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.

 

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

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Nice to see a familiar face here, already, Audrey.

  2. Audrey, you are a gem. Hope life’s treating you well. Miss your wonderful humour. Have the best Christmas ever! You’re still my inspiration.


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