Gunnar Mines, a visit to the past and a look to the future
Author: Patricia Sandberg
A former mining and securities lawyer, Patricia relied on her family’s history and interviews of over 150 people to write about the Cold War uranium mining town in Northern Canada that residents said was ‘the best place they ever lived’. She is now working on a novel.
Sun Dogs and Yellowcake has won two international awards, was shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Fred Kerner award, and was finalist for Whistler Independent Book Awards 2017.
Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, my book about Gunnar Mines, contains over 180 photos and three custom maps. But in the course of writing the story, I collected many hundreds more.
I thought it would be fun to tell the story of this long-abandoned, now-demolished but much-loved uranium mining town in northern Saskatchewan again, but this time in new photos.
You can find the first album of photoshere. More will be added later.
Gunnar Mines was at the centre of Canada’s uranium history-with ties to the production of uranium for the atomic bomb in WWII, and as a producer of uranium for the Cold War. For its residents, it was the best place they ever lived.
My husband Robert Mackay and I had such fun in Kelowna this past Thursday speaking to an enthusiastic writers’ group about the pain and gain of traditional versus independent publishing. The audience of about thirty stayed glued to their chairs for the full two hours which we like to think was because of our dynamic presentation and not because they had fallen asleep. They had so many thoughtful questions and it was lovely to share their enthusiasm about writing and literature.
This is a relatively new but growing writers’ group that meets in and receives positive support from the West Kelowna Library. Blair Jean, entertaining raconteur and author of a number of Northern books, and gracious Geneva Ensign manage the group and were our hosts. Blair spent 50 years in Northern Alberta collecting local – including indigenous – history and stories, and his books, including Clearwater Memoirs, are treasures for their preservation of Canada’s past. Geneva is awaiting the publication of her book Community Healing: A Transcultural Model that draws on her extensive work experience, and is a guide for healing of individuals and communities. Continue reading “Kelowna writers’ group is flourishing”
Two dynamic women, Lynn Duncan and Kilmeny Denny, run Vivalogue which provides consultation, editing, design, and other self-publishing services in North America and the United Kingdom. Lynn and Kilmeny decided in 2016 that the time had come to recognize excellence in the Canadian market through a juried competition to determine the best self-published books. The awards, jointly administered by the Whistler Writing Society and Vivalogue Publishing, are known as the Whistler Independent Book Awards and are the first to be offered in Canada for the independent publishing industry. In 2017, a manuscript competition was added.
Farida Somjee won the 2017 Fiction Award for The Beggar’s Dance. Paul Shore was the non-fiction winner for Uncorked: My Year in Provence. Fiction finalists were Annie Daylon for Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book 1, and R.L. Prendergast for The Confessions of Socrates. Non-fiction finalists were Monique Layton for Notes from Elsewhere: Travel and Other Matters and Patricia Sandberg for Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines—A Canadian Story. Louis Druehl won the manuscript competition and his book Kwai Scrolls was launched at the Whistler Writers Festival. Continue reading “Vivalogue Publishing, a champion of independently-published authors”
Whistler rarely disappoints its guests and last weekend of the Whistler Writers Festival was no exception as a dusting of snow brightened our first morning. The action-packed four days attracted literary giants and neophytes to share their knowledge and the pure joy of writing and reading literature. Such luminaries as Frances Itani, JJ Lee, David Chariandy, Terry Fallis and Lee Maracle – to name just a very few – generously entertained and informed us. Continue reading “2017 Whistler Writers Festival was a huge success”
I am thrilled to be attending the Whistler Writers Festival from October 12th to 15th. It promises to be a whirlwind of literary enthusiasm with touches of comedy and music as well as lively cabarets and salons of the literary variety. Some of Canada’s best-loved authors, including David Chariandy, Leanne Dunic, Terry Fallis, Steven Heighton, Helen Humphreys, Grant Lawrence, Suzette Mayr, Sandra Ridley, Mark Leiren-Young, Terry Watada,Barbara Gowdy, Monia Mazigh, Frances Itani, Michael Harris and Lee Maracle will tempt us with their stories and share their insights. At the Saturday lunch, John MacLachlan Gray, Sheena Kamal, Michael Redhill, Alisa Smith and Jenny D. Williams, all authors with a penchant for crime (between the covers only), will share dark secrets. Continue reading “Whistler Writers Festival”
Thanks to Melissa Shaw of the Uranium Investing News for a great interview the other day. She not only perfectly captured the historical and mining background to the development of Gunnar Mines, she included one of my thoughts about mining practices today:
“People who lived in this town appreciated and valued what they did. Granted, there were some risks with uranium that they didn’t realize, but they really valued the life and they appreciated the efforts that the mining company made to make their lives good there. I feel like we have lost that with the fly-in fly-out [model]. We don’t have that appreciation. We don’t have a family connection to a place, and I think we miss out by that,” Sandberg said.
And then, my next view being of course totally biased in this – the importance of story-telling:
“I feel like we could do a much better job in the mining industry of telling our stories. There are so many stories that are untold about mining in Canada. If we’re not telling those stories they’re going to be lost. Not only that, but it is a way of reaching people who are not in the mining business and letting them understand what mining contributes not just to individual people but to our country,” [Sandberg] said.
There are a lot of “Sandberg saids” here. What do you think of these two points? I would love to know.
You can read the whole article here. And of course you can read the whole true story Sun Dogs and Yellowcake by contacting me here.
I am pleased to share another review, this one from the other side of the world! The AusIMM Minerals Institute (that’s Aussie, folks) published a review in their August Bulletin Magazine. The following is an excerpt – the full review can be read here.
“…the author paints a vivid picture of daily life [in the small uranium mining town called Gunnar]. The resulting story of a strong and vibrant community spirit in the face of adversity and isolation has universal appeal and will certainly resonate with anyone who has lived in similar mining towns.” The reviewer then refers to the two international book awards received for the book and its shortlisting for two others, and continues: “In this reviewer’s opinion, these awards are well-deserved.” Continue reading “Sun Dogs and Yellowcake goes ‘down under’”
The Canadian Authors Association (CAA) is a national organization which since 1921 has been dedicated to promoting writers across Canada and to encouraging works of literary and artistic merit. It provides a wide variety of programs, services and resources, and advocacy on behalf of writers. Its annual CanWrite Conference offers authors the opportunity to learn from one another and from experts in the field.
One outstanding service the CAA provides is its Literary Awards which not only recognize a writer’s craft but also provide much-valued recognition and publicity.
On June 24th, CAA announced the 2017 winners:
Fiction: Alissa York for The Naturalist (Randomhouse Canada) Nominees: Gail Anderson-Dargatz for The Spawning Grounds (Alfred A. Knopf Canada); Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing(PenguinRandomhouse)
Poetry: Johanna Skibsrud for The Description of the World (Wolsak and Wynn) Nominees: Juliane Okot Bitek for 100 Days (University of Alberta Press); D.S. Stymeist for The Bone Weir (Frontenac House Poetry)
Canadian History: Charlotte Gray for The Promise of Canada (Simon & Schuster Canada) Nominees: Peter C. Newman for Hostages to Fortune (Simon & Schuster Canada); Jane Urquhart for A Number of Things (HarperCollins Canada)
Emerging Writer: Eva Crocker Nominees: Richard Kelly Kemick; Maria Toorpakai
Canadian Authors Fred Kerner Award: Margo Wheaton forThe Unlit Path Behind the House (Queen’s University Press) Nominees: Debra Komar for Black River Road (Goose Lane Editions); Patricia Sandberg for Sun Dogs and Yellowcake (Crackingstone Press)
Thanks to Canadian Authors for supporting Canadian writers and for my nomination. Congratulations to the winners and nominees. Thrilled to be in such accomplished company!
It was such a pleasure to speak to the Women in Mining BC group on Thursday, May 17th in the lovely Pan Pacific Hotel. When I practiced mining and securities law, it was a heads-down, get-the-job-done approach and I never joined this group. I now understand what I missed as the camaraderie and support in the group is tremendous.
The organizer of the annual cocktail event asked me if I could share some inspiring words in my role as the evening’s key-note speaker.
Sun Dogs has just won its second international award – it is winner of the International Book Award in the ‘History: General’ category.
My book tells the story of a small uranium mining town in northern Canada, set against the backdrop of the Cold War. I am so pleased that it has received this recognition. Not only does the book reveal history which is long forgotten but the people in Gunnar Mines, Saskatchewan share their lives, laughs, triumphs, and tragedies in this portrait of 1950s Canada. It’s the book about a little town that could and did defy its label as a regional story because it touches everyone who reads it.
Jeffrey Keen, President & CEO of American Book Fest which administers the competition, says of the awards, “The 2017 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the world…. IBA’s success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”
American Book Fest covers books from all sections of the publishing industry—mainstream, independent, & self-published.
For information about the first award, see the posting on this site about the International Publishers Award (IPPY) which was also for history.