, and the particulars of the place (topography, animals, plants, etc) have all entered my writing. But not always. Much of writing is still about other books.

11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place)

Last July went to Haida Gwaii and climbed Tow Hill.

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 8:43 pm  Comments (4)  

Lynda Williams

Science Fiction author Lynda Williams lives in Quesnel, B.C. during the week but can usually be found in Prince George, B.C. on the weekends visiting with her family. This is because after 15 years with the University of Northern B.C. in P.G. Lynda took a management position as associate regional director of the College of New Caledonia in Quesnel and hasn’t sorted out the complications of having kids in high school yet. Born and raised in Prince George, but having lived for ten years in Ontario where commuting over an hour every day wasn’t a big deal, Lynda figures it’s just another example of her mild eccentricity. Lynda’s magnum opus is a ten novel, space operatic saga featuring larger-than-life characters belonging to the bioengineered race known as Sevolites who have thrived in her imagination since childhood. The sixth book in the series will be released by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy of Calgary in April 2009. Lynda also edits a series of anthologies set in the universe featuring stories by other writers, has published short stories online and in print, produced the northern B.C. online journal “Reflections on Water” for ten years, wrote for the Citizen Newspaper, and does a column for Cutbanks magazine. She is married to David Lott with three daughters: Jennifer, Angela and Tegan. 

Reality Skimming is the name of the main Okal Rel Universe blog. The easiest way to find it is to google “Reality Skimming”. It can also be found via

The Okal Rel Universe has a page on facebook that everyone is welcome to join.  Lynda also uses Twitter where she tweats something from the Okal Rel saga every day, one page at a time. She is currently working her way through Part 1: The Courtesan Prince.

                “I hunted up Von’s poetry,” D’Ander answered, stone-cold sober. “That’s why I wasn’t at H’Reth Manor when Prince Taran was attacked. I went looking for princesses with good judgment who had watched Von dance.”

                Di Mon felt as if he had stepped, unprepared, into a Demish parlor game where the stakes were much, much too high.

                “Don’t you see?” D’Ander counted off points on a big, splayed hand. “Von is a gifted poet, a performing artist — ”

                Vretla, Di Mon thought dryly, might agree on that score.

from “Part 1 of the Okal Rel Saga: The Courtesan Prince”  by Lynda Williams, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy (2005).

1.    Please describe your writing/ art? 

The Okal Rel Saga is brain candy for people who like passionate characters, strange but well-thought out cultures and dramatized ethical dilemmas. The challenges arise from culture clash and the potential of science to change human beings and the societies they live in. But the stories recycle familiar archetypes and are full of love, conflict and sword fights. The Sevolite characters are, themselves, the products of biotechnology although they deny it and have created a pseudo-feudal social system underpinned by religious beliefs which are all variations on Okal Rel – a doctrine for permitting conflict without destroying precious, life sustaining worlds.  On the Reetion side of the universe natural humans govern themselves via the agency of benign but impersonal artificial intelligences. Sevolites are superstitious about bio-science. Reetions are humanists who rely on science. The saga is built around the life of Amel, a 100% Sevolite born heir to the empire who is raised as a commoner. Amel kicks off the series in Part 1: The Courtesan Prince, when an inept plot by his unsavory master throws him into the company of a Reetion pilot named Ann – the woman featured on the cover.  A couple sentences describing each of the ten books is online at
2.    what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date? 

The way young readers I’ve had contact with, in high schools, have taken to the series and got “into” the characters. I hadn’t expected this to happen. I was leery about it at first, in fact, because I deal with topics like torture and sex abuse in places. But it’s wonderful. Throne Price is the darkest book,  and was definitely written for an adult audience. Even the first three books are challenging because no one is utterly bad or utterly good and the stories overlap in time, showing the same events from different perspectives. But I think we underestimate teenagers sometimes. They can enjoy books written at an adult level readily if the characters and situations motivate them.

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish? 

I want to broaden exposure to the Okal Rel Saga, once the saga is finished, and complete the ten companion anthologies that go alone with it, as well a handful of novellas that take care of side stories that have cropped up over the years. I also have some other ideas, but I think I’ll wait and see who I in 2012 when the saga is scheduled to be complete, in print.

4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why? 

You can live close enough to where you work that you can go home for lunch. People know each other. In Quesnel, total strangers will still talk to each other the way I remember things being when I was young, in Prince George. It’s home, as well. It’s hard to explain exactly why or how I feel that, but it’s always been home. I like driving in Northern B.C. especially with someone to talk to or an audio book playing.  The length of time it takes to drive between cities is roughly comparable to how long my characters fly between worlds in the saga. I wrote a blog entry on “Reality Skimming” once about that.

5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC? 

For a writer, the biggest disadvantage is not being close to a literary scene that’s compatible or to marketing opportunities that reach a larger public. I go to two cons a year, but there’s so much more I could do to support my publisher more and spread the footprint of the saga if I was in, say, Vancouver. Or Toronto.
6.    are there are other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you?  (if so, why?) 

I used to be feel left of out of the literary scene in Prince George because of my genre. That changed over the last few years. Robert Budde and Dee Horne at UNBC have been important to me as a writer. When I read Rob’s book, Misshapen,  I felt for the first time that it was going to start being okay to be a speculative writer in the north. And just last year I discovered and befriended historical fantasy author Nathalie Mallet of Prince George who writes world-class adventure books set in quasi-historical settings.  Virginia O’Dine was a founding member of the NorSpec Writers group launched by myself and Elizabeth Woods, who has since started Bundoran Press.  All the people who have edited or written or done art for Okal Rel Universe anthologies have a special place in my heart, of course. Locally, this includes Elizabeth  Woods, Sarah Trick, Virginia O’Dine, Krysia Anderson, Mel Farrow, Amanda DaSilva,  Michelle Milburn  and Hal Friesen (since moved away).  I like many kinds of writing as a reader, and I’ve sampled well known local fare such as Vivien Lougheed’s Tibetan travel book Fobidden Mountains and books by writers like Bev Christensen and Jack Boudreau. I am particularly fond of poet/playwright Michael Armstrong,  poet Jacqueline Baldwin and literary writer Betsy Trumpener.

7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).

At the moment I’m living in a small trailer in South Quesnel which I call “the hovel”.  I’ve only been in Quesnel for a month but I already know that the community support for the North Cariboo Community Campus where both CNC and UNBC are located, is pretty awesome. Ed Coleman has made a particularly big impression on me. My husband and two younger daughters still live in Prince George, B.C. I grew up in Prince George and returned there after doing two masters degrees in Ontario and working for a short while in the Toronto software industry. Northern B.C. is a great place to raise a young family.

8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?

There are fancier places to eat, of course, but my all time favorite restaurant is Cafe Voltaire in Books & Company in Prince George. I’m getting to know Granville Coffee in Quesnel, too.  I was fond of the Empress Tea House on Nicholson Street in Prince George, too. It’s now on Brunswick and I haven’t visited since it moved.

9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why? 

Deer. It’s no fun finding bears in the parking lot, and even moose are a bit scary. But it always gives me a good feeling to see deer walking across campus either when I worked in Prince George or here in Quesnel.

10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.

People say to write what you know. It used to make me nuts because what I wanted to write about was a story set on far away planets a thousand years in the future. But everything I’ve ever been or done has been grist for the mill in creating the Okal Rel universe and the place where I’ve lived most of my life is no exception. The most obvious example is the connection between reality skimming – my method of faster than light travel – and driving northern B.C. roads. But I’m sure there are many others.

11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place) 

Books & Company again. Never was much for the great outdoors despite my northern roots. My dad used to make me traipse around in the bush with him when I was young, and what I remember most is getting eaten alive by black flies and mosquitoes.

12.   Please share anything else you feel/ believe is important to share about northern BC in 200 words or less.

Always felt that if there wasn’t something there ought to be, a handful of dedicated people could make it happen. I had that experience founding the freenet in Prince George in the early 90s.

13.  do you have a dream for or relating to the north and if so, what is it?

I think the north is growing up. Over the next few decades the population will swell and the economy will become more diversified. I hope that as the North becomes more sophisticated, it will manage to retain the art of just living. And develop sound, sustainable solutions for maintaining the beauty of the region as well as growing more food here, perhaps by means of improved agricultural practices for small scale production options.

Published in: on December 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Joylene Nowell Butler


Joylene Nowell Butler, author of Dead Witness has lived in the Prince George Bulkley Nechako area since 1979. She belongs to several online writers’ groups, such as Deadly Prose, Garret Group, Muse Conference Board, and Novels-L. Joylene has been writing for 26 years and has published many creative writing articles online and nationally. Her second novel Broken But Not Dead is due to be released by Theytus Books in 2011. For the past 18 months, Joylene has dedicated her blog to promoting exceptional writers published and unpublished across the globe.

Dead Witness book description:
Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.
excerpt from my blog, titled: 

Is loving an animal supposed to be heart-wrenching?

Every so often life gets in the way of writing. And it makes you stop and think about stuff other than… well, writing. Last week my neighbour called. She works nights so we don’t see each other as often as I’d like. She’s one of those special people, the kind that would give you her last loaf of bread or cup of coffee. A genuine person. Someone I liked right from the start.

I knew as soon as I heard her voice that something was wrong. She asked if my husband was home. He wasn’t. I said, “What’s wrong?” then waited for what I knew would be bad news. There’s a voice that people inevitably use when they’re hurting. Even if they try hard not to, you recognize the pain. I’ve looked into the face of someone smiling and seen it.

But this was over the phone; that’s how clear her pain was.

“Cajun can’t walk.”
1.    Please describe your writing/ art? 
I write full length suspense thrillers that take place anywhere from Cluculz Lake to a collective farm in Russia. My themes centre around the complexities of the child-parent relationship
2.    what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date? 
Finishing my novel Dead Witness, and receiving such great reviews from my readers. 

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish? 

I’m currently working on my 6th novel. I’ve yet to be on Oprah’s Reading List; that would definitely be a blast. But honestly, I’m grateful for the sheer pleasure of writing.
4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why? 
Apart from northern BC being beautiful, its clean air, good people, and the simpler life are the things I love most. 
5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC? 
Being so far from Toronto and Vancouver has its downside. I’m unable to attend writers’ conference or knock on the doors of major publishing houses. And book readings. It would be wonderful to attend a reading by Stephen King, John Irving, or Margaret Atwood, to name a few.
6.    are there are other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you?  (if so, why?)
My dear friend and mentor Bridget Moran is sorely missed. There isn’t enough space here to describe what her writing meant to me. She was not only an exceptionally gifted writer, but a terrific human being. She cared about the less fortunate but in a respectful and kind way. Bridget was a wonderful person.  
7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).
We live in a log-stick house, 25’ ceilings with a loft. We have three floors of glass windows in the living room that overlook Cluculz Lake. It’s not a large home, but there’s a fireplace, logs, hardwood floors and a view to die for. I couldn’t be happier.
8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?
I loved Lakeside Resort. We always ran into friends and hanging out at the pub felt more like being in someone’s rec-room. It was a sad day the night it burned down. Going for dinner at Lakeside on a Friday night was fun. It gave me a chance to visit with friends from the neighbours. Oh, and the food was delicious.
9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why? 
I love the loons, but I have to say the eagles are my favourite. I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked up from my computer only to come eye-to-eye with their majestic presence. There’s something very special when an eagle keeps eye contact in the seconds it takes for him to glide past. He’s not frightened or even curious. It’s more like, “I respect your existence. Thank you for respecting mine.” 
10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.
Good question. The Internet has made the world a smaller place. I’ve met fascinating people from all over the world. But when I see my home through their eyes, and realize how fortunate I am to live where the water is clean, the sky brilliant blue, I am speechless with gratitude. I can walk through the neighbourhood and drive at night without fear. I have the freedom to write whatever, whenever and however I want. I’m not censored or punished or ridiculed for my stories. And that, sadly, is not the case for many writers around the world. To be Canadian from Northern BC is a gift that I don’t take lightly, and I try to show that in some aspect of my writing. 
11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place) 
Cluculz Lake is the best of both worlds. I’m 68 km from Prince George if I need equipment, groceries or a night at the theatre. I’m 38 km from Vanderhoof if I need supplies. The winters mean jumping on a skidoo right outside my door. The lake freezes and the scene is breathtakingly pristine, beautiful, serene. In summer, Cluculz hosts kids of all ages, screaming with delight, swimming, fishing, boating. It’s busier, but just as beautiful. We watch the sunset in the winter and watch it rise in the summer. Loons nest out front. Eagles soar by our window. Moose swim across the water. Beavers build damns. Otters slide across the ice. Where else can you stand at the window and be entertained all day long?  

12.   Please share anything else you feel/ believe is important to share about northern BC in 200 words or less. 

We use rifles for food. Life is simpler, but it’s also harder. We have to create our own cultural events. We leave the protection of our homes in the winter to travel on dangerous highways to visit with family and friends. We know our neighbours because one day it might mean our salvation. We fight for everything we have because we live where it’s easy for them to forget we exist. When the government makes cuts in the budget, rest assured we’re the first on their list. Yet through it all, we choose this lifestyle because we believe in nature, the environment, and a safer way of life for our children. I think it’s important that we record this way of life so it’s not lost in the shuffle. We’re like nobody else. How many times has Hollywood pretended that Toronto is NYC? Too many. And why? Because the similarities are uncanny. But Northern BC is a place unlike anywhere else, and we need to celebrate that uniqueness in any way possible.
13.  do you have a dream for or relating to the north and if so, what is it?
I would like to see more emphasis on the arts, particularly in school. While sports are indeed valuable, what if we had a centre of the arts devoted especially for children ages 6 – 18. More honours and more scholarships and more recognition, that’s my dream. 
Thanks, Mary. What you’re attempting to do is a very good thing. If I can help in any way, please let me know. I’m already hosting authors on virtual book tours, but I’m sure I can do more. I’m sending this along because if I don’t, I end up editing and revising until I cut the life out of it. 
Author of Dead Witness
Broken But Not Dead set to be released by Theytus Books 2011
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.” Standing Bear
Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 4:56 am  Comments (8)  

Al Rempel

In Reverse
by Al Rempel

work backwards from a long smoke
from the grey-clouded swirl into the bowl
gathered up in flame first, then unlit
tobacco — this the air sucked clean down
the pipe, this the slow exhale in reverse
the lips pursed and the teeth clamped
cheeks slacken, the tongue curious and moist
and finally, the pipe laid in a box

don’t you wish you could pack up
the universe this way, tidy the galaxies
and stuff the dark matter into a pouch?
never worry about fires again? take the way
things are between you and I, can’t we
just unwind the strands of smoke
before it churns to haze? I bet

we’d all be jamming our boxes
and pouches full, filling the shelves
without bothering even to label things
and whistling some god-awful tune
while we wash our hands afterwards

Al Rempel is currently an alternate teacher in Prince George,
where he lives with his wife and daughter. His poems have been
anthologized in 4 Poets, Rocksalt, Half in the Sun, and The Forestry
Diversification Project, as well as in journals such as The Malahat
Review, GRAIN, and stonestone (on-line). He has a book of poetry
forthcoming with Caitlin Press (Spring 2010). 

1. Please describe your writing/ art

I write poems.

2. what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?

Being published in 4 Poets, an anthology of four emerging BC poets by Mother Tongue Publishing

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?

Writing the next poem will always be my goal – I’ve discovered that writing is what’s important to me — and getting poems published is the happy by-product.

 4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why?

That you can run a poetry reading in the middle of winter and 30 people will still come out to hear you

 5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC?


6.    how do other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists inspire you?  

All writers and artists inspire me for the same reason – they’re writing, painting, sculpting, etc. They are engaging with their craft and the world around them and themselves – what more can we ask?

 7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).

Right around Red Rock, when you’re travelling north on Highway 97, you catch a glimpse of Tabor Mountain topped by a few towers – this is the start of the place I call home, with it’s spindly trees and wide sky – it extends north to about Summit Lake, east to the mountains at Purden, and west to Bednesti Lake or perhaps closer.

 8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?

 Amigos on Quebec Street in PG – the best spicy Mexican food in town

 9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why?

On my first visit to the north, I saw a magpie and was amazed at its colours; it belongs to the corvid family (crows and ravens) and so shares their intelligence, their uncanny ability to survive, and their trickster ways.   

 10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.

Yes, but anywhere I chose to live would do that – place matters if you want to be ‘here’. Specifically, PG offers a unique mix of wilderness, suburbia, and inner-city, and all of it has seeped into my poems. And of course winter.

 11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place)

  The path along the cut-banks of the Fraser.

 12.   Please share anything else you feel/ believe is important to share about northern BC in 200 words or less.

There once was a massive lake that was left by the last ice-age, and it extended as far south as the Devil’s Fence-posts near the Marguerite ferry on Highway 97S. It most likely drained north (there is very little land between us and the arctic watershed) until it let loose and carved out the Fraser Canyon to the south, leaving a lake-bottom of sand that became our cut-banks and Connaught and Carney hills. The old river-benches of the various waterways the Nechako and Fraser made since then are etched into the landscape all over town, if you take the time to notice them.

 13.  do you have a dream for or relating to the north and if so, what is it?

It would be wonderful to have a space for writers to meet and to read their work to the public.  It would be great to have a place for all artists – a version of Vancouver’s Granville Island, perhaps – a village of guilds that could connect with tourism and the university and the local market and the various parks and walkways scattered throughout PG.

Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Audrey L’Heureux


Audrey L'Heureux

My writing career covers over 45 years, starting with stringing for The Prince George Citizen newspaper as a photojournalist from Vanderhoof in the early 1960’s; reporting, then editing, then owning/publishing Vanderhoof Nechako Chronicle. I would also edit Smithers Interior News, then also Alcan’s smeltersite newspaper, The Ingot. Following a second marriage to Ed L’Heureux in 1976 I researched an historical manuscript on North Central BC with the aid of a Canada Council Grant. I would later self publish (Northern B.C. Book Publishing)  two small books from this manuscript of the From Trail to Rail  series — from Alexander Mackenzie’s voyage of discovery, in 1793 to the completion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, 1914. North Central BC history  became a way of life for me over a fifteen year period, researching, buying, selling and reading  antiquarian books, publishing and then marketing. My writing experience also contributed to a ten year period when I was active in building and administration of the Vanderhoof Museum,  as well as a three year term I spent on a provincial government board, Senior’s Advisory Council.     My efforts in visual art has also been an important factor in my life.  It pleased me to do large pictures in all kinds of media that quite readily brought me $400 each in the 1990’s, but later paintings have been traded for tax receipts and given as family gifts.    

1.  Please describe your writing/art?
        My writing and my art have one thing in common, the subject matter is local. Creating these works might be called an obsession…a desire to conquer the mood as part of my spirituality.  Being a  Unitarian,  I seek peace and satisfaction by expressing myself.
2.   What is the writing/artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?
        Taking the Nechako Chronicle newspaper in Vanderhoof from the edge of bankruptcy and re-establishing it as a going concern. This involved being invited to be bankrolled by the Bank of Commerce in 1967; when I was a woman, broke and separated from my husband.
3.   What are a couple of your (specific) writing/artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?
        Last year I wrote a 5,000 word article called `North Central BC, History and Me,’  for publication in a book about women in the North, called for by Caitlin Publishing. In my opinion this article had particular value, because, on looking back I realized the period I was reporting, editing and publishing the Nechako Chronicle(which I had archives on), the 60’s and 70’s represented the major growing period for the North Central Interior . From Alcan’s smeltersite to Peace River Dam; from the Fraser Lake molybdenum mine to completion of the railway to Fort St. James; from the creating of Prince George pulp mills to huge sawmills in Vanderhoof and Houston.  This Caitlin publication has not happened to date, however.
4.   What do you love most about northern BC and why?
        The phenomenal routes of its rivers with tentacles in all directions that converge on Prince George  excites me. It offered accommodation to our courageous and honourable early explorers.
        More currently, though, Prince George is one of the best places in BC for seniors to live. At 85 years I appreciate the five senior’s societies offering a hot noon meal, many different activities and sociability.    I appreciate a good public transit system and subsidized taxi service, inexpensive housing, good health care and learning opportunities help, too.
5.   What are the biggest challenges about livingin northern BC?
    Mostly the winter weather hazards and dark days.
6.   Are there other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you? (If so, why?)
    Yes! Rich and Gloria Hobson were my closest friends over a forty year period. We knew Rich when he was putting his stories into writing and after he had his three world-wide, best seller books published – Grass Beyond the Mountains, Nothing Too Good For a Cowboy and Rancher Takes a Wife.  I learned that it was not academics that necessarily created a well received author, but the story telling abilities.
    This also applied when I first carried Olive Fredrickson’s Silence of the North book in serial form in the Nechako Chronicle.  Olive was near to being illiterate, but her stoies were spell binding.
 7.   In 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).
    I live in a condo in downtown Prince George where family in Vanderhoof and Williams Lake can easily visit.   There is sociability and a hot meal daily next door at a senior’s centre.  My home offers easy access to stores, hospital and other services.
8.   What’s your favourite restaurant/cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?
    My favourite restaurant is `Ricki’s’ in Redwood Square; they serve bacon and eggs anytime, many of my firends stop there, and it is on my bus route.
9.  What is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in North?  Why?
    My favourite wild creature would be the Canada Goose because it makes a good subject for art, from any angle.  I also must say that ants fascinate me very much.
10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.
    Northern B.C. is my ultimate subject for both writing and art.  When, on occasion, I have moved away from the North, it haunts me and I have been driven to recognize that `I am a Northern gal.’  I must know; which way the rivers  flow, where the height of land is, what opportunities are there for Economic Development, are we letting history slip away?
11. What is your favorite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place)
    Today my favorite place in Northern B.C. is my own one bedroom condo.  I am glad that friends and family can visit easily.
 12. Please share anything else you feel/believe is important to share about northern BC in 200 words or less.
    Northern B.C. is one of the last frontiers.  Our seniors today built the country.  It has often been the unskilled worker that got a job with mills, logging, mining, pulp mill or agriculture, etc. and earned a good living and life style for a family. 
    People only come here if they are ready to work hard.  The country will test you.  As seniors we can be proud of what we have accompllished.
    When Forin Cambell came to Prince George as a surveyor in 1908 there were three people living here; when he died in the 1990’s there were 70,000 people here.
    Early surveyors for the Geological Society of Canada who combed every acre, looking for a route across Canada for the CPR, left a legacy of writing about the 1870’s decade  that is romantic, and at the same time is marked with unbelievable challenges. It tells of the phenomina created by remarkably easy access on the Yellowhead route, with no grade greater than 21′ to the mile.  The Crowsnest Pass, chosen for the CPR route had as much as 187′ grade to the mile.  What a story it all made.
    It also must be said that early exploration and the people that did it created a remarkable story about 200 years ago.
 13. do you have a dream for or relating to the north and if so, what is it?    …so glad you asked. . .
Let’s get away from the `no hope beyond Hope’ syndrome and lobby to have at least a couple of Ministeries from parliament in Vcitoria brought to Prince George.  BC topography  and politics calls for this.  With ferries so expensive and iffy; with Prince George real estate so  affordable, Health and learning so available, this should get good response to any such proposal.

A couple of active Historical Societies should be encouraged. History early and late is vanishing right in front of us, including proper designation of heritage buildings, trails and honouring people. This should be a win, win situation creating local pride, bringing in tourists and generating interesting attractions. e.g. Fort St. James could generate great interest by  preparing displays and archives for research featuring air traffic; slide shows showing the wonders that Russ Baker and Grant McConachie accomplished by establishing  Pacific Western Airlines and Canadian Pacific Airlines. The excitement generated from travels of our early explorers — trails, recreating routes, re-enactments of key events, etc. would be interesting and educating. Since much of these occurances took place in the Upper Fraser River Basin, that region should be called on to recognize this and consider levying a small tax for cultural development to support these Historical Societies.  A reference could be the first rate `Lewis and Clark Trail’ in USA.  Another ref. would be to google Pacific Western Airlines–  all types of the many planes used are shown there, as are records of all employees.

Prince George needs a world class exhibit–I would like to see the Two Rivers Art Gallery given to First Nations–their art is what tourists want to see and given time, it could come about.

The wonders of BC topography has been best addressed, I feel, in the huge Challenger Map created for exhibition in the PNE.  One of the art gallery rooms might be able to house such an attraction. We could copy their idea and scupt a topographical map of BC.  See Challenger Map on google-up to date information.  Would the bug killed, blue pine be suitable to make this map? Maybe this is one way the wonders of our Northern geography would be well displayed.  It should come aboard as a tourist attraction, but also with support and connecting studies with UNBC and CNC.  Besides celebrating events, it could identify key areas, such as tribal lands of First Nations, bug-kill areas, you name it.

Encouragement of the recently announced `connector road’ from Mckenzie to Fort St. James, would allow a `Circle’ tour from Prince George that could bring much of this together.


Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 1:29 am  Comments (2)  

coming soon. . .

well the first responses from northern BC writers & artists are starting to come in so hope to have the first post up within the week!  please put a comment here if you are a northern BC writer or artist and want to participate in the blog!   . . .  and I look forward to getting your info to share with others here.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm  Comments (2)  

Welcome to northern BC writers’ & artists’ wonderful world of blog

Welcome to this new blogsite for northern BC writers & artists — over the next months or years (depending on how much response I receive) I will be posting northern BC based writers’ and artists’ responses to a series of questions I will send to them by email.

The goals of this blogsite:

1. to create a venue where people can find out who the writers/ artists are in northern BC — there is an abundance of talented people in northern BC!

2. for writers & artists to share a bit about themselves & their perspectives on northern BC.

I have lived in northern BC most of my life (with a short 11 year blip away living in Victoria & elsewhere) – I grew up in Vanderhoof and currently live in Prince George BC where there is no shortage of incredible writing and artistic talent.

I look forward to meeting you here in blog-land.   By the way if you are a writer or artist with northern BC residence or connections, haven’t heard from me and are interested in participating, please jot down a comment here and I will get back to you asap. . .   hopefully, you will hear from me one way or another : )

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 5:48 am  Comments (3)  

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Published in: on November 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm  Comments (2)