Monday, April 09, 2007

To the Great White North

Later this week I will be heading up to Edmonton, Alberta to have a ladies' weekend with my sister and my aunt. My sister and I want to write a book about a piece of our family history, which spans from the swaying palm trees of Ceylon to the frigid cold of the far Canadian north. We are torn between trying to write a piece of history and a work of historical fiction. The history is definitely worth telling, especially the underappreciated story of the women, but that would require so much pesky fact-checking. The fiction would allow us to make up some answers to a few family mysteries, and craft a ripping good tale and eventually a screenplay that would make us rich and famous! It's hard to choose.

Anyway, my sister had reason to visit Edmonton on business, so I'm jetting up there too and while we're there we'll do some research, since the University of Alberta archives holds some of our family papers. Doesn't that sentence sound cool, "the archive there holds quite a few of our family papers," as if we're the descendants of Emily Bronte or Thomas Jefferson. As chance would have it, we have also reason to visit Winnipeg in November, where the Hudson's Bay Company Archives hold an absolute treasure trove of relevant material. To have these two trips drop out of the sky in the same year tells me that it's time to actually write this book.

I've been to Edmonton before, but only in summer. I have managed to avoid winter visits to Canada for my whole life, in fact - the closest have been Thanksgiving visits to Toronto and Winnipeg (that would be Canadian Thanksgiving, in October). So I've never experienced the legendary winters, although I did spend a 36-below-zero week in Fairbanks in March once, so I think I get the idea.

At some point, I really want to visit the far north locations of the family saga - York Factory, Fort Simpson - which would take an immense amount of time and money. Fort Simpson is easier, flying Seattle-Edmonton-Yellowknife-Ft. Simpson, with an overnight in Edmonton. According to Parks Canada, getting to York Factory entails charter air transport from "various points in northern Manitoba" - seriously? Have you ever looked at a map of northern Manitoba? I think's its one big swamp.

So we'll just start with the nice, tame archives in the cities of our northern forebears, and see where we go from there.


Shelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelly said...

Oops I made a typo in that earlier post....

Who goes to Edmonton on business?

I vote for the fiction.