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.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Third Flight book shares more Canadian aviation adventures

William Cameron entered Grade 9 at Scott Collegiate in Regina in 1942 and soon became a member of the Air Cadets squadron as required by the school curriculum. Bill’s stories for the third volume of the Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation book series include his reminisces of patrolling several city blocks with the Regina District Civil Defence Corps, as a teenager, in case air raid sirens were activated and they needed to warn residents to turn off their lights.

Bill Cameron and friends with Lancaster bomber, Regina airport, 1945
Photo courtesy of William Cameron

Bill’s stories are three of the 33 stories in this third volume of the series, written by 15 Canadian writers including me. I wrote six stories about: Moose Jaw-based Laura Lawrence, the only commercially operating female aerial application pilot in Canada in 2017; Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote, who hadn’t flown over much water before she flew her aircraft from their farm in Leask down to Mexico and then Chile; Lisa McGivery, who had some annoying passenger experiences in her work as a flight attendant and now works as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Ontario; and Gerd Wengler, who transports rehabilitated owls and other creatures to safety and new homes in Manitoba and Ontario.

Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Vol. 3 by Deana J. Driver and Contributors

Ken Wilson wrote about touring the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa with his father Ron just prior to the museum’s opening. Ron, a long-time pilot in northern Saskatchewan, noticed that the Beaver aircraft on display did not have a specific piece of equipment that would have been standard gear when transporting supplies for anyone staying in the bush. Ken made that suggestion to the museum curator, resulting in a change to the national museum’s Beaver display.

Retired journalist Will Chabun contributed three stories to this third volume of Flight, including details of annual vacations that Regina resident Jean Thomas took to France for 20 years as a member of the Royal Air Force Escaping Society. Co-founded by her late husband Hugh, the Society maintains contact and offers aid to those who rescued and sheltered RAF pilots like Hugh, whose plane was shot down during the war. The fiddle playing of Regina Symphony Orchestra’s Howard Leyton-Brown is also chronicled by Will Chabun.

Hugh and Jean Thomas, 1945
Story by Will Chabun, photo courtesy of Jean Thomas

The stories in the Flight series are not about the aircraft or flight terminology as much as they are about the people who had these adventures and incidents. My interest in these stories is in why they did what they did and what we can learn from those activities and experiences. I’ve already received submissions for Volume 4 of the series. Stay tuned.

Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation by Deana J. Driver and Contributors are available from www.driverworks.ca, Saskatchewan Aviation Museum gift shop, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Chapters, Indigo, Coles, Handmade Saskatchewan gift shops, SaskBooks, Amazon, and other select stores.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Fun On The Farm 3 book the last in the series

 A couple years ago, I was selling my DriverWorks Ink-published books at a craft show in Swift Current when a man walked by and yelled at me: “When are you doing another Fun On The Farm book? I really enjoy those!”

Fast forward almost three years, in the midst of a global pandemic, and here it is. Bring on the laughter!

Fun On The Farm 3: True Tales of Farm Life adds another 32 short stories and six poems to those of the first two volumes of the series, with more amusing antics, accidents, surprises, and laughs about growing up, living, or working on Western Canadian farms. Twenty writers, including me, have contributed to this volume.

Author /editor/ publisher Deana J. Driver with Fun On The Farm 3

The stories include how I learned to drive a car in a grain field in Alberta at age 12, played in a culvert on our farm as a kid, and watched high school friends of my husband go a little goofy during our rural wedding a few decades ago. My sister Leanne Pacholok and brother Alan Pacholok talk about their adventures too, including Leanne’s Poohsticks games through that same culvert, and Alan’s numerous antics and accidents that ended with minimal damage to him, but not to our mom’s prized plate from Poland.

Shellbrook author Laurie Lynn Muirhead shares stories of how her brother showed off his “flying” skills and how she nurtured a runt piglet to its full size. Saskatoon writer Marilyn Frey contributed five stories to Fun On The Farm 3, telling of riding a pig, Sunday ball games, crop circles, and more. Brad Hauber of Lloydminster recalls picking rocks, winter sports, and the benefits of having younger brothers. The contributing writers include three authors whose work I’ve published: Mary Harelkin Bishop has stories of garden gumbo and a friend’s rocky awakening, Janice Howden explains her dad’s “crash” nickname, and Bryce Burnett’s poetry gives glimpses of farm life. Other contributors are Cheryl Crashley, Elias Entz, Jean Fahlman, Keith Foster, Becky Gamble, Ron Krenn, Theodore Mikolayenko, Karen Ollinger and Eldon McDougald, Rev. Dr. Joyce Sasse, and Jean Tiefenbach.

This is the final book in the Fun On The Farm series celebrating the sense of humour that Western Canadian farmers often utilize to get through the hard times and cherish the good times.

Fun on the Farm 3 books are available at www.driverworks.ca, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Handmade Saskatchewan gift shops in Regina and Saskatoon, SaskBooks, Amazon, and other select stores.

Signed copies of Fun On The Farm, Fun On The Farm Too, and Fun On The Farm 3 are available at a Book Bundle sale price from www.driverworks.ca/shop.html


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Remembrance - Bob and Sue Elliott and their Little Coat

Every year since November 2009, when I published Alan J. Buick’s book The Little Coat - The Bob and Sue Elliott Story, I can’t help but think of Bob and Sue Elliott on Remembrance Day.

They were unsung Canadian and Dutch heroes of a sort. Until Alan’s book, of course, which helped thousands of readers worldwide learn their names and something about the sacrifices made by them and people like them who served in and/or lived through the combat zones of the Second World War.



Bob enlisted in the Canadian Army in Calgary when he was only 15 years old. My oldest grandson is close to that age now and I can’t imagine the fear and worry of being unable to do anything but watch that young man go off to war as Bob did, having told recruiters that he was 20 years old and wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers.

By age 19, Bob Elliott was a tank commander in the Canadian Army and was fighting the German army in the Netherlands. There, he met a feisty, 10-year-old Dutch girl named Everdina “Sussie” Cretier. Sussie had earlier saved her father from a German firing squad and their whole family had just escaped to the safety of the Canadian army after running across a field dotted with landmines.

Sussie - soon known as Sue - became a good-luck charm for the Canadian soldiers, especially those in Bob’s troop, who wanted to give her a Christmas gift. On Christmas Day 1944, Bob presented Sue with a child’s coat that the soldiers had asked a local seamstress to sew out of a wool Canadian Army blanket. The buttons on the coat came from the soldiers’ tunics.

Sue cherished that gift and kept it for decades, long after she and Bob reconnected and she moved to Canada to be with him. Alan Buick saw the coat on display at the Royal Canadian Legion in Olds, Alberta, and began asking questions about it - which led him to write his award-winning book, The Little Coat.

Bob Elliott passed away in February 2013.

We learned today that Sue Elliott passed away in May of this year. We express our heartfelt condolences to their families and all who loved them.

I was privileged to meet and talk with Sue and Bob during our launch of The Little Coat book from the Royal Canadian Legion hall in Olds, Alberta in November 2009. They connected with us by video, long before that became an everyday occurrence. Alan Buick and I were thrilled that the subjects of Alan's book could participate in our launch and visit with their family members and friends in the audience via video chat. 

In 2013, I was thrilled to meet Sue in person in the Netherlands, when I travelled there on a vacation with my late husband, Al. I wrote a blog about that adventure, from the perspective of the book talking to us. It was great fun and Sue was, as always, energetic and full of laughter.

Bob and Sue’s story and sacrifices will never be forgotten. Nor will those of thousands of others who served and placed themselves in danger in the name of freedom.

We will remember them. Rest in peace, dear friends.

 

Bob and Sue Elliott in 2010 with a tank
resembling the one Bob used in the war

Alan Buick, author, views The Little Coat ("child's coat")
on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, 2010

-----------------------------------

More of my blog posts about Bob and Sue Elliott:

Seeing this "Little Coat" inspired a country singer to write an award-winning book, Dec 2017

Viewing The Little Coat at the Military Museums, Calgary, Alberta, August 2015

Liberation Day Netherlands 70th Anniversary and The Little Coat book, May 2015

Remembrance - Bob Elliott and The Little Coat book, Nov 2014

From Blanket to Coat to Book to Painting, June 2013

The little coat is 67 years old! Dec 2011

Sunday, September 19, 2021

A Moose, A Fence, A Farmer, and A Power Saw

While interviewing my brother, Alan Pacholok, months ago about funny things he's experienced on the farm  so I could include those stories in the new book Fun On The Farm 3  Alan told me about an encounter he had with a moose. I wrote the story and then decided it didn't quite fit for the Fun on the Farm book series. It seemed like the perfect story for a blog post. Enjoy!

Two of my younger siblings, Alan and Leanne Pacholok (far left and far right),
 laugh at the antics of some cousins during a Pacholok family reunion, 2015


The farm I grew up on is in a forested region of central Alberta on land that required my ancestors – and me as a kid – to clear away trees to create usable farmland. Wild animals, especially moose, are common there.

My brother, Alan Pacholok, owns and operates that farm now and he has been known on many occasions to improvise in the maintenance and repair of farm equipment and buildings. For decades, my sisters and I have teased him that he’s a “duct tape and binder twine” kind of repairman. 

This use of ingenuity and adaptability is common among farmers, who have limited time in which to get their crops or cattle production accomplished due to weather, finances, and distance from other resources. So farmers sometimes have to make due with what is in the garage, barn, or vehicle just to get the job done. It’s a skill every working farm kid learns early on.

One sunny Saturday afternoon in the late 1990s, my brother was returning from a road trip he took to a farm near a neighbouring town, where he had gone to do some prep work on a granary he’d purchased. As Alan drove back towards our town, he saw a young moose stuck in a barbed wire fence that was beside the highway.

Vehicles were passing by this scene and my brother did too, but only for a split second before he turned his half-ton around, drove into the ditch, and got out of his truck to peruse the situation.

This wasn’t the first time Alan had seen such a predicament. He’d rescued a couple other moose from a similar fate before.

When moose try to jump a barbed wire fence, Alan told me, their front feet go over the top wire, but sometimes their back feet catch on the top wire, pushing it forward so their feet go down in front of the second wire of a four-wire fence. That second wire moves up with the force and acts as a lasso with the top wire, trapping the animal in place.

This particular moose was trying frantically to move ahead and was pulling on the wires, which were not budging. Alan knew that without help, this animal would perish.

Unlike our dad, who enjoyed hunting in almost every year that he could, my brother was never interested in this form of wild game. But this poor moose didn’t know that.

As Alan approached the frightened creature, he saw the fear in the animal’s eyes. And those eyes only got bigger when Alan started up the only utensil he could find in his truck – a power saw.

“The only tool we really had in the truck back then was a tire wrench,” Alan said. “We never took tools in the truck and I didn’t need them that day anyway. I had to take a couple two by sixes to Boyle to brace up a granary I bought and look at how to haul it home. I just had a power saw to cut the boards. To get this moose out of the fence, all I needed was a pair of pliers to cut the wires or two rocks, but I couldn’t find those anyway. The power saw was all I had,” Alan said with a grin.

“No nails, no wrenches, just one moose caught in the top two wires of this fence,” which, coincidentally, happened to be on the property of one of our uncles – but that’s rural Canada for you.

So, my brother grabbed his power saw and walked toward the hung-up animal. Alan could see that the moose had been fighting to get free for awhile before he arrived. The wires had rubbed some hair off its hind ankles, but there weren’t any cuts on the animal’s legs, which was comforting for both Alan and the moose.

By now, they had an audience. Several vehicles had stopped on the highway and people were standing on the roadside, waiting to see what this man in the pickup truck was planning to do with this 600-pound handy bundle of Grade A moose meat.

With his power saw in hand, Alan stood as far away as possible from the trapped moose – which was only about two feet given the 10-foot distance between fence posts and the mid-sized moose in the centre. Alan tried to start his power saw. It made a quick, loud broooomm noise, and then stopped.

The noise startled the moose. It squirmed faster and tried harder to get away – with no success. It looked at Alan from the corner of its bulging eyes.

Alan tried to start the power saw again – with no success.

Several times, Alan tried to start the saw. Each time, the noise frightened the animal even more and its shaking intensified.

The moose kept turning its head toward the offending – but possibly helping? – human at its side, no doubt wondering what would happen next.

Finally, Alan got the saw going and began to cut the first wire. Sparks were flying everywhere, adding further to the moose’s fear and the spectacle for the onlookers.

There were about a dozen vehicles stopped on the side of the highway by this time. There was no mass use of cellphones or YouTube videos in those days, just human eyeballs watching a man with a moose and a power saw.

After Alan cut through the first wire, it did not free the moose, so Alan started sawing the second wire. The moose was still desperately trying to get away.

Now there were about 20 vehicles on the side of the highway, watching this commotion.

Alan finally got the second wire cut and the moose was loose.

It walked away slowly, with a slight limp. “It kind of looked back to thank me and was probably wondering if I was nuts, getting that close to it… I had to do it because it was suffering,” Alan added. But yes, there are those of us who would say Alan is a little crazy.

As the moose stopped shaking and regained some energy, it slowly trotted further and then ran across the field. The bystanders drove away and Alan put his power saw back in his truck and drove away as well, thinking about the moose and the look in its eyes.

“As I was cutting those wires, the poor thing was shaking. Later, I realized that probably everybody watching was laughing, thinking, ‘What is he doing with the power saw?’ ... That poor moose didn’t think it was funny.”

No, my brother will never forget that moose. “I think he smiled at me. He was probably thinking, ‘Thanks for not turning me into a sandwich.’”

 

 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

It’s Only Hide and Seek If They Look For You

Grandparenting Tip of the Day:

When playing multi-generational hide and seek, choose your hiding spot carefully.

I spent some precious time with my grandchildren this week, after a rough year of very little contact due to the pandemic. It was glorious fun!

On a couple of occasions, we engaged in some entertaining rounds of Hide and Seek. The adults hid alongside the kids and we had a lot of laughs and “difficulty” finding the littlest ones at times. (Little kids are very good at hiding, you know – even when they repeatedly tell you exactly where they’re hiding!)

During the last round of the last game before everyone went home, I decided to cleverly hide in a spot that none of the kids had used yet – behind a set of long drapes in a bedroom.


The game went off the rails soon after that.

The eight-year-old was the “seeker”. He found the two-year-old and the eleven-year-old, and had come into the room where I was hiding, but he didn’t see me.

Then there was no movement or sounds of any seeking going on.

After a long number of minutes, the 13-year-old and the almost-five-year-old called from the basement to let the seeker know, “We’re down here!”

No response from the seeker. Or the other two.

I kept listening and couldn’t hear any sounds except for the gentle conversation between the two who had been found – with the little one telling her bigger cousin that she loved him.

Then the 13-year-old and five-year-old took turns coming partway up the stairs to loudly yell that “We’re in the basement!”

No response from the seeker.

“What’s taking them so long?” the five-year-old asked her older cousin, who finally came all the way upstairs – only to find out that the seeker had to stop mid-seek because he had to go to the bathroom.

Hmmm… Now I, the grandma, had a decision to make.

Should I abandon my excellent hiding spot and go visit with the parents of these kids or should I stand firm and wait until the game resumed?

Well, I’m no quitter.

So I stayed.

I stood awkwardly behind the drapes, trying to ignore the cramping in my left calf muscle and then my right. I also tried not to cough or sneeze or breathe too deeply.

I glanced at my Fitbit. Probably 10 or 15 minutes had gone by since I had last heard any commotion that resembled “seeking.” What to do, what to do…

I finally heard the bathroom door open and then the combined voices of the older kids and the younger kids … and the seeker!

No! It couldn’t be!

They’d abandoned the game and had forgotten about Grandma!

A few minutes later, I decided I actually was a quitter after all – in this situation anyway.

I came out of the bedroom and said to the kids gathered together in the next room, “I guess the game is over. And you didn’t find me.”

There were looks of surprise, shock and dismay when the older ones asked, “Were you hiding?” and I answered, “Yes. All this time.”

Then there were many looks of embarrassment among the older kids, especially the little seeker.

Oops.

To his defence, I had not been playing in every single game, so it was a little harder to remember whether he was supposed to find me or not. Anyway… we smiled and carried on.

I still love them all dearly, but it will be awhile before I find a super great hiding place again.

Next time, I’ll go back to sitting in the middle of the floor with a blanket haphazardly thrown over my head. They’ll surely find me there, right?


Friday, August 6, 2021

A great time at Tunnels of Moose Jaw

Saskatoon author Mary Harelkin Bishop and I had a terrific day at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw recently! We made some exciting plans for a fun launch this fall of Mary's second book in the Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventures series - Tunnels of Terror - being updated and republished by DriverWorks Ink, and then we checked out their newly renovated Chicago Connection tour. What a treat!


Editor-publisher Deana J. Driver and author Mary Harelkin Bishop in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

Editor-publisher Deana J. Driver with Kelly Carty of the Tunnels of Moose Jaw and author Mary Harelkin Bishop in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

As we ended the tour, a family was purchasing one of Mary's books from the Tunnels' gift shop - so I proudly told them that the woman beside me is the talented author of that book. They were delighted to have Mary sign the book for them.

Author Mary Harelkin Bishop signs a copy of her Tunnels of Moose Jaw series

We then spent a few minutes on the phone talking with the talented artist and illustrator for this series, Wendi Willett Nordell. We just HAD to include her in our photo - she's part of our amazing team!

Editor-publisher Deana J. Driver and author Mary Harelkin Bishop chatting on the phone with the artist/illustrator Wendi Nordell (added by the magic of technology) while in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan


Stay tuned for the republished next book in the series - Tunnels of Terror: Moose Jaw Time Travel Adventure #2 - coming in late September. We can't wait to share it with you.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Making room for book babies

You know how, when some women are expecting a baby, they have to get the nursery ready before the little one arrives? 

Well, I'm expecting five new "babies" in the next two months  in the form of new books by various authors, including pieces I've written in two of the books.

So I had to get the "room" ready  aka my garage.

Here's the "before" picture of part of my garage:

 


And after two hours of moving boxes of books, organizing and cleaning up...

Voila! 


And I sold the desk too! It had served our family well for a couple decades and has gone to a new home, where it will be lovingly used in another home-based business. How cool is that?


Speaking of cool...

During the two-hour moving period, the temperature cooperated (not at all), going from a steamy 30 degrees Celsius down to a balmy 28. At 10 p.m!

Ah, Saskatchewan in the summer... 

But the "room" is ready.

Of course, I have to finish putting the book layouts together and getting them sent to the printer etc., but let's just call this "nesting", shall we? 


(Stay tuned for news about the books and to meet their authors.)