I am fascinated by the history of the province I call home. I love hearing the stories of the First Nations people, tales of the North West Mounted Police, the escapades of the fur traders, and the triumphs and trials of the European immigrants. Even as a contemporary writer, history has a place in my writing. I need to know a bit about the history of a place to get a sense of it as its own character. Just as characters have backstory, so do settings.
My debut release Backlash is set in the southeastern part of Saskatchewan, a western province of Canada. My fictional town of Aspen Lake is based on the Moose Mountain Provincial Park and Kenosee Lake area. The word 'mountain' is deceiving. It’s really hills that rise from the surrounding prairies: an elevated plateau of aspen forest, rolling hills, lakes and ponds. It’s a beautiful part of the province and I have many happy childhood memories of visiting the beach for the day or camping there for a couple of nights. My love affair began at an early age.
|Chalet Moose Mountain|
The area would have been a popular recreation spot as far back as the 1880’s and used by the residents of a nearby village called Cannington Manor. Cannington Manor is a historic park a fifteen minute car ride away. It was settled by a middle-class Englishman, Captain Edward Mitchell Pierce, who had likely been encouraged by the Canadian government’s desire to welcome good English families to the prairies. Ones who would bring their Victorian type of lifestyle with them. Among other endeavors, Captain Pierce came up with the idea of setting up an agricultural college for the sons of wealthy Englishmen. Alas, it’s hard to pull that off when you don’t know much about farming yourself. The wild and harsh prairie was not Victorian England.
|Fox Hunting at Cannington Manor|
Grain prices fell. Harsh conditions and drought destroyed crops. Business and farm bankruptcy followed. When the Canadian Pacific Railroad bypassed the village in the early 1900’s it spelled the end of an unrealistic ideal. Many of the wealthier formerly-English residents moved away and took their money with them. Soon Cannington Manor was all but abandoned.
|All Saints Anglican Church, Cannington Manor|
We circle back round to contemporary times. To love a place is to know a place. Do you have a favorite place whose history fascinates you?
I grew up on a farm in the middle of Canada's breadbasket. Under the canopy of crisp blue prairie skies I read books. Lots and lots of books. Occasionally, I picked up a pen and paper or tapped out a few meagre pages of a story on a keyboard and dreamed of becoming a writer when I grew up. One day the inevitable happened and I knew without question the time was right. What to write was never the issue--romance and the gut wrenching journey towards forever.
What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves...