Author Tags: Fishing, Literary Landmarks
LITERARY LOCATION: 5192 Claydon Road, Garden Bay, Sunshine Coast
In a history-sated, waterfront cottage that was built by her second husband, John Daly, about whom she wrote her memoir Fishing With John, here the former New Yorker contributor Edith Iglauer Daly also lived with her equally remarkable third husband, Frank White, who published two volumes of bestselling memoirs when he was aged 99 and 100. Franklin Wetmore White was born May 9, 1914 in Sumas, Washington and he died on October 18, 2015.
"I am not just an American journalist writing about Canada for Americans," Edith Iglauer Daly once said, "but a Canadian journalist writing about America for Canadians as well... I want them to know and respect one another as much as I do."
Born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10, 1917, Edith Iglauer grew up in a comfortably well-off Cleveland family. She began selling her articles to newspapers in her hometown while she attended the School of Journalism at Columbia University. She married writer/editor Philip Hamburger and raised two sons in New York. One is Jay Hamburger, artistic director for Theatre In the Raw in Vancouver; the other is Richard Hamburger, a teacher and director of theatre in New York City.
As a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, Iglauer chiefly wrote about Canada. Her first book, The New People (1966, reprinted and updated as Inuit Journey in 1979 and 2000), chronicled the growth of indigenous people's cooperatives in the eastern Arctic.
Divorced in 1966, she first came to Vancouver in 1973 for an assignment to write about fishing. She subsequently met and married John Heywood Daly, a sophisticated but overtly rough-hewn commercial salmon troller. A romance ensued when John Daly took her aboard his cramped and toilet-less 41-foot troller, MoreKelp, for a dinner of sautéed salmon and champagne. Returning to New York, Iglauer was awakened by a phone call from Pender Harbour. "I've just bought a wooden toilet seat that I think will fit very well on top of that pail on the boat," Daly said, "It's sky-blue, and I paid eight dollars and fifty-five cents for it."
"Lovely," she replied, "But it's two o' clock in the morning. What about it?"
"What about it?" he shouted back. "Marriage! That's what!"
She moved to his home at Garden Bay (part of Pender Harbour) on the B.C. coast in 1974 but she did not entirely sever her ties with the sophisticated hurly-burly of New York. John Daly died on a dance floor in 1978.
After writing Seven Stones: A Portrait of Arthur Erickson, Architect (1981), Edith Iglauer Daly began recording her memories of her late husband and his salmon troller. The result was Fishing with John, a bestseller and nominee for the 1989 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction. It recounts how Iglauer left New York to live with an iconoclastic fisherman as a "fishwife" aboard the Morekelp. Yes, there are fish. But readers were intrigued to learn about how John Daly always turned off the engines every afternoon to listen to classical music on CBC.
Acclaimed by Publishers Weekly as "superb", excerpted by Saturday Night and the New Yorker, Fishing With John was intended to serve as a scrupulous celebration of commercial fishing, not a depiction of true-life romance. But the soul of the book turned out to be the Shakespeare-loving trade unionist John Daly. "What I hate more than anything," Daly says "are polite arseholes who' agree. That's the road to destruction of mental protein. I believe in struggle -and that physical and moral softness is death, and that we human beings can do anything."
Fishing With John became the basis for a Hallmark movie, Navigating the Heart (2000), starring one of the former Charlie's Angels, Jaclyn Smith. (The producers had intended to call the movie Fishing with John from the outset, but they were later prevented from doing because concurrently and coincidentally there was a sport fishing television series in the United States called Fishing with John.)
During the making of the made-for-TV movie, Jaclyn Smith, the actor once voted the most beautiful woman in the world, received an autographed copy of Edith Iglauer’s West Coast memoir from the author. “It was interesting to see myself portrayed by someone younger and more beautiful than I am,” Iglauer laughed. “I hope the movie is reasonably honest about fishing... About the only criticism I could make is that the actors weren’t dirty enough. They didn’t have blood all over themselves!”
Retaining her surname Iglauer for publication purposes, Edith Iglauer Daly released a collection of shorter works gleaned from her career in journalism, The Strangers Next Door (1991), having profiled Pierre Trudeau in 1969 and internationally known architect Arthur Erickson in 1979. An original manuscript of her travels in northern Canada, Denison's Ice Road (1991) is about the building of a 325-mile winter road above the Arctic Circle.
After marrying Frank White, father of Harbour Publishing publisher Howard White, Edith Iglauer Daly White received her doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, from the University of Victoria November 15, 2006 to celebrate her sixty years of writing as a journalist and author. “I started writing when I was a small girl, and I still write because I can’t stop writing,” she said. “… I can’t emphasize enough the importance of good teaching at an early age.”
Lynne Van Luven, as acting chair of the UVic's writing department, emphasized Edith’s amazing work as a journalist over the past decades in her citation: "Edith has always been attracted to ground-breaking stories, whether they involved laying the foundations of the World Trade Centre… the building of an ice road in the Arctic, the making of a prime minister or the thinking of a West Coast fisherman. She maintains that journalists are the watchdogs of democracy; she believes in the power of the “still small voice of truth."
Iglauer and Frank White continued to live together in John Daly's former house at Garden Bay until 2015, during which time Frank White published two volumes of autobiography, the second volume of which describes their union and their travels. On a par with John Daly for homespun wisdom and sharp wit, Frank White jokes about what it's like living in a shrine to his wife's second husband, noting his marriage to her has lasted much longer.
Frank White started writing the story of his life in 1972 when he was nearly sixty. It took him over four decades to finish his book and get it published. Along the way, his boisterous yarn in Raincoast Chronicles about wrangling tiny trucks overloaded with huge logs down steep mountains with no brakes won the Canadian Media Club award for Best Magazine Feature. It was reprinted so many times everyone urged him to write more.
As a 100-year-old former truck driver, logger, gas station operator, “excavationist” (bulldozer operator extraordinaire) and waterworks technician, Frank White released a follow-up to his first book, Milk Spills and One-Log Loads: Memories of a Pioneer Truck Driver (Harbour 2014). He was accompanied to the book launch for the second volume of his memoirs, That Went By Fast (Harbour 2015) by his 97-years-young wife, Edith Iglauer.
[BCBW 2015] "Fishing" "Classic" "Arctic" "Movie"
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Fishing With John
EDITH IGLAUER (1988)
EDITH IGLAUER was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She married Philip Hamburger and raised two sons in New York. A frequent contributor to the New Yorker, she has nonetheless written a great deal about Canada. Her first book, The New People: The Eskimo's Journey Into Our Time (1966, reprinted and updated as Inuit journey in 1979) chronicled the growth of native cooperatives in the eastern Arctic. She profiled Pierre Trudeau in 1969 and internationally known architect Arthur Erickson in 1979. Denison's Ice Road (1975) is about the building of a 325-mile winter road to the Arctic Circle. Divorced in 1966, she came to Vancouver in 1973. She married John Heywood Daly, a commercial salmon troller, and moved to Garden Bay on the BC coast, John Daly died in 1978, After writing Seven Stones: A Portrait of Arthur Erickson, Architect (1981), she began recording her memories of her late husband and his salmon troller the Morekelp. The result is Fishing With John (1988), a memoir. Edith Iglauer divides her time between Garden Bay, BC and New York. She was interviewed in 1988.
T: In 1945, at the end of World War II, you were in Yugoslavia as a correspondent for the Cleveland News. Was that the beginning of your career?
IGLAUER: Well, I didn't know how to manoeuvre myself around professionally until I made that trip. It gave me some confidence in myself. I had articles published. I was paid ten dollars an article. When I got home the editor, Nat Howard, gave me a bonus of a hundred dollars. That pretty well paid for all my expenses. I was technically a captain in the US Army and we ate in army messes.
T: Why did you go?
IGLAUER: My husband Philip Hamburger went over for the New Yorker as their war correspondent in the Mediterranean theatre. He was there at the death of Mussolini and did a terrific story on it. Hanging upside down and everything. I was trying to join him, so I got myself accredited to the News, which was my hometown paper. I was able to sell the idea to Nat because I planned to go to Yugoslavia and Cleveland has a big Slavic population.
I was the only woman on the Army transport plane. The soldiers were darling to me. They carried my luggage; they really took care of me. I was just a kid still. I landed in Casablanca because I didn't know where I was going. That's where the plane went, and then I had to get myself to Italy, where Phil was. I remember going to Italy, flying over the Bay of Naples. The door blew out of the plane. All of sudden there was this tremendous rush of air. Everybody fell on the legs of the man sitting with his back at the open doorway, holding him down. I can remember sitting there, watching this door sailing over the Bay of Naples, like a great bird.
T: Once you've survived in a bizarre, post-war situation, you can reasonably expect to manage in Northern Quebec or Great Slave Lake.
IGLAUER: That's right. The damage, the destruction. Everything was still in ruins. There wasn't enough food. I remember the manager of the hotel in Belgrade came up and had coffee with us every morning because I had brought some powdered coffee with me. From that experience overseas I learned that I'm good at parlaying myself. For instance, in Casablanca I just sat where the planes came in and waited for a space. When I'm on a story I just follow along and let it take me wherever it will.
T: You go passively into situations. But you can also use passivity to manipulate people, to help get information.
IGLAUER: Well, I have found that if you are patient while you're doing a story, the other person is apt to say what you want to hear. If my work is good, it's because I want to hear what's truly going on. It's much better for me to sit there and let things happen. I was trained by the New Yorker not to have the writer as the most important person in the story. I learned a lot from A.J. Liebling. He was one of the great writers of the New Yorker. Actually, he was notorious for just sitting out his subject. Eventually his subject would break down and begin to babble. If you sit there long enough, amazing things come out.
T: How was Pierre Trudeau to interview?
IGLAUER: He was terrible about giving me one-to-one time.
T: Was that conscious on his part? To show you where the power lay?
IGLAUER: Yes. Very much so. I don't know if any New Yorker profile has ever been done where the subject gave so little time personally as he gave me. I had to report around him, get almost all my information from other people. Then when he did see me on a one-to-one basis, it was at lunch at his house. He had a deliberate habit of speaking so fast I couldn't keep up. I had to take notes under the table, but he would never have said the things he said to me with a tape recorder on.
T: Has your estimation of Trudeau changed since 1968?
IGLAUER: I was horrified with the War Measures Act. I'm sorry to say there must have been something wrong with my reporting because it caught me by surprise. Other than that, by comparison with what's happened since, I still think he's the best prime minister we've had. The present one, Mulroney, is not going to ever get a prize for what's going on inside his head.
T: You're on the New Yorker staff. Does that mean you have to submit a certain number of articles every year?
IGLAUER: No. I sign a contract every year giving them first reading of my work and I am always, it seems, working on something for the New Yorker.
T: How many people are on that "staff'?
IGLAUER: I have no idea. Nobody I know knows.
T: Your old friend Hubert Evans used to joke that any writing in the New Yorker was just filler between the ads.
IGLAUER: But he was very, very encouraging to me. One of the reasons I had to finish this book, Fishing with John, is that Hubert leaned in the doorway of his house one night as I was leaving and quoted the Scripture to me. He said it was my sacred duty to finish this book. He was always telling me about the fin on the salmon that had become useless. If you didn't use your talents, they will become useless. I was so sorry he didn't live to see me finish this book.
The last time I saw him, which was just before he died, he suddenly turned over in bed and told me what a wonderful writer he thought I was and that I had to finish the book about john. He went on for about twenty minutes. And this was from a man who was having trouble talking. It was very, very moving.
T: Did you learn anything about writing from Hubert?
IGLAUER: How could you not learn from a man who couldn't see and who wrote a whole book at the age of eighty-seven? I think his last book 0 Time In Your Flight is really a classic, on a par with W.O. Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind. It's a beautiful piece of work, no matter what his age was when he wrote it. It's almost perfect for what it is. And I think it's criminal that it wasn't given the Governor General's Award. Hubert had a tremendous influence on me. How the devil could I not learn about courage and determination from him? And also about the ability to adjust as you get older. Now I don't dare say to myself, "Well, I'm getting too old to do this or that."
T: Because you remember.
IGLAUER: Because I remember. It was Hubert, more than any other single person, who put me back together after john died. Those Tuesday evening discussion groups at Hubert's saved my life. There was nothing that I wanted to do after john died except die myself. But those Tuesdays at Hubert's were like an electric light; things suddenly began to come alive again, like lights that started to flicker.
He also introduced me to a very close friend of his named Maxie Southwell. I remember the day he put on his coat and got out his white walking stick. He was very old by then. I don't think he'd been out of his house for quite a while. We walked across the dunes to Maxie's house, two or three doors down the beach, and she was waiting. We all had tea together. Maxie served bread and butter and jam. I remember laughing and thinking, "My God, I'm enjoying myself." Maxie, who died before Hubert, although she was a good ten years younger, was very nurturing. With her, I could do no wrong. And to her I was absolutely beautiful.
T: They were like a mother and father.
IGLAUER: Yes. Over the years I never went through Roberts Creek on my way home without staying the night at Maxie's. Of course Hubert was not so thoroughly approving. He was very Calvinist. For instance, he thought I wasted time, and that I was much too social. After John died, in the beginning, I couldn't even sleep. It was like an engine running that would never stop. It was simply terrible. But the minute I got down to Hubert's I would fall asleep. It used to enrage him. He would stop all discussion and say, "Edith You're sleeping again!" I couldn't help it. I was at peace down there.
T: Did he have a spiritual influence?
IGLAUER: About three weeks after John died, the first time I was going up the coast to be alone in my house, I stopped and saw Hubert. I was crying and Hubert said, "You're expecting too much, too soon. You have to wait a while for John to come back. Don't be in so much of a hurry. He's got lots to do." This was a wonderful thought. To think that this man was going to come back into my spirit or whatever it was that Hubert definitely believed. Hubert always believed that his wife was still there in the next room. I really held on to that idea. Waiting for it to happen. It probably would have happened without Hubert, but it wouldn't have happened so gracefully. Even now I can't talk about Hubert Evans without wanting to cry. He was so wonderful to me.
T: Does Fishing With John communicate what you want it to communicate?
IGLAUER: I can't tell. I wouldn't be surprised if it only sold twelve copies. Or maybe it will sell a lot. I have no judgement on it. I just had to write it. And when I wrote it I had no judgement on it. It was Bill Shawn of the New Yorker who kept encouraging me. He says it's the best thing I've ever written. I don't know whether it is or not. I'm astonished that everybody likes it so much. It's made several people weep, which has surprised me.
T: Because it's a love story.
IGLAUER: I can't tell. When I started this I was just going to do a piece on fishing for Bill Shawn. Then John died. That transformed the whole thing. What I wanted to do was keep John alive and to have other people know this simply wonderful man. I was so afraid he might recede. There's no question it was a form of survival for me. Bill said, "Just write it as it comes and I'll take what I need." One of the reasons it took so long to write is that I had an awful time describing that fishing gear on the troller. I had three fishermen reading it the whole time for accuracy. They read it three times each. When the book was ready to be published I got uneasy and I asked Reg Payne to read it too. He used to be the head of the UFUAW. All of them seemed to be fascinated. They made factual corrections but they didn't have a word of complaint.
T: You were with John Daly for only four and a half years. ..
IGLAUER: But my whole life changed as a result. It's the quality, not the quantity of the time spent that counts. I've had to learn to accept that. It's hard to believe I've lived more years without him than I lived with him.
T: Now, when things happen to you, do you sometimes see events through John Daly's eyes?
IGLAUER: Oh, all the time. All the time.
T: How did you meet him?
IGLAUER: A good friend in Washington asked me to look him up. I called and he shouted into the phone, "I'm terribly busy. I can't do anything about you. I'm cooking for a dozen people." He slammed the phone down. I thought he was very rude. Then a week later he called me. He arrived talking a blue streak, apologizing that he was wearing his fishing pants. In the middle of the evening he asked if I ever married again whether I wanted a big wedding or to just go off to a justice of the peace. He never stopped talking until two-thirty in the morning.
T: Was there a part of you that was expecting or needing that love affair with John Daly later in life? Or did it come to you as a surprise that it could exist?
IGLAUER: We were both very lonely. You don't admit your loneliness when nothing's happening that's going to make it less so. But when you meet somebody that has all the qualities that you love, and they need you and you need them, well. ..I think most relationships Occur out of proximity and need.
T: Excuse me for saying this- but it sounds like your life started with this relationship. You were obviously missing something before.
IGLAUER: I don't mean it to. I had a fascinating first marriage, and Phil and his wife Anna are among my best friends. I see them a lot when I am in New York. My life is definitely divided into two sectors. Living in the United States. And living in Canada. Basically I never really liked New York. It's not a city that excites me the way it does other people. I don't find it the beginning or the end of anything. New York always frightened me. I always wanted to live in the country.
Growing up in Ohio we had a place in the country, which I still own with my sister, thirty miles outside of Cleveland, where we went every single weekend. Sometimes my father would pick me up when he left work on Friday nights and we would go horseback riding out there. It was marvellous to ride at sunset. In the early years of having this cabin we didn't have any running water, just a pump. As very little girls, we had to wash our dishes in a stream. When I went to the Canadian north, I went right back to my childhood. Plodding along after my father in the snow, having cold feet and cold hands, and not complaining. That's where my adjustment to being outdoors comes from. It's no adjustment for me to go to the Arctic and not have a regular toilet.
T: So you're not running after sophistication.
IGLAUER: No. I'm not a sophisticated person. I never really wanted to be. Life here suits me better.
T: Does this mean Vancouver is the Cleveland of Canada?
IGLAUER: No! John used to always refer to Vancouver as being in Lower Funland. And Victoria was always Crumpet Town. Vancouver is not as advanced culturally here as Cleveland by any means. Cleveland has one of the great art museums of the United States and it also has the best symphony in the United States. The public support for the symphony orchestra here is apparently nil. And I don't see any great collections coming into the Vancouver Art Gallery. I mean, when you get through with Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt, what have you got? Not too much.
T: You've had two good experiences with marriage. That's two more than a lot of people have.
IGLAUER: Yes. I try to look at it that way. I had a psychiatrist say to me you must feel cheated because you had so little time with John. I said I could choose to think of it that way but I choose to think that I was the luckiest woman on earth to have him at all and to have years which were as happy as that. John said it was idyllic. And it was. Here were two people who loved each and completely trusted each other. It can be just as passionate and just as loving when you're older. And in some ways it can be better because you know what counts and what doesn't. And there's a lot of laughter about things you couldn't laugh about before. And of course all our children were grown so we just had each other. It was totally wonderful.
T: How did John die?
IGLAUER: He dropped dead while we were dancing.
T: Where was this?
IGLAUER: We were at an Indian reservation in The Pas, Manitoba. We were on our way to Thompson, Manitoba to see his son Sean, who is a mining geologist. His other son, Dick, was with us. We were going to have a reunion. But John had always wanted to go to the Trappers Festival. So we went there on the way. We were dancing and the room was full of smoke. I knew he had trouble breathing in stuffy places. He'd had a terrific heart attack before I met him, in 1962. I said to him, "I think we should leave now. There's not enough oxygen in here." He said, "Let's have one more dance. I'm doing just what I want to do, just where I want to be, with the person I want to dance with, and I'm completely happy."
Then when the music stopped he suddenly turned to me and said he couldn't breathe. He started for the door. By the time I got outside he was lying in the snow with his arms out. I started to laugh because I thought he was playing a game with me. As children we used to playa game called Angel Wings. For just a second, I thought that's what he was doing. Then I realized what had had happened.
My younger son asked me later what I thought about when John died. I remember so clearly what I thought. I saw my life stretching out in desolation. It was just desolate land. In a sense that's how it is inside. But I realized you can't mourn like that forever so I tried to do something positive and turn it around. So I'm happy in way, sure I am. But I miss him terribly.
T: That's a powerful idea. To die dancing.
IGLAUER: He was such a joyful man. If he had to die, that's the way he would have chosen. I think everyone who knew him at all well agreed on that.
[STRONG VOICES by Alan Twigg (Harbour 1988)] "Interview"
University of Victoria Convocation Address
Remarks by Edith Iglauer on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at University Centre Farquhar Auditorium in Victoria upon receiving her honorary doctorate:
I can hardly believe this great honour is happening to me! I started writing when I was a small girl, and I still write because I can’t stop writing. I sold my first articles to my home town newspapers in Cleveland, Ohio and to the first women’s page at The Christian Science Monitor while I was attending the School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1939. I continued to write for the afternoon Cleveland News for many years. Its editor, Nat Howard, was a beginning writer’s dream; critical, witty, and part teacher. He liked to say he gave me my start, and we remained friends as long as he lived.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of good teaching at an early age. My parents were determined that I attend university and switched me in high school to a college preparatory institution, Hathaway Brown School for Girls. I missed the boys, but I had two great teachers; Anna Blake in Latin, who revealed the magic music of Virgil’s poetry; and our otherwise formidable head mistress, Millicent Raymond, gave a thrilling course in creative writing and English literature. The day before graduation she called me into her office, and said “Never stop writing.” I hear her every time I start a new writing project.
My Mother was a constant reader, with excellent taste, a rollicking sense of humour and enthusiasm for any adventure my Father suggested. We spent almost every weekend at a small cabin by the Chagrin River outside Cleveland, which gave me a lifelong preference for country living. From the time I could walk or sit on a horse I hiked and rode with my Dad. I loved his free spirit, insatiable curiosity and passion for the environment.
Right after Pearl Harbour in World War II I went to work in Washington, D.C. in the radio news room of the Office of War Information. We relayed news from the free world and from Nazi-occupied countries to their inhabitants, who listened to our broadcasts at their peril. I was in charge of the Scandinavian and religious desks. At my suggestion we added coverage of Eleanor Roosevelt’s weekly press conference in the White House. As the newest and youngest reporter there, I kept my mouth shut, learned a lot and loved being part of her intimate circle of reporters. In 1945, I reluctantly left them to go overseas on assignment for The Cleveland News. I had married The New Yorker writer, Philip Hamburger, in Washington in 1942, and he was now the magazine’s war correspondent in the Mediterranean Theatre. I joined him in Rome and we went to what was then Yugoslavia. We came home with our troops on the Queen Mary. The shocking destruction from bombing I witnessed everywhere, especially in London, made me a confirmed peace marcher.
Back in New York, the United Nations was evolving, and I attended those earliest UN proceedings for Harper’s magazine. My first son, Jay, was born while I was writing about the planning for the UN’s New York headquarters.
I began working at the point in my life when most married women almost automatically made the choice that husband and children came first. Any career was sandwiched in between their needs and demands, so I set my alarm and got up at 4:00 to write. That gave me three hours alone, and after my children were dispatched to school I continued working until they came home about three. In the evenings I accompanied my husband, whose social and professional life centered around The New Yorker. For a year and a half right after Jay was born Phil was its music critic. Every night we went to a different musical event, sometimes two, and I slept through the most beautiful concerts and operas imaginable. We also entertained frequently, with me as hostess, cook, and kitchenmaid. It never occurred to me to have it any other way, but the first money I earned from writing went for an automatic dishwasher.
We were living in a third-floor walkup railroad apartment, which is a strip of small rooms one behind the other. When I became pregnant, Harold Ross, the revered founder of The New Yorker, called his friend and our landlord, Vincent Astor, and got us a bigger apartment. The New Yorker always has demanded writing at its best, and I was so in awe of Mr. Ross. His vision of humour was embedded in the magazine; the late William Shawn, who succeeded him, focused on social issues; and the present editor, David Remnick, a superb writer himself, brilliantly covers the terrifying politics and people of our time.
When Bill Shawn became editor, he urged me to write for him. My younger son, Richie, was ten when I started turning in notes for the Talk of the Town section. I always have had my own ideas, and I began writing long fact pieces under my own name. My two published pieces on air pollution in New York and the Clean Air Act in England, inspired a politician to push a law through New York’s City Council forcing the local giant power company, Consolidated Edison, to burn a lighter, less polluting oil.
In 1961 a hankering for adventure gave me confidence to ride into Arctic Quebec on a dogsled without a clue as to where I was going, to describe the historic meeting of the first Inuit to form their own economic co-operative. Their traditional nomadic life was no longer viable. They were desperate enough, with guidance from dedicated Canadian officials, especially the late Donald Snowden, to unite, found a new settlement and experiment.
It was my introduction to Canada, the first of many trips North. I always say that I came to Canada from the top down. I was totally smitten by the Canadian Arctic. I realize now how unconsciously I entered into what was then viewed as a man’s world. Being the only woman on those trips seemed perfectly natural and gave me treasured friends forever.
I never intended to live almost half my long life in Canada. I’ve had such a good time, and made relationships with wonderful people, especially my publisher, Howard White, of Harbour Publishing, my husband, Franklin White, and Geist magazine’s Mary Schendlinger, my other great editor besides The New Yorker’s Bill Shawn.
When I was twelve, our school librarian gave me a copy of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina by way of introduction to the great Russian novelists. From then on I wanted to write fiction, but events in the real world have been so compelling that they defy imagination. True happenings cry out for that special treatment we call creative non-fiction. I was amazed when the National War College of the United States government annually requested permission for about ten years to reproduce my article about Canada for its faculty and students that appeared in the July, 1973 issue of The Atlantic Monthly entitled “Canadians: The Strangers Next Door”.
I like to think that my writing will continue to contribute to mutual understanding between Canada and the United States. Most young and even middle-aged Canadians know almost nothing about the balance of power between the American Presidency, its Supreme Court and its Congress, the sacred foundation for good government in the United States. They vaguely recognize the name of the great American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but don’t know what Roosevelt’s New Deal was about, or how it lifted the nation out of the Depression to become the stable symbol of a working democracy. We need the universities and creative journalism to provide historical perspective, so we never repeat the horrifying mistakes of the odious Bush administrations.
I think of creative journalism as making true stories readable. The still small voice of truth is what I hear when I am writing.
The recognition I have received from this fine University is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I am deeply moved. Thank you.