Publishing the true stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan, Canada.
We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by
Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also assist authors in self-publishing their work. Visit our website and buy our books at driverworks.ca.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Small World - Reconnecting With Folks This Summer

Here's an "It's A Small World" story from last week.

When I walked into a seniors' home in Morinville, Alberta last Thursday, where I was going to be speaking about our books, a man was standing inside the front doors. He was waiting for whoever was coming to pick him up to take him to a day program outside the facility. He opened the door for me and then for Al when Al brought in our cart of books. Since we were just standing there, I decided to make conversation. I asked the fellow if they'd had much rain there.

"No, not much," he said. "Just last night."

I told him that I was glad it had rained. "We're heading to a family reunion in Athabasca, just north of here. A few weeks ago, my brother said they were spraying for grasshoppers."

The man kind of smiled, then pointed his index finger at me and said, "I KNOW who you are."

I stopped and took another look at him and my jaw dropped. "YOU'RE ________  ________," I yelled, saying his name.

He smiled.

I couldn't believe my eyes.

I had been the recipient of that pointed finger a few times when we were kids, and I had now recognized the man from that gesture I had seen many times as a kid. His family lives about a mile from our farm and we went on the same school bus every day! 
My brother has visited and worked with this friend of ours for years, but he'd lost track of where our friend had moved in retirement.

So now we know. 

I grabbed our friend and asked Al to take a photo of the two of us. 

How cool is that?


At a Thursday afternoon speaking event in my hometown, I reconnected with at least five seniors who played a role in my childhood as well. Some had been friends with my parents and some were neighbours. (When I was growing up on the farm, anyone who lived within a 50-mile radius was considered a neighbour.) One of the seniors was a former high school Industrial Arts teacher, whom I did not take classes from but whom I had always considered to be a respected teacher. Later that evening, I visited with three of my cousins and also reconnected with a friend from high school whom I had not seen for more than 40 years! I love how life throws such fascinating, fun curves at you every now and then.

We spent the rest of the weekend reconnecting with relatives on my father's side of our family. We visited, ate great food, played cards and other games, and genuinely had a great time.

Then Al and I, my three sisters and one brother, with most of our family members, spent Sunday afternoon at the lake near my brother's farm. It was a beautiful day weather-wise  - hot and sunny with a slight breeze.

It was the perfect ending for a great weekend of visiting, reminding me of where I come from and who I am - a farm kid from Alberta who loves the Prairies and its people.







Thursday, July 9, 2015

Send Us Your "Prairie Pilots' Stories"

In 2008, we released the book Prairie Pilot: Lady Luck Was On My Side – The Stories of Walter D. Williams, which contains 100 entertaining, inspiring, short stories written by the late Walter Williams of Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. Walter was an International Harvester dealer and a welder in the late 1940s and 1950s when he began using his two-seater Aeronca Chief airplane as a flying taxi service and unofficial air ambulance for many residents in his area.

This photo shows Walter Williams of Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, flying his beloved CF-EVO Aeronca Chief in the 1950s. The photo was taken from CF-DRY Piper Cub, owned by Norm Easton of Eston, Sask. 




Walter Williams flew pregnant women, doctors, RCMP officers, criminals, teachers, books, corpses, and friends to hospitals and other destinations – often in horrible weather or at night when he wasn’t supposed to be flying. Walter’s stories tell of him flying into storms and fog, landing in farmers’ fields, hunting coyotes from the air, and saving people’s lives by being the only available mode of transportation at the time. He had little regard for the rules of Transport Canada and often ignored common sense, thanking Lady Luck many times for helping him through risky situations.


Walter's CF-EVO struck a fence near Altario, SK on a failed takeoff in Fall 1948.


A snowplow clearing a road near Kerrobert, SK in the 1950s.

The late Walter Williams with his son David, standing by Walter's plane, about 1950.

Walter and Romona Williams, about 1975.


The Prairie Pilot book has been popular and went into a second printing in 2012. Men especially love this book - I tease them that they live vicariously through Walter’s crazier adventures - but it is a great read for men and women and anyone over age 12. Walter was definitely an unsung hero for that region of west-central Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta in the 1950s. He saved many lives and his short stories are proof of his heroism.

Since that book was published, for the last seven years, my husband/publishing partner Al Driver and I have enjoyed listening to the stories of other Prairie pilots. They have inevitably come back to us after reading Walter’s book to tell us about some of their own precarious flights and marvellous flying adventures. So we have decided to compile some of these stories into a new book that we hope to release in 2016.

Thus, if you are a Prairie pilot, or a Canadian pilot, or you know someone who is and has a story or two to tell, DriverWorks Ink invites you to share those short stories (or poems) for this non-fiction book tentatively titled Stories of Prairie Pilots.

We know that there are some incredible stories of flying danger, heroism, helping, joy, adventure, silliness, and more out there. We want to record and share these stories with our readers.

Please write your story or invite someone you know to share their story with us. Stories should be from 500 words to 1,500 words. Photos may be submitted upon acceptance of your story. Please provide details including your name, address, phone number, and email address, as well as the names, dates, location and other details of the people and places in your story.

It would be best to ask the permission of the people you are naming in your story before you send us the story, but it is most important that the story be true and not libellous. You can get around using real names by using phrases such as "a man I'll call Jim" or "a man I know." I'll help you with that process once we accept your story for publication in our book.

Please send your submissions before January 31, 2016, by email to: ddriver@sasktel.net or by mail to: DriverWorks Ink, 110 McCarthy Blvd. N., Regina, SK S4R 6A4.

Please phone DriverWorks Ink at 306-545-5293 if you have a story to share but you do not wish to write it yourself. I will be happy to do the writing and help you share your story in that way.

Please note that all submissions will be accepted but not all submissions will be published. Those whose stories are published will receive two complimentary copies of the book and will be able to purchase more copies at a 40% discount.

We may decide to make a donation from the book proceeds to a worthwhile charity, but we have not yet discussed that concept for this project.

Thank you in advance. We look forward to receiving your stories.

Happy Flying and Happy Writing!


Friday, July 3, 2015

Send Us Your "Fun On The Farm" Stories

Your farmer brother has an unusual way of feeding the cattle and it makes you laugh every time you see it.

Your farmer cousin follows a specific, curious ritual when she drives the grain truck or takes lunch to the men in the field, and it cracks you up.

You yourself have had more than your share of funny mishaps and adventures on the farm where you grew up, and you're dying to tell someone about them! Well, this is your chance.

With the successful launch of our Cream Money book and the talk in the community that this book has already inspired among Prairie people who have heard about it, DriverWorks Ink is pleased to invite you to share more of your short stories (or poems) for the Fun ON the Farm non-fiction book we plan to publish in Spring 2016.

Fun ON the Farm is the working title for our planned book about funny things that have happened on Canadian farms. We invite you to tell us about TRUE events, interactions, people, or pranks that have happened to you or someone you know related to life on a farm in Canada. We want names, dates, and all the funny details.

We want to make readers giggle, shake their heads in wonder, or downright belly-laugh when reading this book.

Did you get the tractor stuck in a muddy field and spend an hour weighing the options of walking home to get help versus staying with the tractor to postpone the inevitable reprimand? Did you fall into a sewage-filled slough to retrieve your glasses while playing a game of tag with a younger sibling? (Both of these happened to me, by the way.)

Please write your own Fun ON the Farm story or invite someone you know to share their story with us. Stories should be from 500 words to 1,500 words. Photos may be submitted upon acceptance of your story. Please provide us with your name, address, phone number, and email address, as well as the names, dates, location and other details of the people and places in your story.

It would be best to ask the permission of the people you are naming in your story before you send us the story, but it is most important that the story be true and humorous - and not nasty or libellous. You can get around using real names by using phrases such as "a woman I'll call Betty" or "a neighbour of mine." I'll help you with that process once we accept your story for publication in our book.

Please send your submissions before May 27, 2016, by email to: ddriver@sasktel.net or by mail to: DriverWorks Ink, 110 McCarthy Blvd. N., Regina, SK S4R 6A4.

Please phone DriverWorks Ink at 306-545-5293 if you have a story to share but you do not wish to write it yourself. I will be happy to do the writing and help you share your story in that way.

Please note that all submissions will be accepted but not all submissions will be published. Those whose stories are published will receive two complimentary copies of the book and will be able to purchase more copies at a 40% discount.

We may decide to make a donation from the book proceeds to a worthwhile charity, but we have not yet discussed that concept for this project.

The family farm where I toiled as a child (Woe is me!) in Alberta.

Thank you in advance for your interest in this book. We look forward to receiving your stories. 

Have fun with it! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Fun at Frontier Days - Swift Current's Summer Fair

Frontier Days Fair and Rodeo in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, is typical of summer fairs across Western Canada. It has its share of cowboys, cowgirls, ranchers, cattle, horses, midway rides, midway food, exhibits, cowboy hats, trade show items for sale, home-cooked food, and entertainment.

DriverWorks Ink had a booth at the Frontier Days trade show this year and Al and I spent time visiting with lots of great people, including Bryce Burnett, author of our book Homegrown and other poems. Bryce is a local rancher as well as a poet and a member of the Swift Current Ag & Ex board of directors, serving as chairperson of the Livestock section of Frontier Days.

Here's a photo journal of our time at Frontier Days 2015.


Howdy, partner! Welcome to Swift Current's Kinetic Park!

This is the door to the office of the Stockade Building, where we were set up as part of the commercial exhibits/trade show.

Here's my partner in publishing (and my husband too), Al Driver, telling customers about our amazing Prairie books written by Prairie authors, including me. 


Outside the Stockade Building, there was a lot going on too.

West Coast Amusements was set up to entertain with amusement rides, games, food, etc.



Doc's Town is a section of Kinetic Park that features preserved Prairie buildings and other features such as farm machinery.


I didn't know Case tractors were ever blue. I suspect this one was painted and then moved to this property. The Case tractors we drove on the farm, when I was growing up in Alberta, were a distinctive orange colour like this one - which looks a lot like the one we had. (Seeing the photo of this two-toned orange Case tractor just took me back almost 50 years to my days as a 10-year-old frantically trying to reach the clutch and brake as I turned the corner while pulling the baler behind the tractor. Yikes!)

But back to Swift Current's Frontier Days...


Walking around the grounds, I enjoyed the old buildings, but I did stop and do a double-take when I saw this...


It's a DINOSAUR!

A man dressed as a dinosaur actually - moving every so often and freaking out whoever happens to look that way. It's part of an educational display to tell folks about that era. 

"Alright, heart... you can slow down your beating again now..." I said to myself.



At supper time, this was the best place to go on the grounds. 

The Tea House offered home-cooked meals, like this turkey dinner, complete with lemonade and a dessert of lemon cake and ice cream. 

For $14, this was all ours to enjoy. That's right, ours. Al and I shared this delicious meal as well as the roast beef dinner the following evening. 
Another fine feature of these meals - the profits from the meals went towards the maintenance of Doc's Town on the grounds. Win Win!



We got a chuckle out of this ironic sight - a burly Hutterite farmer holding this very pink, very feminine, inflatable "Princess Power" mallet. It just goes to show you the warm heart of this fellow.

And we saw cowboy hats. Lots of them.

Even on little guys like this one, who was enjoying his berry-flavoured drink on a hot, hot summer day. (His parents gave me permission to take and share his photo.)

On another stroll around the grounds, I headed toward the barns. I enjoyed seeing this operational "General Store" selling cold drinks, snacks, and various hardware and other items.

These cattle are being led between the barns.
A 4-H Angus class is being judged here. (Our author and friend Bryce Burnett raises Black Angus cattle and Tarentaise cattle, by the way.)


These riders are lining up for their turn in the ring.



A heavy horse event is being judged.

I asked this woman's permission to take a photo of her shirt. Every time I see angel wings, I think of eight-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner, subject of my award-winning book Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope (shameless plug). 
This woman graciously stopped walking and posed for me.
I thanked her. She will never know how many people have smiled and been given a tiny bit of joy and hope because of the shirt she wore that day.



I got a kick out of the prizes offered on the midway. Minions were everywhere...

... including in the lap of this tiger!
Minion Fall Down ... Can't Get Up!

WHAT ... IS ... THIS?
That's exactly what I said to myself as these spry young fellows walked by our booth one afternoon.
I caught up to them a couple aisles later and, being the shy young men that they are (not), they quickly began posing for me when they saw my camera. Clever guys. 

But it must have been ridiculously hot in those outfits since it was plus 34 degrees Celsius most days of the fair! The things some people will do to make an entrance, hey?


We were pleased to see people stop at the booth of STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service Foundation, which operates in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba). "STARS offers time, hope and life-saving transport to critically-injured patients."
Jeffrey Dickson, the STARS community relations officer for Saskatchewan, was selling lottery tickets for STARS. 
My favourite line from Jeff came when a man accidentally tripped on a chair by Jeff's booth. Jeff quickly responded with, "This is the right booth if you're going to get hurt." Jeff may not be a paramedic, but he has a great sense of humour and works for a good organization.


And the BIG NEWS of the fair for us?

Bryce Burnett has been notified that his book, Homegrown and other poems, has been named a Finalist for a 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Award. How great is that?

Bryce's book of cowboy and other poetry celebrating Prairie rural life has already won an Honorable Mention in the Poetry category of the 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival. How nice would it be to win another award!

Congratulations, Bryce! Well done. 
(Bryce and I stopped for a selfie to celebrate his book being named Finalist in this prestigious competition.)
The Will Rogers Medallion will be handed out this fall in Fort Worth, Texas. We'll keep you posted on how Bryce's book fares.


Al Driver and Bryce Burnett had a visit at our booth one evening, when Bryce could take a break from his Ag & Ex duties.

And our daughter Lisa Driver visited us for a bit one day too. Lisa is the author of the award-winning spiritual wellness book, Opening Up: How To Develop Your Intuition and Work With Your Angels.
Shortly after this photo, she and I drove to Regina to get ready for her bridal shower! yes, this is going to be a great, busy summer!

But first, farewell from Swift Current's Frontier Days!

May your summer include time for you to relax and have some fun.

May you find joy in the simple things, the images and sights and sounds that surround you.


Most of all, may you find time to be with the ones you love.

Happy summer, everyone!