Sunday, 24 July 2022

Save the date! Joint book launch at the GAC on Aug. 20.

Hope to see you at our joint launch! Although our books are in different genres – mine a novel, Gloria's a memoir 
– they are both coming-of-age stories with historical themes. Looking forward to your questions and comments. Should be great fun.

The Hotelkeeper’s Daughter, Gloria Levi's fictionalized memoir spanning the period from the late Depression to 1948, is a moving account of her childhood in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, and her disrupted life as the “hotelkeeper’s daughter” in a series of Catskills and New Jersey hotels rented seasonally and later bought by her entrepreneurial mother to pull the family out of poverty. This coming-of-age story is told from two perspectives: through the eyes of Gilda, the youngest in her family, who clashes with her mother, and through the eyes of the author on Gabriola as she reflects on the life lessons she has learned over her nine decades.

My contemporary coming-of-age novel, Love and Courage in Troubled Times, deals with the persecution of the Cathars in 13th century France from the perspective of a Vancouver teen. When she is forced to accompany her family to a Cathar village in the South of France so her father can finish his book on the Cathars, she starts seeing flashes of the tragic events that happened centuries earlier and gets caught up in a series of adventures that remind us that troubled times are always with us.

Friday, 4 June 2021


“Gripping and informative – a perfect combination.”

A tale that will not only thrill young readers but also reveal the strength of the human spirit.

What happened in the Age of the Troubadours becomes relevant to our own Troubled Times.

So excited that my latest novel for teens and young adults is finally published. I'm excited that people are reading it and giving me great feedback. Love the cover designed by my editor/publisher/friend Morri Mostow of Fictive Press right here on Gabriola Island. Can't wait until we can launch the book safely at the Gabriola Library when pandemic restrictions are eased enough. 


Sunday, 12 November 2017

I am so impressed by the work the Port Moody Station Museum has done to help us all try to comprehend what it must have been like for soldiers in the trenches during WW1.  Through Monique Renaud, Public Relations Manager of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and Markus Fahrner of the Port Moody Station Museum, it was arranged that I would read from my play Running: The Alex Decoteau Story at a Candlelight Vigil at the Museum on November 10th.
First the audience was in the Museum to hear a very informative talk on Passchendaele by John Goheen. Then they were given covered candles to carry into the trenches for the vigil. I stood on a second floor deck of the Museum, very moved to look down at the candles in the trenches, as I read excerpts from my play. People told me afterwards that they felt they knew Alex Decoteau because of hearing details such as his height, small pox vaccination mark, and tattoo on his left arm. I was also able to read excerpts from the last letter Alex Decoteau wrote home to his sister, Emily. A few days before he was shot by a sniper while running a message at the Battle of Passchendaele he wrote, “Give my love to Grannie when you see her. Love to the children. Remember me to what few friends I have left. For yourself love and affection from your brother, Alex.

I would like to thank all the people at the Port Moody Station Museum for putting on this wonderful event which will lift up our hearts and help the spirit of Alex Decoteau live on.
Photo by Tom Cameron of Charlotte with the The Gabriola Sounder for event promotion.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Monday, 2 October 2017

Opening of New Alex Decoteau Park in Edmonton

Credit: Rick Beauchamp
The official opening of Alex Decoteau Park in Edmonton on September 16, 2017 was a stirring event. The 16 foot sculpture, Esprit by Pierre Poussin, captures the spirit of Alex Decoteau who has been remembered since he was shot by a sniper while running a message at the Battle of Passchendaele, on October 30, 1917.

The lore is, if this popular Olympic runner and Canada’s first Indigenous policeman saw a car going more than 15 miles an hour he would run after it and give the driver a speeding ticket. A few years later when he was a soldier at the front, Alex wrote to his sister, Emily, saying soldiers would shake his hand and ask if he remembered ticketing them.

Alex has always been remembered by his extended family, friends and admirers. His great-niece, Izola Mottershead, who saved his letters to Emily, spoke at the opening. One can’t help but wonder what Alex would think about a park in his name. In one letter to Emily he wrote, “Give my love to Grannie when you see her. Love to the children. Remember me to what few friends I’ve left. For yourself, Good wishes, love and affection, from your brother Alex.”

The park opening was a joyous occasion, attended by friends and relations who have kept the story running and Alex Decoteau’s memory will continue to lift up our hearts, just like the sculpture soaring above the crowd.
Credit: Rick Beauchamp

Friday, 4 August 2017

Malcolm Lowry's Nephew on Gabriola!

Sue Colvin, Charlotte Cameron, Nick Colvin
It was pure serendipity that I discovered that Malcolm Lowry's nephew, Nick Colvin, and his wife Sue, both Londoners, were spending a few days visiting Gabriola Island this summer. They were following the Malcolm Lowry connection to the island. Thanks to Tovalis at Surf Lodge, who spotted them, and Alison Douglas, who introduced herself and got Sue's email address for me, I was able to contact them and invite them over to our home. They were as delighted to learn about my play, October Ferries to Gabriolaas we were to meet them.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

What is the difference between a radio play and a staged play?

The performance on October 2, 2016 at Surf  Lodge:
Tina Jones, Chris Jans, Drew Staniland,
Kathy McIntyre, David Botten 
I got to find out for myself when I stepped in to one of the roles at a rehearsal for my radio play, October Ferries to Gabriola. (By candlelight because of a power outage.) All I had to do was read the lines in the script, while the actors did everything else.

It is so cramped and busy up there at a mic, and the actors play several parts, often with different accents. There are no separate scenes written into the script, it’s a matter of swiping back and forth, sometimes with a narrator setting the scene.

A radio play moves faster than a staged play. There’s no pausing, no chance to catch your breath. And surprisingly, the actors don’t just stand there. They move around, over to the typewriter, over to the shoes that make the walking sounds, whistles for bird calls, and neatly arranged pieces of glass which sound just like a glass breaking when hit together.

Kathy McIntyre played Margerie, an actressy actress, who shook her bracelets for emphasis. Finding the perfect bracelets was a bit of a challenge, but they were effective, dangling from a string tied to a microphone.

The actors had to practice to keep from laughing. They didn’t slip up once, but they knew that, if they did, the audience would get a kick out of it.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Treasure Hunting in UBC's Rare Books Collection

 I’ve often dreamed of viewing Malcolm Lowry’s books and papers, which are part of the Rare Books & Special Collections at the University of British Columbia.

Events conspired and I had a chance in November to visit the collection. Now I understand why scholars from all over the world come to Vancouver to pour over Lowry’s writing with magnifying glasses.

The library is beautiful and well managed. No notebooks are allowed but the staff supply paper and pencils. Cameras are permitted, with conditions. I was given a nice overview and asked where I would like to start.

I decided to look through a box of photographs, mainly taken by Margerie and Malcolm after 1946. I also mentioned that I would like to see anything about Dylan Thomas’s visit to Vancouver. Dylan Thomas has several mentions in my radio play, October Ferries to Gabriola, as he and Lowry were friends and fellow writers. They met for the last time in 1950 when Thomas was touring, but there isn’t much information about the meeting.

Both had been working on their own masterpieces for years. Lowry had always used the title Under the Volcano, and it is generally agreed that Thomas changed the title of his play to Under Milkwood, as a tribute to Lowry.

So, there I was, with white gloves on, looking at a folder marked “Dylan Thomas.” The librarian opened it and said in a disappointed voice, “Oh, it’s a postcard.” A small item, but what a find! A personal note from Dylan Thomas to Malcolm Lowry, hoping they would be able to meet in Vancouver. For me it is proof of the affection Thomas had for Lowry. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Why the title October Ferries to Gabriola?

This was tricky. I really wanted to call my play October Ferry to Gabriola, using the same title as Lowry’s novel. But the title of Lowry’s novel made the distinction from the play confusing. I thought of other titles, but in the end decided on October Ferries to Gabriola as the title for the radio play.

There are two ferries in the play. One, the Atrevida, historically, carried Malcolm and Margerie Lowry to Gabriola. They really did come here for a few days!

The other ferry is the current MV Quinsam, which transports a fictional couple who, like the Lowrys, share the dream of finding a home where they can live, love and write. Their lives are mirrors, reflecting troubles, hopes and dreams similar to those of the historic couple.

I would eventually pull the contemporary couple out, and concentrate just on the Lowrys. However, they give me an interesting opportunity to incorporate more information about Malcolm and Margerie, and, to throw in my own opinions, wild as they might be.

All over the world people continue to do research on Malcolm Lowry. The contemporary couple provide an opportunity to add current information and ideas to the story.

There is interesting information about the old ferry, the Atrevida, in Lowry’s novel, October Ferry to Gabriola. On October 6th I joined a group on the Nanaimo side for the unveiling of an historic plaque by the Gabriola Museum at the Nanaimo terminal of the Gabriola ferry. The plaque is a fitting tribute to Malcolm Lowry.

Thanks to BC Ferries, the plaque will remain on the outside of the ferry terminal. Travellers can be transported back in time as they get on the ferry and journey towards Gabriola, following the same route, with roughly the same scenery, as when Malcolm and Margerie Lowry made the trip in 1946.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Oh What Fun it is to Make Sound Effects

Tina Jones
Almost every day when I’m out and about on the island, someone tells me about their favourite part of my radio play, October Ferries to Gabriola, performed at the Surf  Lodge on October 2 &3!

The actors like to make their own sound effects. It’s a lot more work but worth it. I liked the sound of the door opening and closing and so one of my favourite props is the door. Virtuoso David Botten, opened and closed it with flair. In rehearsals he provided a running commentary on his actions, such as saying he “closed the door, sarcastically”.

Chris Jans tried out two or three prototypes before coming up with the perfect “body bag” which he would drop each time the drunken Malcolm Lowry fell in the play. The bag eventually contained, baseballs, pillows etc. and made quite a thud. Chris also was great on an old typewriter, clacking the keys and whipping pages in and out with a flourish.

Kathy McIntyre, glamorous as usual, found a sparkly ball to signal the magic realism in the play. And of course, her singing was terrific. In the campfire scene someone asks Margerie (Kathy) to sing a song. It was so beautiful, I wish I’d asked her to sing the whole song, made popular in the twenties.

The other actors joined in and it was deliberately realistic, the way they acted it out, saying they knew the words but then singing the wrong words.

Tina Jones carried her version of the song, throughout the play. Tina had two big roles, and I learned a lot from her about writing dialogue.

And that Drew Staniland! He made Malcolm Lowry come alive. He played the ukulele, even used it to round the audience up and back to their seats after intermission. He made the biggest wooden contraption to make the tiniest sound effect in the play. Drew continued to tell the Malcolm Lowry story with his English accent a day later at the library’s presentation of the National Film Board documentary, An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry.

Malcolm Lowry Plaque Unveiled on October 6, 2016

 Next time you're waiting for the Gabriola ferry in Nanaimo, be sure to take a look at the new plaque commemorating Malcolm Lowry's visit to Gabriola Island in 1946. The unveiling of this plaque was part of the weeklong events on Gabriola celebrating this iconic author.

October Ferries to Gabriola a Smash Hit!

Drew Staniland, Kathy McIntyre, David Botten
What a thrill to see the premiere of my radio play, October Ferries to Gabriola, at Surf Lodge where Malcolm and Margerie Lowry stayed in 1946.
The play was first performed as a staged reading at The Roxy Theatre in 2009, The Poetry Gabriola Festival in 2010 at Dragon’s Lodge, and the 2013 Islands Study Conference at The Haven, all on Gabriola. 

I was thrilled to have the radio play performed this year for the 70th Anniversary Celebration of Malcolm Lowry’s 1946 visit to Gabriola. Drew Staniland as Malcolm Lowry, joined the cast of Twilight Radio Theatre’s Kathy McIntyre, Chris Jans, Tina Jones and David Botten.

Tina Jones, Chris Jans, Drew Staniland, Kathy McIntyre, David Botten
The Surf dining-room was packed both nights. White tablecloths and sparkling glasses added to the festive glow. The audience loved every minute of it. Dinner guests discussed the Lowry story. Did the Lowrys dine in that very room where the play was performed? In 1946 the Surf was Anderson Lodge and it was smaller. Guests discussed possibilities and I’m going to try to find the answers. Is the current dining room an addition? Another topic of discussion was the fact that October Ferry to Gabriola, the novel, was published posthumously, unlike Lowry’s iconic Under the Volcano, which he himself rewrote several times. 

Academics from UBC joked that coming to Gabriola was a true Lowry experience. Due to the three-day power outage, they couldn’t make it the first night, and had to stay in Nanaimo! In spite of the outage beforehand, the anniversary event was a huge success. One day built upon the next.

The first day featured Lowry expert Sherrill Grace, PhD, Malcolm Lowry Scholar: “My October Ferry to Gabriola and Other Journeys with Lowry”.

My play followed on October 2 and 3. Then on October 4th, our library showed the documentary, Volcano - an inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry, hosted by Drew Staniland.

On October 5th, an original video made that very week by Wendy and Richard Strachan ran continuously in the library. This was an interview with Gloria Levi, one of Lowry’s neighbours at Dollarton in the fifties. On the 6th was the unveiling of the historic plaque on the outside of the ferry terminal, on the Nanaimo side. Later that day there was a screening of Under the Volcano – based on Lowry’s iconic novel. Hosted by Wendy Strachan.

Thursday, 11 August 2016


I can’t help but think of Alex Decoteau as I watch events from the Olympics in Rio. Alex competed in the 5,000 metre race at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

Running was his passion. As a policeman in Edmonton in 1910, he had to run after cars speeding over 15 mph down Jasper Avenue and ticket the drivers. No one seemed to hold it against him. Imagine getting a speeding ticket from a champion runner!