Local Author Heads North

By Kevin Maimann
for the Edmonton Examiner
September 29, 2010
As summer bids farewell and the thoughts of many Edmontonians drift to warmer climates, a Mill Woods author is taking a three-month trip north.
Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail was one of four Canadian writers chosen by the Writers’ Trust of Canada in 2010 for a three-month stay at famous Canadian author Pierre Berton’s childhood home in Dawson City, Yukon.
The cheery 28-year-old, who lives in the Tweddle Place neighbourhood, will use the historic building as a home base while she compiles information for a history of aviation in Canada’s north.
“I’ll be even going north of the Arctic Circle, so that’s going to be pretty crazy,” she says. “But I figure Edmonton will feel balmy when I get back.”
Metcalfe-Chenail will spend the first month traveling to other northern towns to gather records and interviews with locals, and will spend the short days in the dead of winter working on the historical book as well as her first novel, Chasing Skies.
“I just need to hole myself up and finish the (Chasing Skies) manuscript, and I figure three-and-a-half hours of daylight in December, that should just about do it,” she says with a laugh.
She should find plenty of inspiration, as Berton is one of her heroes, and writer Charlotte Gray – another role model of hers – previously held the coveted Berton House residency.
Metcalfe-Chenail’s passion for aviation history was sparked by the abundance of pilots in her family, as well as a lack of existing resources on the subject.
“The thing that’s really struck me so far is, being a Canadian history major for six years in university, we always talked about the railway and how important that was for creating Canada. But then nobody ever talks about aviation history,” she says.
“For much of Canada, you don’t have roads, you don’t have railways, and I think for the 20th and 21st centuries, aviation has been for Canadian geographic/economical development, what the railway was for the 19th century.”
Metcalfe-Chenail’s first book, For the Love of Flying: The Story of Laurentian Air Services, was published last year.
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.