Left to right: Co-host Mary Lynk, authors Bernice Morgan, Anne Levesque, Sarah Mian, Carole Bruneau, Graham Steele, and co-host Anita Coady.
-by John Gillis
A Canada fundraiser and literary event in Margaree celebrated its 10th successful year last Sunday afternoon at the Coady and Tompkins Memorial Library.
Co-hosts Anita Coady and Mary Lynk were excited and thrilled to introduce five talented and dedicated Atlantic Canadian authors during a delightful afternoon of readings.
Branch lead Kim Tilsley said the Coady and Tompkins Library has become the beating heart of the community and she spoke of the many important roles the library plays in service to the community.
“Volunteer hours are very important in our community,” Maria Coady noted in her thank you to everyone who made the past 10 years such a success for this annual event.
The success of the event was evident on the cover of the program for the day – just looking at the impressive list of authors who have participated in the event over the years is enough of a testament to the unique opportunity this event has presented to readers.
Co-host Mary Lynk thanked the writers for “helping us to see,” so much of what is important in our lives.
Strathlorne author Anne Levesque read from her wonderful debut novel, Lucy Cloud. She described the book as “a series of vignettes” set in Cape Breton and said much of the work was loosely based on stories told to her by her mother.
“I feel so grateful to have libraries and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,” said Levesque.
Dartmouth-born author Sarah Mian said her novel When The Saints came as a result of a long apprenticeship and was based upon her hard-scrabble upbringing.
“I feel sometimes like I was the one who got away,” she said of her childhood.
Mian said she always knew she wanted to be a writer and Mary Lynk commended her bravery in recently giving up full-time public service employment to devote herself to writing full time.
“We need that kind of bravery,” said Lynk.
Mian said she is currently working on a film adaption of her novel as well as a second novel.
Carol Bruneau might have been the most prolific of authors presented Sunday. The Nova Scotia author has eight books to her credit and she said she loves to write about the things and the communities we find ourselves attached to and how those often present complications.
Bruneau said her mother did encourage her to be a journalist and in that day and age, there was very little support for fiction writers.
Graham Steele, former Nova Scotia Finance Minister and NDP MLA has written two books on politics.
Steele joked that unlike his fellow fiction writers he had to base his work on “the facts.”
“If there’s going to be a change in politics, that change is going to have to come from citizens, not from elected politicians,” said Steele, a Rhodes Scholar who grew up in Manitoba to immigrant parents.
“I came to Nova Scotia for what I expected to be three years, to attend Dalhousie Law School, and I married a classmate and I’m still here,” said Steele.
Eighty-four-year-old author Bernice Morgan showed herself to be a real trooper and a treasure as well. She provided a spirited response to Graham Steele’s contention that fiction writers have the latitude to “make it all up.”
“I want to let you know that we, fiction writers, do have to do our fact checking,” Morgan exclaimed to a thunder of applause as well as a laugh from Steele.
Morgan should know. She spent some 10 years or so researching and writing her classic novel Random Passage, based on the pioneer settlers who populated her parents home communities in rural Newfoundland.
Morgan thanked those who took her to visit the grave of fellow writer Alistair MacLeod, saying she was very moved to see it and that he was such an inspiration to her and her writing.
Morgan read excerpts from her writing and spoke eloquently about loss – the loss one feels, especially when you consider all the work and effort that went into creating a community only to see it wither away and be abandoned over time as so many communities have over the years in Newfoundland.
“The Cape, where my mother grew up – no one lives there any more,” Morgan said.
“I can imagine that loss and that’s based on a few hundred of years of effort. Can you imagine the loss our First Nations people feel when they reflect on the losses of the work of thousands of years?” the author asked.
Morgan reflected on the changes that have occurred in her lifetime.
“I grew up in a time when children were free range. When you get to my age and you say something, now people listen because it’s already history,” Morgan concluded.
Anita Coady thanked the authors, Joanne MacIntyre and family for their music, and all who contributed to a spectacular afternoon of the gifts of music, arts, humour, and sharing.
All in all, it was a great way to spend Canada Day.
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