I just gave a workshop “Writing History into Your Work” at this year’s Creative Nonfiction Collective conference at the beautiful Banff Centre for the Arts!
The conference lineup this year also included:
- Keynote speaker Karen Connelly
- Sessions with Tyler Trafford, Kate Braid, Cathy Ostlere, and Lynne Bowen
- A plenary called “What the heck is going on?” featuring Don Sedgwick (Transatlantic Literary Agency), Steven Ross Smith (Banff Centre), and Allison McNeely about the current status of digital publishing
- the ever-popular CNF cabaret and Reader’s Choice Awards
Anne Gafiuk, a colleague and participant in the workshop had this to say:
“Approximately fifty delegates came together to participate in workshops, readings, a plenary session, to hear a guest speaker, do some networking, learning, experience camaraderie and enjoy good food! Some people came all the way from Halifax and Nanaimo, plus many places in-between, including numerous writers from Alberta. At Danielle’s session, we shared what areas we were interested in and what tools we would need to accomplish our goals. I came away with more ideas and was also able to contribute a few, too. Before we knew it, our ninety minutes was over! We were so engaged; we all agreed we could have continued until noon. “
As I promised to Anne and the other participants, here’s some info to help you on your historic journey – and answers to those burning questions they brainstormed! Thanks to all who came out, participated, and contributed so much energy at 9am!
- portable scanner
- digital camera
- digital voice recorder
- notebook and pens/pencils
- memory stick/external hard drive
- Drop Box/Cloud
- transcription services
- empathy and a sense of humour
- Google and GoogleEarth
- David Rumsey Map Collection
- Twitter and Facebook
- Subject-specific sites (like aviation, for example)
- Local archives or museum
- Historical and genealogical societies
- Historian laureates (kind of like writers in residence)
- Universities or colleges
- Knowledgeable individuals
Historical Q&A’s (for the whole list about research, ethical issues, etc, please click here):
How do you work in history when you are not a historian?
I’m biased toward professional historians, because I’ve seen major differences between how historians and non-historians go about research and documentation, and between how journalists interview and historians conduct oral interviews.
A great example of a non-historian “doing history” is someone like Pierre Berton, who has been credited with popularizing Canadian History. He started out as a journalist and had a set of skills and experience in that field, and then moved into historical territory. There can be a lot of overlap, but I’ve spoken with professional historians who were his friends and gave him grief for his sometimes flippant attitude toward historical accuracy. It does sound like he got more and more careful as he went on (and employed many researchers, transcriptionists, and fact-checkers on his projects). I’m all for the democratization of history but I also believe in maintaining professional standards. It’s a tension I struggle with daily.
If you’re going to be a self-taught historian, I would recommend the following texts:
- Keith Jenkins: Re-thinking History
- The Craft of Research
- Oxford’s Writing History
- The Chicago Manual of Style
- Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide
- Colleen Fitzpatrick’s Forensic Genealogy
- Pierre Berton’s The Joy of Writing
And take courses, workshops or attend historical conferences whenever you can to learn new skills and hear different perspectives.
Women and girls get in FREE to the Alberta Aviation Museum on Sunday, March 10th as part of Women in Aviation week. Doors open at 10 a.m.
11 a.m. Women in Aviation (Polaris chapter) member will speak about getting her private pilot’s licence and her experiences in the sky
- Katherine Stinson: aerobatic demonstrations in 1916
- Eileen Vollick: First Canadian woman pilot
- Vi Milstead: First woman bush pilot
- Rosella Bjornson: First female jet captain in Canada and first female pilot hired by a Canadian airline
- Beyond the cockpit, women have been maintenance engineers, aircraft builders and servicers and held key high technology positions since the Second World War.
Jean Lauzon (780-451-1175)
Assistant Executive Director
Barry Crawford has dedicated much time and energy unearthing details about relative Melvin B. Wright, and making sure his memory is not forgotten. This is Melvin’s story:
Melvin was born in Inverness in the Eastern Townships of Quebec on October 30, 1947. He joined the U.S. Army in March of 1965 when he was 17 years old, becoming a “cross-border warrior”. After serving inEuropeand thePanama Canal Zone, he volunteered for service inVietnam. He arrived in South Vietnam in November 1969 and was one of the last soldiers to leave at the end of June 1972.
At the end of June 1972, instead of returning to the United States he transferred to Thailand with the 46th Special Forces Company. Melvin’s Senior Commanding Officer, Retired LT. Col. Radtke, wrote of him: “Melvin was highly thought of by his peers and the command as a whole. We were fortunate to receive the very best the Army had to offer in their personal pipeline of replacements from both Vietnam and the United States. I considered myself fortunate to have commanded US Army Special Forces Thailand (USASFT). I was proud of all our troops and I was proud to have served as Melvin’s commander.”
Melvin served until his death near Lopburi, Thailand on October 13, 1973. He died during a parachute jump at Pawai Drop Zone, Lopburi, Thailand. He was only 25 years old. Melvin’s remains were brought back home to Canada, escorted by MSG Harry D. Brown (46th Special Forces). A Green Berets honor guard was sent from Fort Devens, Mass. Melvin received a full military funeral on October 23, 1973, and was buried beside his grandfather in the little country Adderley cemetery near Inverness, Quebec.
In 2006, I found the 46th Special Forces soldier who did the investigation into Melvin’s parachute accident back in 1973. 1SG Daniel McGinley, 46th Special Forces (retired) helped bring closure to the family and for that we are thankful.
Melvin was awarded numerous decorations while serving in Vietnam including the Bronze Star (twice), Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defence Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon w/Device, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and Thai Jump Wings. He already had earned his Master Parachute Wings, Rigger Badge, Sharpshooter Badge prior to going to Vietnam.
I have worked very hard, along with other supporters, to ensure that Melvin is never forgotten. His name can now be found on the Special Forces Wall of Remembrance at McDill AFB, Florida, and the In Memory Program, Washington, DC. It can also be found on the North Wall in Windsor, Canada listing all the Canadian-born soldiers who lost their lives while serving for the US military in the Vietnam War.
I’m so excited to be reading at this along with Ardith Trudzik and Audrey Seehagen! Please come and share your words during open mic or enjoy others’ works while you relax with a coffee, glass of wine, or snacks. It’s FREE to attend, casual and very welcoming!
My friend and colleague Roger Beebe asked me to circulate the following information:
Please mark your calendars for the eleventh annual RCAF Yuma luncheon!
The main news this year was the arrival of Andre Barrett Pagnutti on April 17. We named him for my paternal grandfather, André Chenail, and my maternal grandmother, Shirley Barrett, and tried to encompass his French-Canadian, British, and Italian heritage. We’re also embracing his aviation connections as you can see in this photo!
From the beginning we knew he wasn’t going to be a mellow baby. Luckily Home Depot carries inexpensive industrial-strength ear muffs, and nature endowed him with an adorable giggle and a heart-melting smile.
He put these to good use to charm family and friends on “Baby Tour 2012.” The Eastern Leg took us to Ottawa, Gatineau, and Belleville in June, where we introduced Andre to his grandparents, great-grandparents, and about 100 other loved ones. Then in August we went to Victoria to visit another part of the clan and attend the wedding of our dear friends. Of course Doug took this opportunity to sneak in a bit of scuba diving as well.
All this excitement and upheaval has meant work’s been going a bit slower than usual. I stepped down as president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society and am now “just” on the board of directors. My unofficial portfolios include managing the social media accounts, and helping with promotion and fundraising. I’ve managed to write and publish a few pieces in addition to working on “the book” and hosted a lively panel at LitFest that included Noah Richler, Alexis Kienlen, and Dana DiTomaso. I was also named to Avenue magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list for Edmonton, which was really neat!
2013 looks like it will be a fun and busy year for all of us: Andre’s now in childcare three days per week, which he seems to love; Doug’s moving into a new phase of his work with Schlumberger as an engineer that could lead to some travel opportunities; and I have a few essays, articles and poems in the pipeline for publication. My next book, Polar Winds: A Century of Flying Canada’s North, is also slotted to be released by Frontenac House late in the year.
Hope this note finds you well and I wish you all the best this holiday season!
Barry Crawford (at left in photo), sent me the following write-up about Bruce Cox. At 88, Bruce is active in the community, works out at the gym three hours a week and is still “airborne all the way.” Here is his story in Barry’s words:
“On July 2, 2012 I was taking in our Canadian Forces SkyHawks parachute team’s show by the waterfront in Cobourg. After the show I had the privilege of meeting WWII veteran Bruce Cox who was in attendance.
Bruce (who now lives in nearby Port Hope) was born in Britain and joined the British Airborne at the age of 18. As part of the British First Airborne Division he was sent to North Africa to assist the infantry forces who were battling Field Marshal Rommel’s forces. Once Rommel’s forces were sent packing his unit was made ready for the invasion of Sicily where they parachuted 15 miles behind enemy lines to capture a bridge from German forces. From there it was on to Italy’s Taranto base and Barletta where he and his regiment once more parachuted behind enemy lines to be a big nuisance to the Germans.
After Italy, the unit was brought back to England for five months of preparation for D-Day (June 6, 1944). Bruce said that on that historic day his unit was on standby as backup for the Canadian paratrooper division that went in first. The Canadian 6th Airborne Division had prior claim on that day and Bruce’s regiment stood by on the airfield ready to help but Bruce said the Canadians did such a wonderful job that they weren’t needed.
Bruce told me their next mission was when he was sent into Arnhem prior to the invasion of Holland. The British Airborne paratroopers were dropped 80 miles behind enemy lines. Bruce remembered that the mission was jeopardized by the involvement of two German Waffen SS divisions who were unknowingly refitting nearby. Bruce said: ‘It was a pretty bad scene as so many things went wrong. We did make a show of it but eventually we were over run and I was taken as a prisoner of war’.
Bruce immigrated to Canada in 1956 and continued to parachute as part of a re-enactment group for many years. Now 88 years old, he made his last jump on his 80th birthday. He is also part of ‘The Memory Project’. Bruce now shares his war experiences with students across Ontario’s Northumberland, Peterborough, and Durham counties. He said ‘I tell them how it really was. I don’t pull any punches’.
To be in the presence of this gentle and humble man is always an honour and privilege.”
Veterans Voices of Canada is a non profit organization that documents Veterans and their experiences through video. These interviews are then donated to schools, museums and libraries across Canada. So far, they have documented over 600 Veterans and that number continues to rise as Veterans (or their family members) contact them.
The video/docu-story founder Alan Cameron has been working on about the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and their experience in Normandy named “The Fighting North Novies; Into the Fire!” is now available. The cost is $25 per DVD. Expect about a three week delivery time. A percentage will go to help support the upkeep of the NNSH Museum in Amherst. Email your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
90-year-old Gordon Jones still flies his Tiger Moth from when he was a British Commonwealth Training Plan flight instructor during WWII in High River, Alberta. Meet the man and read his remarkable story as written by Anne Gafiuk at an upcoming launch.
Where: Museum of the Highwood. 406 First Street SW in High River, Alberta
When: December 1, 2012 at 1:30pm.
Event is free. Books will be for sale and the author will be on hand to sign them. Refreshments will be provided.
You’re also cordially invited to attend these upcoming launch events in Alberta:
AeroSpace Museum of Calgary (4629 McCall Way NE) on Saturday, November 24th 1-3pm. Music, dancing, light refreshments and book signing amid impressive vintage airplanes. RSVP to Lyn Cadence at 403-465-2345 or email@example.com to find out how you and three guests can get FREE admission to the launch and museum (value: up to $40).
Alberta Aviation Museum of Edmonton (11410 Kingsway Ave) on Tuesday, November 27th from 6-8pm. Light refreshments will be served and author will be on hand to sign books. Contact Lyn Cadence at 403-465-2345 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you and three guests can get FREE admission to the launch and museum (value: up to $42).