Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cariboo Portraits C.D. Hoy and C.S. Wing An Amazing Photographic Legacy of Early 20th Century Cariboo Life

Cariboo Photographers C.D. Hoy & C.S. Wing
Saturday, May 23, 2015, 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm at the Quesnel Museum.
Lorna Townsend & Susan Susan Smith-Josephy will discuss the photographs of C.D. Hoy and C.S. Wing and reveal the stories of a few of their subjects. 

By the early 20th century, most communities in the province had professional photographers recording the lives of prominent citizens through portraiture. Quesnel, oddly enough, boasted two resident photographers during this time, both of them Chinese, and both prominent pioneers beyond their photographic legacy

By the early 20th century, most communities in the province had professional photographers recording the lives of prominent citizens through portraiture. Quesnel, oddly enough, boasted two resident photographers during this time, both of them Chinese, and both prominent pioneers beyond their photographic legacy. The similarities between Wing and Hoy’s aesthetic creativity, coupled with an unusual familiarity with their subjects, affords us a unique and intimate glimpse into the early 20th century lives of Quesnel’s First Nations, Chinese and European pioneers. Come and learn about the lives of these two amazing photographers and their subjects.
Lorna Townsend earned a Masters degree in history from the University of Northern British Columbia. She has been an active volunteer with both the Quesnel Museum & Heritage Commission and the Friends of the Museum, preparing several of their publications. For the past decade she has particularly been interested in researching and writing about Quesnel’s Chinese Community.

Susan Smith-Josephy's first book, Lillian Alling: the journey home is a true account about a woman who, in the 1920s, walked from New York to Siberia via Canada and Alaska. Susan has a degree in History from Simon Fraser University, and also studied journalism at Langara College. Her next non-fiction book is about Jean Caux, the famed packer, who is known in British Columbia as Cataline.

Cost: Free with museum admission/membership (otherwise $5)

British Columbia History Authors' Fair, Quesnel, May 23

This Saturday, May 23, at the Quesnel Library come and visit some of your favourite British Columbian history authors. From 1-4:30 authors will be available to talk about their books, and books will be available for signing and for purchase. From 3:30-4:30 there will be author readings in the library’s program room. Join us to meet the authors, and enjoy a coffee and cake. Free admission.

Authors attending
Lily Chow was born in Malaysia, but has lived in Canada since the mid-sixties. She has taught in the Prince George School District and at the University of Northern British Columbia. She now devotes her time to researching and writing. Her first book, Sojourners in the North, won the Jeanne Clarke history award and is used in many colleges and universities as a reference text.

Her Books:
Sojourners in the North
Chasing Their Dreams
Legends of Four Chinese Sages
Blood and Sweat over the Railroad Tracks 

Well-known local photographer and author of:
Spirit in the Grass
The Bowron Lakes
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

92 year old Rudy Johnson has a lot of tales to tell, and he’s now got them down in print. His personal journey is detailed in his book, “Rudy Johnson.” The book tells about Rudy’s life from the time he was born in 1922, his move to Canada and the Cariboo, and of course tells about the famous bridge which bears his name.

Tom Lymbery
"Tom’s Gray Creek – a Kootenay Lake Memoir” covers the years 1911 to 1945 when sternwheelers were still an essential part of transportation on Kootenay Lake.  With the success of attracting tourists to Banff and Lake Louise the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed 3 large steamers on Kootenay, Arrow and Okanagan. This became the only place in the world where a sternwheeler carried a daily Greyhound bus, carefully balanced across the bow. Tom Lymbery and his sister, Alice grew up running the phone messages to Captain Malcolm MacKinnon and also to the Greyhound drivers.  Dismantled material from that Balfour Hotel was used by Tom’s father to build Gray Creek Store, a family business still flourishing after 102 years. This book has 205 previously unpublished photos and other documents such as Pacific Coast Militia Rangers dog tags and information about the Japanese Fire Balloons

Richard Mackie the Associate Editor and Book Reviews Editor at BC Studies, a quarterly journal dedicated to the exploration of British Columbia's cultural, economic, and political life, past and present. An archaeologist and an historian, Richard has written the following books:
Home Truths: Highlights from BC History (editor)
Mountain Timber: The Comox Logging Company in the Vancouver Island Mountains
Island Timber: A Social History of the Comox Logging Company, Vancouver Island
Trading Beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific, 1793-1843
The Wilderness Profound:  Victorian Life on the Gulf of Georgia
Hamilton Mack Laing:  Hunter-Naturalist

Richard Wright
With more books to his credit than it's possible to list in this space, Richard Wright is a Barkerville local treasure. The two books he's best known for are Barkerville and the Cariboo Goldfields and Overlanders: The epic cross-Canada treks for gold, 1858-1862. In addition to being at this year's Authors' Fair, Richard will also be the Keynote Speaker at this year's BC Historical Federation conference.

Susan Smith-Josephy (that's me!)
A writer and researcher based in Quesnel. Her first book, Lillian Alling: the journey home is a true account about a woman who, in the 1920s, walked from New York to Siberia via Canada and Alaska. Her second book, a biography of Cataline (Jean Caux), the famed British Columbian mule train packer, will be out next year.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

You're invited to the BC Historical Federation Authors' Fair

Join us in Quesnel, BC for the BC Historical Federation Annual Conference | May 21–23, 2015

This year's theme: Journey to the Cariboo

Authors who register for the conference can request a table at no extra cost. There are a limited number of spaces so please book in advance by contacting the Quesnel Museum at 250-992-9580 or Please indicate if you are interested in being added to the schedule to make a short presentation and provide us with a brief description of the work you will be promoting.

Local non-fiction history authors wishing to attend just the Authors Fair, please also contact the Quesnel Museum at 250-992-9580 or There will be a $25 table fee.

The Authors Fair will be held from 1-4:30, Saturday May 23, 2015, at the Cariboo Regional District Library, Quesnel Branch, 101-410 Kinchant Street, Quesnel.

Join us! You do not need to be a BCHF member to attend the conference.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

First draft of Cataline manuscript is DONE

Jean Caux, Cataline.
 Famed mule-train packer of British Columbia 

"Image A-02038 courtesy of Royal BC Museum, BC Archives"
I should have written this last month, but I was so excited to go away to New Mexico, that I saved the news until today.
Before I went on my holiday, I managed to get the first draft of the Cataline manuscript done and off to the beta readers. For those of you who aren't familiar with Cataline, he's also known by his real name: Jean Caux. Monsieur Caux, for he was from France, came to British Columbia in the late 1850s for the Fraser Gold Rush. 
Before long he realized that he could make more money running a mule pack train, so he took up that occupation. He was very good indeed at his job, and kept at it until he was well into his late 70s. 
He became a folk legend of sorts in British Columbia for a number of reasons. First, he was an old timer and knew all the tales from the past, and knew all the famous people like British Columbia Governor James Douglas, and Judge Begbie, and Simon Gunanoot, and pretty much everyone. Second, he was absolutely unique. He had a strong Bernaise accent, and used colourful language peppered with profanity. He was particular in his dress and habits, and as years went on he became known for his idiosyncrasies. Third, he got the job done. New packers sprung up all the time and not all were reliable. Some went on 'sprees' and got drunk and never came back. Others didn't know how to handle animals (Cataline was famed for his knowledge of horses and mules). And some of the packers lost goods or were terminally late. Fourth, he was physically tough and seemed almost indestructible. He slept outside, no matter the season or the weather. He woke up at 2 am, and worked all day every day spring, summer or fall. Sometimes he rode a horse, but many times the packers walked. Fifth, he was well-loved by families, friends and foes. Everyone respected Cataline (except perhaps the Hudson's Bay Company, but we'll get into that a little later). 
Anyway, right now the manuscript is way too long. So I'm depending on the beta readers to tell me what to cut and keep. Once I get their feedback, I'll work some more on the manuscript and get it to the editor's early in the new year. Then, once she's waved her magic wand over it, I can send it off to the publisher. A long, slow process, but one that is the best for me. I want the book to due Cataline justice. He deserves it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Interview with Gary Sim, author of Railway Rock Gang

An interview with the hard-working Gary Sim


SSJL Tell us about yourself. 
GS: I was born in Vancouver BC, but graduated from Steveston High in 1969. I dabbled in quite a few different jobs and activities along the way, including working for the phone company, and for BC Rail. I've written numerous published articles, and have published (and keep updating) the digital project BC ARTISTS. I also draw, paint, and produce limited edition prints and etchings. By day I work for DGBK Architects, Vancouver, as a Construction Administrator, specializing in healthcare construction. 

Tell us about your book
Railway Rock Gang is a compilation of memories and photographs of projects that were done during the nine years that I worked for BC RAIL on the Rock Gangs, from 1978 to 1987. I was always taking photographs of interesting projects, and after many years decided to put them together with chapters describing the projects. From this grew an 800-term glossary in which I describe all of the tools, equipment, terms, techniques, and slang used by the rock gangs on a daily basis, that might not otherwise be familiar to the reader.

How did you get starting writing this book?
About 18 years ago I was volunteering at the Writers Festival. Every year they held a volunteer thank you party, with an open mic. Any volunteer who wanted could sign up to read. I decided to write the short story "Patrolling the Budd" for the event, and did the reading as planned. When I finished, a guy came out of the audience and introduced himself as one of the characters I'd written about in the story. He was the BC RAIL Lillooet Station Operator that day, and remembered the events vividly. He was quite excited to hear the story, and it really showed me how our history is relevant and important.

What did you learn during the writing process? Can you give us any tips?
I was lucky in that I have hundreds of photographs taken during the time I worked for BC RAIL, so many of the stories came from simply looking at the pictures and describing them. I think that telling personal stories about "the old guys" (as one of my readers put it) makes the stories more interesting. My main difficulty in writing was managing all of the images that I wanted to use, and a rigorous filing system is highly recommended, and a way to link the images to their desired location in the book. Outside of that, I actually had fun writing the stories, especially since I didn't have to make anything up. In production terms, the computer gives endless freedom for writing, hacking, hewing, proofing, writing alternate tries, listing things to do, doing research and fact checking, and making ongoing sequential backups. Otherwise, my main "tool" is to read everything aloud to myself (or to anyone who will listen). You can find and fix lots of funny wording if you read your writing aloud.

Tell us about your previous books/projects.
I have self-published a number of pamphlets over the years, starting with the "Sim Family Goodie Recipes" book, and continued with compilations of drawings and limited edition prints. I've issued historical chapbooks on Ruiter Stinson Sherman (1865-1941), Maud Rees Sherman (1900-1976), School Days magazine (1919-1931), and John Kyle (1871-1958).

What is it that you like about your particular area of history?
A lot of the information on our history is being lost, literally as we speak, and I think that anything we can do to save it is important. As well, the time and places that I'm researching are often places where I too have lived in BC, and it is interesting to see the changes over time.

What books are you reading right now?
Charlie Hill at the National Gallery sent me a copy of "Artists, Architects & Artisans: Canadian Art 1890 - 1918", which I am working my way through (it is a hefty 340 pages).

Tell us about your next project.
I seldom have just one project on the go. I keep adding information to my main project BC ARTISTS. I'm working on a catalogue raisonné of my artwork, and a biography of early Vancouver/BC artist Maud Rees Sherman. I'm writing another autobiographical volume to fill in the early and later years that Railway Rock Gang doesn't include.

How can people buy your book ?
I created a website, which has links to the BLURB onlinebookstore. I can also ship or deliver a copy locally, email me to order at

Thank you, Gary!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Hop

I was asked by Matt Posner, a novelist and teacher and friend of mine, to participate in a blog hop by answering four questions about my writing. Though they seem simple, they're actually quite thought provoking. 
Hello! Is it me you're looking for?
Here are the questions:
1) What am I working on?
So much. Maybe too much? 

My main project right now is a non-fiction history book. It's about a mule train packer called Jean Caux, who was originally from France, and came to British Columbia in 1858 for the Fraser River gold rush. Jean Caux, whose nickname was Cataline, is a sort of folk hero in British Columbia history. Click this link to a bit more about the book and to a very cool photograph of him.

Cataline was just a regular, every day sort of guy. He worked hard in his new country, he was a kind man, he was a good friend, he was a reliable and honest person, and was true to himself. Eventually, because his career was so long--it spanned from the 1850s to the 1910s--he became known throughout the province as a unique and almost mythological character. Due to the nature of his occupation, and the length of time he spent at it, he was often at the forefront of major events in British Columbia, and met many famous historical figures. In the end, he became a rather historical figure himself. I found myself intrigued and charmed by the man, and hope readers will be too.

I've recently branched out into fiction writing.
I am working on a bunch of different short stories. Some of these are stories I've already written, and am now revisiting them and revising them. Others are new, just fresh off the branch. Yet others still are stories I'm writing for the two fiction-writing courses I'm taking. And still more are stories I'm writing to enter into contests. This is my year for learning how to write fiction. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

My fiction is usually dark, gloomy and death is usually featured in some way and probably it will be winter. Right now, I'm also a little bit obsessed with Mars, so that's been working its way into the writing as well.

I'll be the first to admit it's a little gloomy
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My non-fiction is always about every day people doing extraordinary things. I don't know if this is different from others in this genre, but it's what I like to read and therefore, what I like to write.

I am not sure if my fiction is different from others in its genre, mostly because I don't know what genre I'm writing in. I mean, yes, it's mostly about death, but they're not mystery stories, or gothic stories, or goth stories. You tell me! A sample of my fiction can be found here.
3) Why do I write what I do?

Non-fiction: I like to see how these folks fit into their society, and how they interacted with others. It also makes me understand history a lot more when I can read about one regular person and seeing their lives can be put into context by how they lived through major events in history. 

Fiction: I only recently that I discovered that pretty much everything I write has a death of some sort, whether it be a character that dies, or discusses someone who died in the past, or someone's experience is so devastating that their soul dies, or the environment dies. I'm not all that gloomy in real life, so I don't really know how to explain this, except that without death, there is no life. And that death is an integral part of life on earth. So I write about it in order to understand it, I guess.
I wrote it, and you can buy it!
4) How does my writing process work?

It alternates between agonizing, painful, and snail-like punctuated with wild ideas that couldn't possibly be workable. Somehow, the two poles come together in a glorious mess. 

My non-fiction ideas come from reading. When I read about some aspect or event that I want to know more about it, my first instinct is to see if there's a book I can read about it. If there isn't, I start researching, and sometimes, I write a book about the subject. 

That's what happened when I wrote my book about Lillian Alling. Lillian was a young Eastern-European immigrant who was living in New York. Like many immigrants, she missed her home in the old country and wanted to return home. But she chose a different method than most. She figured she could walk to Siberia and head home from there. Starting in 1926, Lillian walked across North America, and was in Nome Alaska by the late summer of 1929. She was extremely eccentric, and an extraordinary woman.

When I first heard of Lillian, I figured the story was just a folk tale. But a bit of research proved me wrong. By then I was so intrigued, I wanted to read a book about her, but couldn't find one that fit the bill. So I wrote one myself. Wanna read it? American readers, click here for the e-book. Click here for the paperback. Canadian? Click here for the ebook. And here for the paperback.

Well, that's enough from me. But, next week, March 17 , check out the following three authors who will continue the blog hop over on their own blogs:

Amalia Dillin is the author of the Fate of the Gods Trilogy.
Find her on these sites:

Jenna Willett is a native of Denver, Colorado. Currently, she's working as a Lead Copywriter for a Denver ad agency, while pursuing her ultimate dream as a traditionally published author. 
In 2011, she optioned one of her young adult manuscripts to Envision Media Arts, a film, television and commercial production company based at Paramount Studios. She also enjoys writing the occasional short story or flash fiction piece, including her most recent, "Chasing Monsters". 
Besides writing, Jenna is proud to call herself a book lover advocate. It's rare to find her without a novel in her bag, especially one from the ever expanding YA genre. Through her blog and her own words, she's determined to instill a great passion for reading in those around her. 

Find her here:
Twitter: @jenspenden

Robin Diana Ashe is the author of Empire State Vamps and dark faerie tales.
She can be found here:
Twitter: @VampWriterGRRL

And thank you to Matt Posner, novelist and teacher, for introducing me to this blog hop. Here's how you can find Matt:
Twitter:   @schooloftheages

And me? I can be found on Twitter @susmithjosephy and at the links on the top right side of this blog.