StarPhoenix features Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, a story of uranium

 

Patricia Sandberg on Lake Athabasca
Patricia Sandberg on Lake Athabasca

Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has written a great article about Sun Dogs and Yellowcake.

“The Gunnar uranium mine, located about 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon, was discovered by prospectors working for Gilbert LaBine, the Ontario-born explorer who is widely considered the father of Canada’s uranium industry.”

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake traces Gilbert LaBine’s path from his early discovery of radium on Great Bear Lake to the town of Gunnar Mines, Saskatchewan. Bridging World War II and the Cold War, the book brings life back to the long-abandoned town of Gunnar.

'A very particular time and place in Canada’s history': New book recalls Saskatchewan's forgotten uranium mine

 

Sun Dogs and Yellowcake press coverage

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Alex Browne of the Peace Arch News has written a fabulous article about Sun Dogs and Yellowcake. Publication date and purchase information to come! Launch South Surrey Sept.14, details in article. Peace Arch News article

Progress… on publishing

So who knew, certainly not I, just how long and how much work it takes to write and publish a book! But things are shaping up for the publication of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake in early September. My very detail-oriented editor Naomi Pauls has put me through a rigorous review, giving me  a new-found and hard-earned respect for the editorial role. The uber-talented Bill Glasgow is shaping the physical design of the book and Neil Klassen has lent his fine creative eye to produce three fabulous maps. And of course, the perfect cover photo is courtesy of artist and photographer Robbie Craig

Woven into the context of the Cold War and post-war immigration, and set against a backdrop of pristine Lake Athabasca with its First Nations and Métis communities, life in an isolated uranium mining town unfolds. Stories of love, loss, and adventure, with much joy and laughter.

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The photo is of me in the early days of Gunnar Mines, Saskatchewan – and in my early days too, of course.

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The art of making art, Donna Lee Dumont

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Following upon the previous blog post about Gunnar Mines alumni, Donna Lee’s role as educator can’t be separated from her art. In 2012, she wrote and colourfully illustrated a children’s book Peter Fidler and the Métis. Fidler was an explorer and mapmaker for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He married a Cree woman and Donna Lee is a descendant of this union. The book relates Fidler’s story but is, at the same time, a portrait of the oft-troubled Métis history in Canada and Donna Lee’s personal journey into her Aboriginal heritage. Continue reading “The art of making art, Donna Lee Dumont”

Donna Lee (Hoddinott) Dumont, “Métis is how you feel”

“The most wonderful thing about being Métis is that we come in all colours. My grandmother used to tell me that ‘Métis is how you feel’. I am now part of the culture and have a strong sense of belonging.”

Donna Lee Dumont

In 1957, one of Canada’s famed Group of Seven painters, A.Y. Jackson, made a surprise visit to the small uranium mining town of Gunnar Mines, on Lake Athabasca in Saskatchewan. He made a few appearances at the local Handicraft club where he gave painting exhibitions and suggestions to the members. Donna Lee was a member of this group and remembers him as being quite blunt, even caustic at times while reviewing paintings. One afternoon, when the club’s members were invited to accompany him on a painting excursion on the rocks, Jackson motioned to her to sit beside him. While they painted, he gave her little tips, such as “use a bigger brush” and “put these little strokes through the water.”

This was a key event in Donna Lee’s artistic career. Continue reading “Donna Lee (Hoddinott) Dumont, “Métis is how you feel””

Christmas Dinner 1959

As a new year dawns, the past is overtaking me. 2015 has been dedicated to shaking loose the collective memories of former residents of a small uranium mining town on Lake Athabasca. To collecting a wealth of photographs of life in the 1950s and ’60s in the town. To extensive research on how the town, Gunnar Mines, Saskatchewan, came to be and how it ended.

Now, as 2016 comes to life, so too does Gunnar. 2016 will be the year that my book on Gunnar is published.

Writing the book has been a journey back in time to my youth, a simple and idyllic life in the North. It has been a way to ‘resurrect’ my home town that closed a short ten years after it started and to reconnect with people after more than fifty years. It has also been a sad reckoning as Gunnar’s Cold War legacy for future generations hits the headlines.

In the spirit of the season, I post a photo taken in our kitchen at Gunnar  in 1959 where my mother Barb Sandberg is making the gravy while her good friend Marge Braund works at the other counter. Friendship.

Stay tuned…