Tales of the north touch down in Oak Bay

People stories take centre stage as three authors collaborate at local library

Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail author of Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North will launch her book alongside two other authors at the Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library on Dec. 4.

People and their stories are the common link between a trio of authors visiting Oak Bay to launch their true tales Thursday.

“On the surface our books appear very different. But it really comes down to stories and story telling,” said Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. “I love multi-author events, it takes some of the pressure off and lends to the festive atmosphere.”

Edmonton historian laureate Metcalfe-Chenail will launch Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North on Dec. 4 with local authors Lynne Bowen and Christine Lowther at the Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Metcalfe-Chenail is a historian, freelance writer and author of two titles on Canadian aviation history. The first was For the Love of Flying.

“[This book is] a follow up to my first book which only went up to the 60th parallel, mostly in Eastern Canada,” she said. “I thought this would be a great way to explore Canada’s northern history and, of course, I wanted to travel the north which made it doubly fun.”

Her stories were gathered during a three-month Berton House residency for writers in Dawson City, Yukon in 2010.

“What I really set out to do is create an inclusive history of aviation in the north,” she said. “I wanted to draw on voices.”

Those voices include the Indigenous, women and those working on the ground as well as in the air.

“I wanted to include people who weren’t pilots, while I like them and there’s a lot in my family, they tend to steal the glory,” she said with a laugh, adding that mechanics and passengers and those on the ground are “such an important part of the story.”

A favourite interview was Fred Carmichael in Inuvik, N.W.T., the first private and commercial pilot in the Northwest Territories and Order of Canada recipient.

“Just a really neat guy. Getting to interview him was one of the highlights of the book for sure,” she said.

“The travelling was really neat,” she added. “I got to go to Old Crow twice as well and I dipped into their old history projects from the last two decades.”

In that fly-in community she met Stephen Frost Sr., a longtime safety net on the ground providing weather information for aviators in the land where “weather is king.”

“He is not a pilot, not trained in aviation in any way, but he became so important to the industry,” she said.

She’ll share more stories at the Oak Bay library,1442 Monterey Ave., on Dec. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m.

“The three of us will do some readings and talk a little bit about our books and take some questions,” Metcalfe-Chenail said. “It’s going to be a casual event. All three of us just like talking to people and connecting with readers.”

She offers a second free event the next day, Dec. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Saanich Peninsula at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, 1910 Norseman Rd. adjacent to Victoria International Airport.

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com