Govier and Humphreys at the Stockey tomorrow
Expect to see a crowd arriving at the Charles W. Stockey Centre on Thursday evening 23 June. We will be welcoming two of Canada’s most renowned authors, Katherine Govier and Helen Humphreys, when they return to Parry Sound to read from, and talk about, their most recent books.
Katherine Govier’s life straddles Canada’s east and west with deep roots in Parry Sound and Georgian Bay. Her Uncle Ken Johnson lived in Carling, on the property originally settled by his parents. Katherine says, “His mother, my great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann, was the daughter of the two Johnsons who homesteaded in Carling, called Arthur and Elizabeth. She was a widow and taught kids who could not be in the public system for 1$ a year. Ken called her aunt Lizzie”.
“Elizabeth Ann married Johnny Govier who worked as a ships carpenter, died young and is buried in the Hillcrest Cemetery along with his daughter Mabel who died as a child.” Johnny’s son George, Katherine’s grandfather, was born in 1885, leaving school at the end of Grade Eight, in 1910 to work in the general store in Parry Sound. A few years late he headed west, to open a general store in Eyebrow, Saskatchewan, moving further west when that store failed.
Katherine Govier’s most recent novel The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel tells the story of Herbie Wishart, a man who leaves Nova Scotia in 1910 for the west, much as Katherine’s grandfather George left Ontario in 1916. Escaping the confines of the past, and the expectations of society, he went to seek his fortune in the west. There he becomes a guide in the newly established Rocky Mountains Park. Woven into the story of the fictional Herbie Wishart is the real history of the Canadian West and the development of the fictional mining town of Gateway – a place very similar to the real Canmore, Alberta where Katherine Govier lives part of each year.
Helen Humphreys returns to Parry Sound with two new books. Her novel The Evening Chorus tells the story of an English officer, resigned to living out the Second World War in a German POW camp, where he begins studying a pair of redstarts near the camp, in an effort to fill his days. Meanwhile, back in England, his young wife falls headlong into a passionate affair with another man. With wonderfully developed characters, exquisitely shaped by, and reflected in, the natural world The Evening Chorus is a brilliant, beautifully written story of love and the tough decisions that are made in difficult times.
For more than a decade Humphreys has owned a small waterside property on a section of the Napanee River in Ontario. In the watchful way of writers, she has studied her little piece of the river through the seasons and the years, cataloguing its ebb and flows, the plants and creatures that live in and around it, and the signs of human usage at its banks and on its bottom. In The River, a gorgeous and moving little book, Helen Humphreys uses fiction, non-fiction, natural history, archival maps and images, and full-colour original photographs as she examines a place of both change and permanence.
Both Katherine Govier and Helen Humphreys will read from their work and talk with the audience about their novels, giving insights into the books themselves and their lives as writers. Join them at 7:30 pm on Thursday 23 June at the Charles W. Stockey Centre in Parry Sound.