Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Via One (Edmonton - Jasper - Kamloops - Vancouver)

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The train was three hours late getting into Edmonton, so our trip didn’t start until after noon. We stalled several times in the outskirts of town and were forced to stare out at parking lots of uhauls and discarded farm equipment for what seemed an eternity. Lunch was already being served, so we went down to the dining car where a slim lady with a French accent handed us menus and took our orders. She told us she lived on one of the Gulf Islands, but that she’d grown up in Quebec City. We asked whether she’d be returning to Quebec for the celebrations that summer. With a shrug, she claimed she couldn’t afford the trip – which we didn’t understand since, presumably, any rail travel she took was free – and, besides, she was now a west coast girl.

Before I received my “Canadian onion soup” (like its French counterpart, but without the cheese), we were joined at the table by two men who immediately ordered four cans of beer. One of them spoke about the money he was making out west, installing and repairing heating units throughout Edmonton. When winter was cold, business did well. He reflected, in glowing terms, on his own abilities. He rolled up his sleeve and showed his left arm, the bones of which had been replaced with metal, the result of a terrible rooftop fall he’d suffered several years back. Our concerns were quickly allayed: workers compensation had covered the entire seven-hundred-thousand dollar expense.

It wasn’t until Jasper that the surrounding countryside became interesting. Afterwards, the forests grew lush and the peaks precipitous. I went to the dome car to get a better look. Drops of rain had appeared on the glass of its ribbed ceiling. I looked up and tried not to listen to the conversations of sociable passengers – these from Victoria, those from the Isle of Man – thinking instead that the mountains resembled brittle pieces of powder-dipped chocolate. The association may have come from the image of the Swiss Matterhorn against a light blue backdrop on the packages of Lindt chocolate my grandfather used to buy. Or it may have been part of my attempt to make of nature something palatable, something containable, something that was mine.

We arrived in Vancouver yesterday. Our west coast launch for Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started will be tomorrow, Tuesday, May 20 at Blackberry Books on Granville Island (1666 Johnston Street) at 5:00 pm. Please pass the information on to anyone you may know in this, the “sculpted city.”

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Alexander Herman, Paul Matthews and Andrew Feindel

Alexander Herman, Paul Matthews and Andrew Feindel are the authors of Kickstart: How Successful Canadians Got Started (Dundurn Press, 2008). Kickstart profiles over 30 prominent Canadians who explain how they started their careers.

Go to Alexander Herman, Paul Matthews and Andrew Feindel ’s Author Page