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, chickenbustales.blogspot.com 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.

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

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anyone who knows you will know that this blog only scratches the surface of your most interesting life, and they will certainly want to look at your own blog for the rest of the story.

    I am interested in knowing more about the “local story that is sitting on a publisher’s desk”.

    Margaret Johnston

    • Hey Margaret – The local story has been rejected by two publishers now. Boo hoo. I’m feeling like a fake! But …. with JH prodding me, I shall send out queries and samples to every publisher I can find.

      I just got back from Vietnam and Cambodia. What noise that was!!! Maybe we can meet for coffee with Patty Stewart soon. Cheers – Viv

  2. Interesting blog Viv. I am poor at travel writing and I envy you. But I write a lot of humour and medical stories. My new book comes out in April with Caitlin Press – 37 stories set mostly in central BC and a few in Alabama – “A Wake Up Call – medical tales from around the world.” My first book was called “Bloody Practice.” I have a book of poetry out to JackPine Press, SK – but no green light yet.
    My friend and very good poet, Al Rempel, writes and teaches school in PG. Perhaps you know Al?

    • HI Sterling – Yes I know Al Remple more by name than as a personal friend. I was once in the medical field (30+ years ago!) so will look for your books. Like travel stories, medical stories can bring so many smiles. The difference in the medical field is that without humour one is dead!

      I just got back from Cambodia and Vietnam so am still trying to adjust to the new hours. But that comes with the turf – sort of like doing night calls at the hospital.

      Cheers – viv

  3. What a fascinating life you’ve led, Vivien. Your story is inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I’m off to paddle as fast as I can.

    • Hey Joylene – Paddle already? That is good news. I just got back from Vietnam and Cambodia so am trying to catch up on things like Access Copyright updates – what a chore that is!!

      Cheers for now. Viv


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