Leaside is full of authors we don’t hear much about, but would probably like to. If you have recently had a new book published, get in touch.
Leaside has been home for me for about 25 years and tucked down in the basement of our house is my little office. Like a scene out of a movie, it’s a mess. Books stacked all around, magazine articles in cardboard bank boxes on the floor and some pictures on the wall of my days as a television journalist.
My desk—well, actually, I have not seen the top of it for months, maybe years.
I used to be the producer of CTV National News with Lloyd Robertson but I retired five years ago and since then most days I work here writing. This is also where I wrote my book Mobilize! Why Canada Was Unprepared for the Second World War, which was published in 2013.
It took me five years of research to finish the book and I had no idea if it would ever be published. The best thing about it was that I learned so much and I met such marvellous people.
I interviewed more than 25 veterans, which may not sound like a great number but I wanted ones who had joined up before the Second World War began. There are not many of them around.
One of the men I interviewed was my neighbour from a few blocks away, George MacDonnel, who is a survivor of a Japanese prisoner of war camp. I knew about him but I had no idea he lived nearby until I started the book.
He is now about 92 and in great health, which is doubly marvellous considering what he went through. He was only 17 when he joined the army in 1939. He still speaks to schools and his message is a simple but touching one: freedom is not free.
Although my book is serious military and political history there are some funny things I ran across that I put in it. One was that Vice-Admiral Percy Nelles, the chief of naval staff during the war, had one of those big bank safes in his office in Ottawa. No one in the headquarters quite knew what was in it except for one thing. He kept his tea caddy in there.
I am writing a second book now but it won’t be ready for another year or so.
In the winter when I am not writing, I enjoy curling at Leaside curling rink. I am also a member of Branch 165 of the Royal Canadian Legion. I thoroughly enjoy our neighbourhood even though with all the construction it is hard to get around. Leaside changes almost day by day.
The retail price for my book is $28.95 but I have some copies for sale for $20. If you would like one, send a request to Leaside Life or the publisher, Dundurn (firstname.lastname@example.org) and messages can be forwarded to me.