Coming to Thunder Bay

Coming to Thunder Bay
Canada Reads author, Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Birthday Lunch

The Birthday Lunch
one fine novel by Joan Clark

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Memoir by Carl Goodwin. Growing Up in a Company Town.

Memories of the Coal
by Carl Goodwin

Post world war, 1950’s. At age ten, I’m living in a small mid-sized port midway along the north shore of Lake Erie in Southern Ontario. Our community is comparatively small, perhaps a thousand in winter and a summer population of about two thousand if one counts visitors who arrive from the city to “cottage” and swim in the lake.
            Kettle Creek flows through the village. The creek is dredged to remove silt that has been washed down from the farmland upstream. Dredging allows access for large lake freighters that come to offload massive tonnages of coal shipped across the lake from Ohio. Large piles of coal are dumped on both sides of the creek along the docks.
            Some of the coal is destined for homes but most of it is taken to industries and hospitals  in cities to the north, We live alongside the east dock, four houses up the street from where the bulk of the coal is offloaded and stockpiled pending sale. The coal is graded and screened before being trucked out through the village. My uncle is superintendent on the east dock and has worked his way up through the ranks of the coal company. For profit to be made, the coal must be reloaded and trucked to waiting customers as quickly as possible. 

Strongly anti-union, my uncle decides which drivers get what loads. A “good” load is one that is a short trip to places that have good turnaround areas. A “bad” load is a load that must be trucked a greater distance sometimes over snow-clogged country roads in winter and muddy pot-holed roads in spring time.
            The trucks are loaded using cranes and, as the coal is dropped into the trucks, large clouds of coal dust drift in off the lake. Fine and penetrating, the dust vibrates from the trucks and onto the street in front of our house.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Good-bye Stuart McLean

Good-bye great story-teller.  Your wonderful stories will be missed. Your humour and compassion will be missed. You told us about every day people and made us laugh and we still laugh when we think of that Christmas turkey. It's good-bye to Dave and Morley too. Good-bye to all your characters and to the Vinyl Cafe itself. It's been a blast. Just wish you could have stayed around longer. Rest in peace, radio friend.

Stuart McLean, bestselling author, humorist and host of CBC Radio's The Vinyl Cafe, died on February 15 at the age of 68, just over a year after his skin cancer diagnosis. McLean suspended his radio show in December 2016 to focus on cancer treatment.
For 40 years, McLean told stories on the radio. He began his career making documentaries for CBC Radio's Sunday Morning. In 1979, he won an ACTRA award for his work on a documentary about the Jonestown massacre.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fantastic News

Letter from John Pateman, CEO Thunder Bay Public Library to the Chronicle Journal

Further to the piece on Sheila Burnford (CJ, Feb. 5) your readers may be interested to learn that Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) is working in partnership with Lakehead University to bring the Sheila Burnford collection to Thunder Bay. LU is liaising with the Burnford family to acquire Sheila’s personal archive which includes manuscripts and the typewriter which she wrote her famous books on. The aim is to establish a Sheila Burnford Study Room at TBPL which will complement our local history and genealogy collections.
Sheila Burnford is a literary figure of local, provincial, national and international significance and bringing her collection to Thunder Bay will help to boost tourism and the local economy. This will be a community-led and -driven project and we will aim to engage and involve as many individuals and organizations in the community as possible. There will be the potential for many spinoff projects encompassing the performing and visual arts, young people and First Nations communities. We will keep the CJ updated on news of this exciting project.

John Pateman, CEO Thunder Bay Public Library

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Love, love, love...

Mary Black Library Community Room

Tuesday 14th February  7:00pm
Theme: Poetry—Love on the Line
Valentine’s Day! A perfect time to listen to a selection of local poets read their work about passion whether love or hate in its many disguises.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Marion Agnew, John Pringle winners in Ten Stories High 2017

Marion Agnew

Thunder Bay's Marion Agnew's story Demeter's Easter took second place in the Canadian Authors' Association ( Niagara Branch) 2017 Ten Story High contest. John Pringle, from Atikokan, won honourable mention with his story Summer Work. Big congratulations to both.

John Pringle

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Get Published! Win Prizes!

Get Published! Win Prizes!
CANADIAN SHORTS: A Collection of Short Stories
in celebration of Canada's 150th

Lots of information at

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sandra Brown Describes Winter Flyers

Delivering Flyers and Singing
by Sandra Brown.
I have two flyer routes. There's no real point to this except that this is a slice of life. There are a lot of folks delivering flyers today. I have 125 houses in probably the hilliest part of Port Arthur, lots of steps up to houses. It’s a bone cracking cold, frost bite on my toes and a red nose that might fall off kinda day - especially after that wind kicks in.

It takes me about 2 - 3 hours of walking every Thursday. I move slower when there is ice (Paul Pugh the city sidewalks are great - say thanks for me to the workers). People's sidewalks and stairs - not as good. I fell 5 times last year - no injuries but I am now not in a rush. And I bought some diamond level Yaktraks. Lifesavers those.

At 70 I might just be the oldest flyer delivery person in town. It's been a couple of years now. It started because I retired from a desk job and just could not seem to get off my butt. I needed an exercise plan that would not allow procrastination, lethargy and Asian Dramas to deter me. Hence flyer routes. I have done these many times over the years when we or the kids needed some quick cash. Rodney Brown and I did one in Vancouver on a vacation. Talk about hills! And rain.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Downing, Almost. A Mother's Story by Tamara Buhagien

According to the CCTV footage from the pool, 19 seconds is what it took from the time my 3-year old daughter began drowning to the time her father lifted her out of the water. She was already unconscious and had stopped breathing.

At the time, she was being supervised by her father, who was doing a great job with our two kids at my son’s Pokémon-themed 6th birthday party. He thought she was safe for a moment while he turned around to look at our son. In fact she wasn’t even in the water yet. She did what he didn’t anticipate…she went under a railing and dropped straight into the pool…without a splash.

Friday, January 13, 2017

My Invisible Girlfriend, by Peggy Lauzon

My Invisible Girlfriend
by Peggy Lauzon

 The year my mom died, I remember poring over her book collection with my father. 
One book in particular draws my attention.  It is very old and too tall for the shelf, stored on end, the pages fraying.  I reach for it.  There is a certain solemnity to handling a book so old and crumbling, flakes of browning paper falling onto my lap.  I turn the pages carefully, as if it’s an ancient tome from a rare book library.  In fact, it turns out to be that rarest book of all:  my mom’s scrapbook from when she was a young girl growing up in Chicago in the Forties. 
Inside, the opening picture is a drawing of the moon.  Blue and round and remote, it fills the whole first page. There is a serialized science fiction story cut out from the daily paper, each episode carefully glued in order and in place.  We keep turning pages.  Every story, every single thing in the scrapbook is about space exploration.  An artist’s rendition of a young woman looks out from the pages of an article from the Chicago Tribune.  She is wearing an aviator’s cap, flaps down around her ears, loose fitting coveralls, combat boots.  She is lovely and happy, waving as she steps into a rocket ship.  The caption reads, The Skipper of the first Rocket Ship to Take Off for the Moon Might Well be a Woman.
The tears spill over for both of us when my father says, “Cathie would’ve been an astronaut if she’d been born in a different era.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Meditation on Grief

A Meditation on Grief by Margie Taylor

Learning to walk again. That’s what it can feel like after you’ve lost a loved one. The death of a partner, the aftermath of divorce, the loss of a parent or child, a beloved sibling or friend – sometimes the pain is so wrenching it feels as if the normal patterns of life have fallen away.

How did you used to walk? How did it feel to wake up in the morning and have that person in your life? Who will support you now – who will tell you you’re going to be okay, you’ll get through this, you’ll find your way?

You’ve entered an unknown country. You’ve arrived there without a guidebook, not speaking the language, not knowing the rules. And you really, really don’t want to be there.

This new place is familiar and yet different. There are streets, houses, apartment buildings. People commute to work, take their dogs for a walk, shop for groceries, play with their children. The sun rises and sets, it gets cold at night, warms up during the day. The very familiarity is jarring: shouldn’t it stop, if only for a moment? How can it be that the world can carry on when the one who made it interesting has gone?

You feel like Alice, viewing the world through a looking-glass. An invisible wall separates you from the others. In time, the wall will melt. You, too, will shop and commute and maybe take a few tottering steps in this new place, hoping you won’t fall and make a fool of yourself. Maybe you’ll join a group or take up a hobby. You’ll find a way to stop feeling guilty about being alive – stop apologizing for things you said or should have said.

You will, eventually, stop envying those on the other side of the wall. The ones who haven’t experienced this kind of loss. The ones who can still take the present for granted, as you used to do, and assume the future will continue. Your own future has changed for ever. At some point, you’ll see the way forward. You’ll find a way to navigate the trails in this part of the world.

Right now, though, if you could, you’d go back in time – not far back, just far enough. Back to when you took for granted all the bits and pieces that make up a day. The small conversations, the shared jokes, even the occasional arguments.

In this strange new country the stories aren’t remembered … they’re waiting to be told.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Submission rules for 2017 NOWW Writers Contest

19th Annual NOWW Writing Contest
  •  Poetry 
    One entry consists of 3-5 poems
  • Poems may be in any style or theme
  • Combined line count from all poems must be between 50-100 lines

    Short Fiction
      A complete piece of literary fiction
      Entry must be between 2000-3500 words
  • Novel Excerpt Speculative Fiction
    A first chapter (or part of a chapter) from a novel
    Entry may be up to 3000 words
    Central to the work are elements, settings and characters that are speculative and stem fromgenres such as (but not limited to) science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, horror, alternative history and magic realism.
  • Creative Nonfiction
    A complete piece of creative nonfiction; note that memoir and personal essay can be considered creative nonfiction
    Entry must be between 1500-3000 words
  • Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose
    A complete piece of literary fiction
    This prize will alternate yearly between creative nonfiction and fiction
     A Northwestern Ontario setting must be central to the work. Northwestern Ontario comprisesthe districts of Thunder Bay, Rainy River, and Kenora.
    An entry submitted to this category may not be submitted to any other category
    Entry must be between 1500-3000 words
  • Eligible Writers
    This contest is open to individuals (Canadian and International) aged 18 and over
    Entries must be emailed no later than midnight E.S.T March 31st, 2017

    Entries must be original and unpublished
    Entries must be written in English
      Entries must not bear authors’ name; entries that do will be disqualified
  •   Authors agree that winning entries may be read at NOWW’s year-end celebration and published online on NOWW’s website and in the NOWW newsletter without compensation to the author beyond that of the awarded prize money. With these exceptions, the author retains copyright in all work submitted. Winning entries may be edited prior to publication.
  •   Winners must provide a photo and brief biography
    Judging Process
  •   Judging is blind
  •   Screeners will select six finalists per category to be sent to a final judge
  •   Final judges reserve the right not to select winners if, in their opinion, none of the entries is of
    publishable quality

      Winners will be announced at NOWW’s year-end celebration and on the NOWW website on or after May 13th, 2017
    The finalists for each category will be notified by email on or after May 13th, 2017 that their entries were shortlisted
  • Prizes
  •   The categories of poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, and novel excerpt-speculative fiction are each awarded a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize
  •   1st prize is awarded $125
  •   2nd prize is awarded $75
  •   3rd prize is awarded $50
  •   The Bill MacDonald Prize for Prose will be awarded one prize of $125 each year
  •   Each poetry prize winner will include a complete entry (not an individual poem)

    Entry Fee
    Entry is free for NOWW members in good standing
    Non-members must pay a fee of $10 in Canadian funds per entry
    Payment may be made online through PayPal at the time of submission
    Cheques must be payable to NOWW and must be received by regular mail or hand delivered no later than midnight March 31st, 2017
  • How to Submit
  •   Up to two (2) entries may be made per category
  •   Only electronic submissions will be accepted
  •   We prefer submissions in Microsoft Word. If your work was created in another word processor,
    you can convert the file to Microsoft Word and check the document for conversion errors. We
    will also accept RTF or PDF files.

All files are to be labelled with the category and the submission title of your entry.
Examples: "Novel Excerpt Dracula is Back.doc" or "Poetry Dreaming of Summer.doc
Prose manuscripts must be double-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point font with one-inch margins on all sides and the pages numbered
Poetry must be single-spaced in Times New Roman 12 point font with one-inch (or greater) margins on all sides and the pages numbered.  Each entry must include a cover page in a separate file:
o Name
o Emailaddress
o Mailingaddress
o Phonenumber
o Titleofentry
o Category
o Linecount(poetryonly)
o Word count (all prose categories) o Howyouheardaboutthecontest
  •   If your name appears anywhere besides the cover page, the entry will be disqualified
  •   Counts must be exact, not estimates (do not include the title in the word count)
  •   Send entries to:
  •   Pay entry fees via PayPal on our website
  •   Send entry fees by cheque to: NOWW Writing Contest
    Box 425
    1100 Memorial Avenue Thunder Bay, ON
    P7B 4A3

  •   For more information, contact Don at 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Best Sellers

1. The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapeña, Doubleday Canada 
2. The Illegal, Lawrence Hill, HarperCollins Publishers
3. Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur, Andrews McMeel Publishing 
4. Fifteen Dogs, André Alexis, Coach House Books
5. Room, Emma Donoghue, HarperCollinsPublishers
6. Still Mine, Amy Stuart, Simon & Schuster
7. Wenjack, Joseph Boyden, Hamish Hamilton
8. The High Mountains of Portugal, Yann Martel, Knopf Canada
9. Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien, Knopf Canada
10. Secret Path, Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, Simon & Schuster
1. 99: Stories of the Game, Wayne Gretzky, Penguin Canada 
2. The Happiness Equation, Neil Pasricha, Penguin Publishing Group 
3. Bleeding Blue, Wendel Clark, Simon & Schuster
4. Canada, Mike Myers, Doubleday Canada
5. A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, Scribner
6. The Brain’s Way of Healing, Norman Doidge, Penguin Books 
7. The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King, Doubleday Canada
8. Unflinching, Jody Mitic, Simon & Schuster
9. Don Cherry’s Sports Heroes, Don Cherry, Doubleday Canada
10. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield, Random House of Canada 
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, Scholastic 
2. Double Down, Jeff Kinney, Abrams 
3. Ghosts, Raina Telgemeier, Scholastic
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling, Scholastic 
5. Pokemon, Cris Silvestri, Scholastic 
6. The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan, Hyperion 
7. Love You Forever, Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw, Firefly Books
8. The Darkest Dark, Chris Hadfield, Tundra Books
9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs, Quirk Books
10. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury USA
1. The Whole30, Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig, Penguin Canada
2. Pretty Happy, Kate Hudson, HarperCollins Publishers 
3. How Not to Die, Michael Greger and Gene Stone, Flatiron Books
4. The Miracle Ball Method, Elaine Petrone, Workman Publishing
5. What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, Workman Publishing
6. The 20/20 Diet, Phil McGraw, Bird Street Books
7. The Body Book, Cameron Diaz, HarperCollins Publishers 
8. The Longevity Book, Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark, HarperCollins Publishers
9. Strong Looks Better Naked, Khloé Kardashian, Regan Arts
10. Eat Fat, Get Thin, Mark Hyman, Little Brown & Company
1. Oh She Glows Every Day, Angela Liddon, Penguin Canada
2. The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon, Penguin Canada
3. Thug Kitchen, Thug Kitchen Staff, House of Anansi Press
4. Cravings, Chrissy Teigen, Clarkson Potter
5. Real Food, Real Good, Michael Smith, Penguin Canada
6. Cooking for Jeffrey, Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter
7. The Pioneer Woman Cooks — Dinnertime, Ree Drummond, HarperCollins Publishers
8. Appetites, Anthony Bourdain, HarperCollins Publishers
9. Thug Kitchen 101, Thug Kitchen Staff, HarperCollins Publishers
10. It’s All Easy, Gwyneth Paltrow, Grand Central Publishing
1. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, Doubleday Canada
2. The Girl on the Train (movie tie-in), Paula Hawkins, Doubleday Canada
3. Rogue Lawyer, John Grisham, Dell
4. The Couple Next Door, Shari Lapeña, Doubleday Canada
5. The Widow, Fiona Barton, Penguin Canada
6. I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh, Berkley
7. The Whistler, John Grisham, Doubleday
8. Make Me, Lee Child, Dell
9. End of Watch, Stephen King, Scribner
10. Inferno, Dan Brown, Anchor