The success of the book on local war brides encouraged Sharon Hillman to continue writing about locals as a fundraiser for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society and Ty Watson House’s Reflections program. KRISTI DOBSON PHOTO

Alberni author gives voice to loggers in new book

Alberni Valley Loggers is part of a Vital Voices series

BY KRISTI DOBSON

Special to the News

Sharon Hillman launched the Reflections program at Ty Watson House in 2012 to help residents create a literary legacy of their life stories. Since then, the program has not only morphed into an audio version, but has directed Hillman in a new direction with the non-profit organization; one with the goal of funding Reflections to keep it sustainable.

An avid writer, the idea of writing books that would appeal to locals and selling them as a fundraiser struck Hillman as something feasible. The first book, War Brides, was a success, so Hillman knew there was potential to do more.

War Brides was chosen because we had a war bride, Jenny Stewart, living at Ty Watson at the time,” Hillman said. “The book was organized by the ships they came on.” After that, she started writing a compilation of her journals and memories from a two-month trip across Canada with her husband, Dennis, in 2006. Initially, the plan was to have it available only for family members, but the Reflections committee agreed that the stories from Vancouver Island to the Cape Spear Lighthouse would be of interest to the general public. It goes to press at the end of the month and will be the second book fundraiser.

The third, and largest project to date, brought on more volunteer writers and captures the stories of retired and current loggers of the Alberni Valley. As the first of the new Vital Voices series, Alberni Valley Loggers was chosen because of the worker’s prominence and contribution to the local industry.

“They are the backbone of the Alberni Valley community,” Hillman said. “Without them in the woods, we wouldn’t have the size of community we have.”

Included in the two-year process are stories of at least 70 loggers who worked in the heyday of the forest industry and include personal anecdotes from the worksites and beyond. It includes everyone from tree planters through to fallers, engineers, rigging crews, road builders, foremen, general managers and firefighters.

The theme stemmed from Reflections committee member and writer, Kath Stolth, who has personal ties to the industry.

“She is passionate about it because she comes from a strong logging family,” Hillman said. “She was a machine operator. She worked alongside the men and has a specific place in her heart for those who gave their lives for the job they love.”

The four volunteer writers, along with Hillman and Stolth, include Diane Dobson and Marilyn Dailey. Hillman said they all gained a respect for the work these loggers did.

“When you finish reading it, you will have a very clear picture of what it was like to do their job,” she said.

“Every story is very compelling and reflects something new about the industry and about each job they did.”

They also realized that among the workers, there were artists and poets. One of those artists, Doug Harrison, will have one of his industry-related painting featured as the cover image.

The book is set to be released in the fall of 2017 but there is a chance this week to hear all about it. Hillman will be the guest speaker at the Alberni District Historical Society AGM on Thursday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Dogwood Room of Echo Centre. Preorders will be accepted there, with proceeds going to the Alberni Valley Hospice ’s Reflection program.

Just Posted

Developers reveal plans for old ADSS lands at public hearing

Residential plan to be phased in, says developer

Port Alberni pitches wildfire suppression centre

City proposes partnership with FPInnovations, Coulson Aviation to develop centre

Two adults rescued after falling down embankment at Roger Creek

Emergency crews responded to the call around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday

Paintings taken from Alberni Indian Residential School remain a mystery

Dolly McRae was a budding painter, until a residential school teacher took away her dream

Icy roads sent truck down steep embankment

One seriously injured in single vehicle crash on Bamfield Main Road

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

Ladysmith woman who jumped from ferry meets rescuers

A local artist who survived five hours in the frigid waters of… Continue reading

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

Most Read