Photographic Memory at River Ridge Seniors Centre

On Friday, June 6, I had the pleasure of meeting with a dozen residents in the colourful art studio at River Ridge. The workshop was part of an outreach program sponsored by the Creative Age Festival and allowed me to connect with these lovely folks from Memory Lane, a unit that caters to people with different levels of dementia. We had a great time drinking coffee, eating snacks, sharing laughs, and looking at photos from their amazing lives to come up with inspiration for character, setting, plot, and theme in various writing genres. At the end of the session, the artist in residence, Carly, suggested we work together to brainstorm details from one photo. I chose the following image from a series I discovered online, and these creative minds came up with great ideas, some drawn from their own experiences (Uncle Frank, sen-sen candies) and others out of their imaginations. IMG_6865 IMG_6864 The Creative Expression Director at River Ridge, Nicole Collyer, was kind to say the following: “I just wanted to say  THANK YOU for sharing your workshop with our residents and staff.  They definitely had a wonderful time. It was nice to see the collaboration between you and Carly to help our residents get the most out of the Art Workshop.” p.s. Thanks to Christina for her help as well!

#yeghistory talent: Rebecca Lappa and the Elephant Stampede of 1926

Wednesday, June 11 at 6pm
Friday, June 13 at 8pm
at The Living Room Playhouse

created, composed and performed by Rebecca Lappa

In 1926, the Sells Floto Circus parade turned into a full on stampede in down town Edmonton as a herd of elephants escaped from their enclosures.  Singer-songwriter Rebecca Lappa returns to the Azimuth stage after last year’s Nextfest hit “The Earl” to perform all nineteen characters in this one-woman folk opera based on a true, local story.


The War to End All Wars: Resources

With the 100th anniversary of the First World War upon us, I’ve had the privilege to research and think about this conflict in more depth than I have since I wandered around Montreal and Ottawa in undergrad snapping photos of war memorials. I was following in the footsteps of historian Jonathan Vance, whose wonderful book, Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning, and the First World War, helped put me on the path to a career in history. Here are a few resources I recently turned to, to understand the “Great War” (and how we remember it) in all its complexity:


I also found the CBC’s Michael Enright’s collected conversations on the topic incredibly interesting when I heard it on a recent edition of Ideas. What’s your favourite WWI book, film, radio documentary, or other resource?

Shrink Rays and Airplanes: City Hall School

On Monday I got the chance to hang out with the Grade One’s from John A. McDougall school for an hour. It was so much fun!


First we listened to coordinator/instructor Linda Hut take us on a historic walk of downtown Edmonton, with great factoids about everything from City Hall to the Alberta Hotel to an inclined railway up the hill.

Then it was my turn to give a mini-talk about what the “history lady” (aka Historian Laureate does) and share a few stories about Edmonton’s aviation history. It was a blast chatting with them about “parapups”, some of our first aviatrixes, and Wop May’s involvement in stopping the Mad Trapper.

Plus we got to talk about shrink rays, space grass, and fighter planes flying through Edmonton. A pretty awesome way to start the week and I can’t wait for the Citizenship Fair next Friday!


I’m a sticker! How cool is that? The kids get to put this in their journal (and I got to as well!).


2014 Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame Dinner in Calgary

As Cmdr Chris Hadfield said in his speech, too often fame and celebrity is bestowed on those who don’t deserve it. Hadfield, that Canadian commander of the International Space Station who stole our hearts with his tweets, spaced-out songs, and gorgeous photos of Earth, was absolutely right when he said this year’s inductees deserved to be feted to the max in this era of celebutantes.

Chris and DMC_edited

Clive Beddoe, Lorna de Blicquy, Fred Moore, and Bob Engle characterize the kind of vision, passion, and tenacity Hadfield says should command our respect and admiration.

Blain and DMC

Me with Blain Fowler, Chairman of the CAHF Operations Committee.

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, two of the inductees – de Blicquy and Engle – are in my upcoming book as pioneers of northern flight. Such a pleasure to be in the same room as them (or their spirits, as deBlicquy was honoured post-humously). It was also pretty neat to see Chris again, be surrounded by the luminati of aviation history, and have a chance to get fancied up.

For more info on the inductees and evening, please visit 

Aviation author selfie: Anne Gafiuk, me and Elinor Florence

Aviation author selfie: Anne Gafiuk, me and Elinor Florence


Me with hall of famer Rosella Bjornson (first woman jet pilot in Canada), and author Anne Gafiuk

Me with hall of famer Rosella Bjornson (first woman jet pilot in Canada), and author Anne Gafiuk

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