Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

101-year-old bomber pilot shares wartime adventure stories with Canadian Aviation Historical Society

At age 19, Reginald Harrison enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was looking for adventure away from the Saskatchewan farm where he grew up and he wanted to serve his country in the Second World War, just like most of the young men around him. By age 21, Reg was flying a Halifax aircraft out of the Croft air base in England, dropping bombs on the enemy forces in Germany and France. 

Weighing only 118 pounds, Reg chose to sit on top of his parachute pack inside the aircraft to give himself a better view out the windows of the huge Halifax bomber. During one of his flights, the parachute nearly killed him - during the third of what would eventually become four crashes Reg survived during the war. Reg served our country and the Allied Forces well and, upon returning to Canada from the war, met his future wife through a fellow bomber pilot. 

At almost 102 years old, Reg "Crash" Harrison recently shared some of the stories of his wartime experiences with members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society at their national convention held at the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Almost 102-year-old Reginald "Crash" Harrison and author Deana J. Driver at the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum for the national convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, June 22, 2024


As the author of the new book about Reg's life (Crash Harrison: Tales of a Bomber Pilot Who Defied Death), I was pleased to have been invited to speak to the group alongside Reg and to again listen to him tell some of his incredible wartime stories.

It was an honour to address this group, which is the oldest and largest organization in the world dedicated to the celebration and documentation of Canada's flying heritage. And it is always a huge honour to sit beside Reg Harrison as he tells stories about his time in the RCAF.

It is always heartwarming to watch the reverence that people rightly have for this man who served in the war and survived four crashes and significant traumatic events. They, like me, have come to appreciate his remarkably clear memory of those events and how he can - at almost 102 years old - still share them with avid listeners.

I watch with gratitude as people line up to shake Reg's hand and have him autograph their copy of the Crash Harrison book. (I get to sign the books too, which is always nice. And Reg usually says something nice about me to whoever asks about how the book came to be. He and I mutually admire each other.)

101-year-old Reg "Crash" Harrison and author Deana J Driver signing Crash Harrison books at the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum, June 22, 2024  
 - photo by John Chalmers, CAHS member


CAHS delegate has Reg Harrison autograph the book, June 22, 2024


Another CAHS delegate chats with Reg "Crash" Harrison, June 22, 2024

This delegate to the CAHS convention and I were pleased to realize that she and I sing in the same community choir in Regina!

During our presentation at the CAHS convention in the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum in June, I recorded these videos of Reg telling his stories:

WW2 bomber pilot tells how his parachute got caught as he bailed out in 1944

101-year-old WW2 bomber pilot had dangerous flights & landings in a Lancaster in 1944

101-year-old WW2 bomber pilot talks about his aircraft bailout in 1944 & being ever-grateful

After the presentation, an elderly man came up to our table and introduced himself. Dr. Robert Galway had a special story he wanted to tell me and Reg about how he also knew the doctor who performed the reconstructive surgery on Reg's arm during the war. What a wonderful serendipity!

Dr. Robert Galway meets Reg "Crash" Harrison in Saskatoon, June 22, 2024

I asked Dr. Galway if he would tell me the whole story so I could record it and share it. He was pleased to do that. Enjoy this remarkable interview...

A 101-year-old WW2 bomber pilot & a Canadian doctor share connections to the Guinea Pig Club


Reg and I say thank you to the Canadian Aviation Historical Society for the invitation to speak to the convention delegates. Thank you to the Saskatchewan Aviation Museum for hosting the event. Thank you to all those who attended, enjoyed the presentations, and purchased books.

As Reg says every time he talks about his stories, we must remember those who served and especially those who did not make it home from the war.

We must not forget.



Friday, May 31, 2024

Honouring Those Who Served - 80th Anniversary of D-Day


Thursday, June 6, 2024, will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings along the Normandy coast during the Second World War. This event by Allied forces, which ultimately led to the liberation of Europe, will be commemorated at various places, including Juno Beach Centre in France.

In 2013, my late husband Al and I visited Juno Beach and carried a copy of Alan J. Buick's award-winning book The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story with us onto the beach. It was eerie and emotional to walk on those grounds where so much occurred.

The late Bob Elliott was a Canadian tank commander who arrived in France at Juno Beach - an overwhelming experience he was able to survive while many others perished in battle. The little coat he and his troop commissioned to be sewn out of a Canadian army blanket as a gift for a sympathetic Dutch girl is now an artifact in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa because of Alan Buick's fantastic book.

The Little Coat is one of several books published by DriverWorks Ink that share stories of those who served in the Second World War and other conflicts in the name of world peace.

We recommend that you read:
- Crash Harrison: Tales of a Bomber Pilot Who Defied Death, written by Deana J. Driver (that's me), about a Saskatchewan farmboy who grew up during the Great Depression and survived four airplane crashes in England during World War II;
- See You in Le Touquet, written by Romie Christie about her lawyer father's work as an Army officer during World War II and how he liberated his future wife (Romie's mother) and her town of Le Touquet, France as the war was ending;
- all three of the books in the series Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, which share vignettes and memories of brave military personnel serving around the world; and
- The Sailor and the Christmas Trees, written by Deana Driver, about a Manitoba man's kindness to shipmates and others in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Christmas Day 1944.
All these books are available from https://driverworks.ca/

We share the sentiment of Sussie Cretier, the Dutch girl in The Little Coat story, who said as an adult, "My gratitude for the young men who gave up their youth and their lives for the freedom of our country. I never, ever will forget."

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Mentoring an author with a special connection

This is a new and exciting venture for me in my publishing business and a Throwback Thursday moment too...

I had a lunch meeting in Swift Current with author and publisher Tekeyla Friday to discuss her work as a publisher of kids' books with a STREAM theme (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

She's written and published Prince Prickly Spine and has other projects planned.

Tekeyla came into our family's life in 2012, when she was an angelic medium who provided a reading to my eldest daughter, Lisa Driver, and changed Lisa's life. Tekeyla said that Lisa was meant to talk to and connect with angels, become a spiritual coach, and guide others - which she has done and has since written four books in that area. (See Lisa's story in her first book, Opening Up: How to Develop Your Intuition and Work With Your Angels.)

Fast forward 12 years... 

Tekeyla invited me to be her publishing industry mentor as she pursued this new path of being an author and book publisher. I eagerly agreed. It's an honor and a privilege to give back to the industry that has been so kind to me over these last couple of decades. And sharing one's knowledge with others is fun!

Thanks to the Clarence Campeau Development Fund's Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship & Business Development programs for helping young women like Tekeyla in their new business ventures. And thanks, Tekeyla, for asking me to be your mentor and for helping Lisa find her calling.

Deana J Driver and Tekeyla Friday




Opening Up book by Lisa Driver

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Sure Signs of Spring in Saskatchewan


The sight of a robin is always my first sign of Spring. 

Except this year.


On April 5th, my young granddaughters and I were looking out my front window when a large, solid black butterfly flew by us, flittering away just under the roof overhang at the top of the window.

We couldn't believe our eyes. A butterfly in April in Regina? I've never seen that, and I've lived here for almost 50 years.

I looked online for information about butterflies that live in Saskatchewan in winter and the closest butterfly I could find that resembles the large all-black butterfly we saw would be a Mourning Cloak.
Although their black wings turn brown when they are older, Mourning Cloaks are one of only three varieties of butterflies that hibernate in Saskatchewan in winter and come out early in springtime. 

Saskatoon Zoo Society page states: "Mourning Cloaks, anglewings, and tortoiseshells are the only Saskatchewan butterflies that hibernate as adults. (Other butterflies and moths usually survive the winter in the egg stage, although some will overwinter in the caterpillar or pupae/ chrysalis stages). The amazing part is they freeze completely solid in the winter and come back to life when they thaw out."

Another interesting paragraph about the Mourning Cloak butterfly is from a Canadian Entomology Cool Insects blog: "How long do butterflies live? For most, the answer is “not very long,” after what may have been many months as an egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis. For the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), however, life as a butterfly can stretch over an entire year. Mourning Cloaks spend the winter in hibernation, under bark for example, and they are often the “first butterfly of spring,” along with their close relatives, the tortoiseshells and commas. Since Mourning Cloaks are widespread in North America and Eurasia, they are probably the most oft-encountered spring butterflies in the north temperate world. After feeding on various trees (elm, willow, and poplar are all acceptable fare) as caterpillars, Mourning Cloak butterflies emerge from their pupae in mid to late summer. They sometimes live as long as twelve months as adults. In springtime, they typically emerge from hibernation before the first flowers are in bloom, and they feed on everything from sap flows to dung to mud, in order to obtain the nutrients necessary for such a long life."

So there you go.  

I've never looked into the wintering habits of insects in Saskatchewan before, choosing to just appreciate and accept them with gratitude when they show up. The early butterfly in my yard this year does not quite match the photos of any of the creatures on this Butterfly Identification page, and entomologists are welcome to correct me, but I'm guessing my new friend is a young black Mourning Cloak.

Usually, a ladybug is the first insect I see outdoors in springtime, and we saw at least a dozen of those in my yard on the weekend too. But that large black butterfly this year sure showed up its friendly flying neighbours. It even flew in front of me today as I drove into my back alley. How wonderful!

A black butterfly is said to be a sign of faith, hope, and new life, and a symbol of positive change.

Welcome, Springtime! And a special welcome back to our flying friends!





This robin was in my front yard yesterday.


My granddaughter gently holding a ladybug


A butterfly in my backyard in August 2023.







 


Monday, April 1, 2024

100th Anniversary of the RCAF celebrated by 101-year-old Canadian Bomber Pilot

April 1, 2024, marks 100 years of service for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It's been an important milestone for Reginald "Crash" Harrison, who turned 101 years old in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan last August and was setting his sights on living long enough to see the 100th anniversary of the RCAF - which he has done!

Reg was a Canadian bomber pilot during the Second World War. His life story, including growing up on a Saskatchewan farm and then surviving 4 wartime aircraft crashes in England, is told in my new book Crash Harrison: Tales of a Bomber Pilot Who Defied Death (https://driverworks.ca/product/crash-harrison-book-by-deana-j-driver/ ).

Reginald "Crash" Harrison and author /publisher Deana J. Driver with
the book Crash Harrison - Tales of a Bomber Pilot Who Defied Death

I spoke with Reg a few days ago and he told me his plan is to attend one of this summer's air shows celebrating the 100th RCAF anniversary. Saskatchewan cities are all too close to their airports, he said, so he'll likely travel to Cold Lake, Alberta, with family members to see his favourite
Canadian Forces Snowbirds and other talented aviators in action.

If you want more information about the RCAF's 100th-anniversary celebrations, go to https://rcaf2024arc.ca/ which lists the events and also states:
    "The Centennial milestone places the RCAF in a unique position to honour its distinct heritage; recognize its tremendous people today; and generate excitement for its bright future. This is an opportunity to fuel internal and external support in the organization that instills pride in Your Air Force while creating an enduring legacy that propels the institution forward into its next century of service. Canada’s Air Force will be showcased in a past, present, and future context, with a focus on highlighting contributions to national safety and security, international peace, and global stability."

Happy Anniversary, Royal Canadian Air Force! Thank you for your service.

Friday, March 22, 2024

One Book One Province launch of Miss G and Me at Government House in Regina

What a fabulous evening of celebration we had at Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan as author Jennifer S. Wallace's memoir about her mother, Miss G and Me, was launched as the One Book One Province title for 2024!

The Saskatchewan Library Association's OBOP program encourages libraries, book clubs, and individuals all across Saskatchewan to read this book and share discussions about the story. Jennifer will be presenting at various libraries across the province during April. See the schedule here.



Miss G and Me is a gracious memoir that Jennifer penned about her mother, Ruth Williamson (aka Miss G). Ruth left Jamaica at a young age, under her mother's direction, to pursue a nursing education in England. Ruth then chose her own path, which led her to Canada, like so many immigrants in the late 1960s. Unlike many immigrants from the Caribbean at that time, Ruth ended up in rural Saskatchewan, working as a nurse while adjusting to the culture and climate of the Canadian Prairies.

Ruth’s life is one of resilience and determination. She married Ian MacLeod in Saskatoon in 1971, blending cultures in a mixed-race marriage unusual for its era. She built a nursing career that spanned over forty years, and mentored women and children from other countries and backgrounds. It wasn’t until the nickname “Miss G” came up during a phone call from Jamaica that Ruth's daughter, author Jennifer Wallace, began asking more questions and unraveling the mysteries of her mother’s life.


Jennifer uses anecdotes, journals, poetry, and essays to explore their relationship and lessons learned from her mother. The book invites readers and listeners to experience Jamaican, English, and prairie Canadian voices, cultures, landscapes, and mindsets.

I am delighted to have played a role in bringing this story to light, and proud that my company, DriverWorks Ink, published this fascinating cultural gem.

Enjoy these photos of our exceptional evening celebrating this wonderful Jamaican-Canadian story.

Welcome to Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada!

Carolyn Speirs, Executive Director and Private Secretary of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, attaches a microphone to help Jennifer S. Wallace get ready for a CTV News interview 

Jennifer S. Wallace, all set to be interviewed about her award-winning book Miss G and Me

Publisher Deana Driver of DriverWorks Ink, Saskatchewan Library Association One Book One Province representative Colleen Murphy, and author Jennifer S. Wallace at Government House, Regina, SK, Canada, March 21, 2024

Jennifer S. Wallace poses with her Miss G and Me book at Government House, Regina, SK, Canada

Jennifer S. Wallace with Mary Harelkin Bishop, another award-winning DriverWorks Ink author and Jennifer's mentor on the Miss G and Me book project

Publisher Deana Driver with Jennifer S. Wallace and her mother Ruth, aka Miss G

Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russell Mirasty meets Miss G and her daughter Jennifer

Saskatchewan Library Association representatives Colleen Murphy and James Hope Howard with Jennifer Wallace, her mother Ruth, and Their Honours Donna Mirasty and Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russell Mirasty, at Government House, March 21, 2024

Carolyn Speirs, Executive Director and Private Secretary of the Lieutenant Governor's office, emceed the 2024 OBOP launch at Government House

Desmond McAllister's steel drum performance set the tone for the OBOP launch of Miss G and Me

Ian and Ruth (Williamson) MacLeod, Jennifer Wallace, and Their Honours enjoying the steel drum performance

Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russell Mirasty expresses his appreciation for the sharing of this important cultural story

Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russell Mirasty addresses the audience

James Hope Howard, president of the Saskatchewan Library Association, drove from La Ronge to Regina for this event

  

Jennifer S. Wallace shares serious and humorous excerpts from her book Miss G and Me


At the book sales table, publisher Deana Driver of DriverWorks Ink with helpers Nadine Klassen and Mary Harelkin Bishop

A reception in the Government House ballroom followed the author's reading


Author Jennifer Wallace and publisher DriverWorks Ink are grateful to the Saskatchewan Library Association for choosing Miss G and Me as their 2024 One Book One Province title. We appreciate the support and encouragement of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the beautiful venue of Government House. We also acknowledge the book publishing support from Creative Saskatchewan and we thank all those who helped make this book a wonderful reality.

(Order your copy of Miss G and Me here ocontact DriverWorks Ink directly for educational and library discounts.)

Monday, March 4, 2024

Beauty in a tree branch

While sorting through some boxes, I found this photograph I had taken in my days of being a for-hire photographer. I didn't do as well at that job as I would have liked, mostly because I didn't have very expensive photography equipment in the 1990s - being a struggling creative artist and all that. Hmmm... that's still the case actually, but I digress.


Nowadays, most of us carry a cellphone camera that surpasses the camera, lenses and lights I carried in boxes then.

I fell in love with photography when I learned about it in journalism school in the early 1970s. I even had a darkroom in the basement bathroom of one of my homes in the '80s. The bathroom was specifically built so no light came in to disrupt my developing skills (literally and figuratively). That's likely the place where I developed the roll of film and printed this photo of wintertime tree branches.

I love this photographic reminder that beauty surrounds us, often in unexpected places ... such as when you look up after a lunch break while delivering books to a shop in Emerald Park, SK - as in my photo below from earlier this winter!