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.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Trip Down Memory Lane - Back To Calgary & SAIT

In September 1973, I took my first class at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta. It was a two-year Journalism Administration course offered at SAIT, which prepared this naive Alberta farm girl for a fascinating, fulfilling future as a department store advertising manager, a radio station advertising copywriter, a freelance entertainment journalist, a full-time newspaper journalist, an independent freelance journalist for 30+ years, and then an author, editor, and book publisher.

The most life-changing event of those two years in Calgary was making the acquaintance of a young man from Regina, Saskatchewan, who had already worked at a newspaper for several years and had more newspaper experience than any other of the 96 students in our first-year class. Al Driver and I met in the fall of 1973 through a mutual friend and quickly became friends ourselves. We went on our first date in January 1974 and were married two years later. We have lived in Regina, Saskatchewan, since graduation, and have three grown children - a son and two daughters - all of whom have married excellent people in their own right. We are also blessed with three young grandsons, so we count ourselves lucky on many fronts.

Earlier this month, after attending our eldest daughter's wedding in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Al and I drove to Calgary to visit the Military Museums to see the treasured artifact that is on the cover of our award-winning book The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick. See my blog about that museum visit.

We also took some time to visit a few of the places that were important to us during our two years at SAIT. Join us on our trip down Memory Lane:

Currie Barracks, across the street from the Military Museums, reminded me of my summer job there between first and second year at SAIT. I was receptionist for a military doctor. Maybe that is what helped me in my years of reporting for The Medical Post, Or maybe not.

Calgary is a beautiful city, but too big for this small-town girl.

From what we can remember, I lived in the basement of this house (or one on this lot) for a few very enjoyable months in 1974-1975.

Al and I both worked at Zodiac Pizza, which may have been where this strip mall is now. Al made big tips as a delivery guy. I made meagre tips as a waitress. Woe is me.

Al lived in a basement suite of a small house that was on this lot, now home to this huge complex.

The Shell gas station is still here, though. Al recalls the manager kindly allowing him to plug in his car on their lot during the winter months.

A view of downtown Calgary while crossing the Bow River. Pretty.

A random chicken that I thought was funny.

Al and I had our first date at the North Hill Shopping Centre. He took me bowling. I'd never bowled before but beat Al quite handily. Poor guy. He still stuck around, though.

Coming up to our alma mater, SAIT.

The bank, newspaper office, yearbook office, students' union, and other offices were all in this building in our day.


As Journalism students, we worked on the school newspaper, the Emery Weal.
No paper today. It's summer holidays!

We had most of our classes in this building.

This was the SAIT residence where we lived for our first year at SAIT. Al lived in a four-room unit on the fourth floor. I am pointing to the seventh-floor room that I shared with a roommate.

These are two new student residences on campus.

We shared a hamburger and fries several times at what used to be a Fullers Restaurant across the street from the residence.

Al worked at this A & W during his first year at SAIT.

An interesting piece of art I saw on 16th Avenue NW.

The Calgary Tower, now dwarfed by the buildings around it, was the tallest building in the area in our day. Al and I got engaged at the top of the Tower!

The best place to eat burgers in Calgary, or anywhere for that matter. There is always a huge lineup at Peter's Drive-In, for good reason.

The food is delicious!

Even their garbage cans are awesome.

Goodbye, Calgary.

Ah, that's better. The flat plains of Regina, Saskatchewan.

Home sweet home.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

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

In the fall of 2008, I was contacted by a Saskatchewan man, Alan J. Buick. He heard me being interviewed on a local radio station about our then-new book Prairie Pilot: Lady Luck Was On My Side; Stories of Walter D. Williams and he called the radio station to ask how he could contact me.

Alan had been working on a manuscript for a nonfiction book and he asked me to consider publishing it. I had just started DriverWorks Ink that January. I fell in love with the story and decided to take a chance on publishing the book, which came to be called The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliot StoryAlan will tell you that after our initial meeting, I sent him home with three months of work to do in rewriting and tightening up the manuscript. We are both glad that he did that extra work because the book has gone on to become a national bestseller, sold to customers in many parts of the world. The Little Coat is also an award-winning book, receiving an Honorable Mention in teh Biography category at the 2010 Hollywood Book Festival, honoring books that would make a great film or movie). Here is a video of Alan Buick talking about his book.
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Other great things have happened because of Alan's book:

  • The little coat, given by a Canadian soldier to a little Dutch girl in Holland on December 25, 1944, was donated by Bob and Sue Elliott to the Canadian War Museum. In their discussions with Alan Buick, Bob and Sue recognized that their little coat could be a worthy Canadian artifact.
  • Bev Tosh, a Calgary artist, was inspired by Bob and Sue's story in The Little Coat book and painted Sue's wedding photo in her exhibit honoring Dutch War Brides.
  • DriverWorks Ink has donated more than $4,000 to the Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Command Poppy Trust from sales of this book. A further $1 per book sold since 2013 is being donated to the Canadian War Museum.
  • In 2013, Al and I were privileged to meet Sue Elliott in person while we were enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Europe. Read my blog about that great visit.
  • Earlier this month, Al and I were pleased to make a special trip to Calgary, Alberta, to see the little coat itself on display at the Military Museums. The coat was on loan from the Canadian War Museum, to accompany Bev Tosh's Dutch War Brides exhibit.

Here are some photos of the museum and the coat, plus a video I shot of us seeing the coat for the first time:

This Mural of Honour mosaic in the foyer of the Military Museums has 240 panels representing Canada's military history from 1812 to present day.


 In these displays at the front entrance area, I imagined a young Bob Elliott, the Canadian tank commander, and his crew making their way through Europe during the Second World War.

This was the reason we visited the Military Museums - The Little Coat:
         Here's the video of us seeing the coat for the first time:

And here is the coat at the Military Museums, Calgary - on display there until August 16, 2015:

I was in awe of this beautiful coat.

The buttons on this coat, made from a wool Canadian Army blanket, came from the tunics of the Canadian soldiers.

This is the description for the artifact.

Copies of our book, The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick, sit on a table with other items related to Bev Tosh's exhibit, below.

 Outside, on the grounds of the Military Museums, were other interesting exhibits.

This piece of metal came from one of the World Trade Towers destroyed on September 11, 2011 in New York.


Al stood by this collection of tanks to show their actual size. Al is 6'3" tall.

We were glad we had the opportunity to visit this fascinating museum and to see, first-hand, this special little coat. 

Thank you to all who take the time and care for these artifacts that remind us of our history which, in some cases, we never want to see repeated.