Thursday, April 1, 2010

Talking about Disasters at Sir. Mackenzie Bowell

Hello to Sir Mackenzie Bowell Public School in Belleville and Mrs. Yearwood. I just finished a SKYPE visit with them and we talked about Leaving Fletchville and Canadian Disasters. I enjoyed the good questions and the opportunity we had to connect. The students were great listeners, and although their images looked a bit fuzzy toward the end, they still looked like a handsome and intelligent bunch. We talked about various jobs I have had and how that helps me write better. I pointed out to them that compared to all the jobs I have done teaching was by far the hardest job of them all. Exhausting! They were surprised to hear that like many writers who are published only in Canada, I would make more of an income mowing lawns than I do writing books for kids. But I prefer writing to mowing lawns...

This is a photo of the Edumond Fitzgerald in better times (click on the photo to see it in better detail). It sank in November of 1975, during a terrible storm on Lake Superior, taking the entire crew of 29 sailors to their deaths in a matter of minutes. Gordon Lightfoot wrote a famous song about her after reading a small news item on the third page of a newspaper. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is known to most adult Canadians who were around at that time.

Now imagine eight ships, similar in size to the Edmund Fitzgerald, which also sank 'with all hands' (all the sailors drowned) in a single weekend storm in November of 1913. The largest ship in Canada and the British Commonwealth, was the James C. Carruthers.

She was only a few months old, her paint was barely dry, and she was one of these eight which sank with all hands. Now add to this image about twenty-two more steel hulled, large ocean-going sized ships like this, and see them all blown ashore and destroyed around Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.Many of the wrecks were completely lost and remain undiscovered. Altogether 245 Canadian and American men and women died and most of their bodies were never recovered. Unfortunately we, as Canadians, barely know about these events.
Boy I really get into this stuff!

Canadian history is full of fascinating tales like this and I enjoy learning about new ones and writing about them too. One of the questions I was asked was why I chose to write non-fiction as well as fiction. The truth is that some non-fiction stories are a lot more interesting than fiction because these amazing things actually happened to somebody. Imagine that!

Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to visit electronically.

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