Books & Company, signing in Prince George

Signing copies of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake at Books & Company in Prince George, May 12

Looking forward to signing copies of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake at Books & Company in Prince George – the place where people who love books gather.

The date is Friday, May 12th (time will be provided later). A chance to perhaps meet some old school chums from junior and secondary school and then spend Mother’s Day with my mom.

IPPY Award recognizes Sun Dogs!

IPPY award winners announced.

So much of the credit for this book goes to the many former Gunnar residents who spent hours on the phone and on email with me – and sometimes in person – sharing their personal stories about life in a small mining town in northern Canada in the 1950s and 60s. Without them, this story would not have happened. With them, a part of Canada’s history was brought to life. I am so very pleased to announce that with their efforts and support Sun Dogs and Yellowcake has won an IPPY award.

I am grateful to all. Names such as raconteur banker Bill Shurniak, favourite teacher Phyl Cameron, Joan Buck who related her love story and Gary Ciochetti who did the same, Terry Schorn who continues to be a big Sun Dogs’ booster and George Imeson who was lucky to make it to another movie. Kids like the Irwins, Laroques, Ian Cosgrove, Ken Hoddinott, the McFaddens and others who had the time of their life and proved kids were lucky to survive. Schleiffer, Bengts and Georgijevic – the names of post-war immigrants. The Majeaus, Raineys and O’Neills who still make me laugh when I read their stories. As always, my mother Barbara Sandberg whose stories and memory made this book possible. Continue reading “IPPY Award recognizes Sun Dogs!”

Discussion and Reading, White Rock Library

Join Patricia and other authors for a reading and discussion of their books.

Join Patricia and other authors in the White Rock Library for an afternoon of reading and discussion of the books they have written. Questions are welcome and attendees will have the opportunity to talk to the authors after the presentations.

Patricia will talk about her book Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, a book that weaves personal stories of people in an isolated northern mining town into the history of Canada’s production of uranium for World War II and the Cold War.

Dressed in our Sunday best. Copyright Sandberg family

New Voices Reading, Vancouver Public Library

Join Patricia and other authors for a reading and discussion of their books at Vancouver Public Library.

Join Patricia and other authors -Jerome Baco, Carson Du, Patricia Donahue and Rena Graham – in the Vancouver Public Library for a fun evening of reading and discussion of the books they have written.

Patricia will talk about her book Sun Dogs and Yellowcake, a book that weaves personal stories of people in an isolated northern mining town into the history of Canada’s production of uranium for World War II and the Cold War.

Questions are welcome and attendees will have the opportunity to talk to the authors after the presentations. The address is 350 W. Georgia St. and the presentations will be in the Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Room on the Lower Level.

Trespassers may be prosecuted

Speech to Saskatchewan Geological Society

Speaking engagement at Saskatchewan Geological Society lunch.

Thanks to the Saskatchewan Geological Society for inviting me to speak on February 1st at one of their luncheons in Regina on my favourite topic: Sun Dogs and Yellowcake. It has been many years since I have experienced February weather in Saskatchewan – might have to go parka hunting!

This is not a public event, but the following day, February 2nd, I will be at the Chapters Bookstore at 2625 Gordon Road from 1 to 4 pm for a book signing.

Nesbitt-LaBine Uranium Mines

Trespassers may be prosecuted

In the early 1950s, uranium mining was a highly secretive operation and the warning sign in the above photo warns prospective visitors.

The Nesbitt-LaBine ore body, discovered in 1950, was a hope and a promise that did not last. Investor interest was high as Gilbert LaBine, who had made Canada’s first discovery of uranium on Great Bear Lake, was a major owner. His partner in the venture was Johnnie Nesbitt, a daring and accomplished bush pilot. The mine was nestled beside Eagle Lake near Uranium City, in the famed Beaverlodge District at Lake Athabasca.

As he had done at the Port Radium, Beresford Lake and Long Lake mines run by Gilbert and Charles LaBine, my grandfather was overseeing the construction and my father working as part of the crew. In December 1951, my mother took me, at the tender age of three months, from a warm house in southern Saskatchewan to join my father where we would all live in a tent house.

My uncle Don Sandberg with Prince. Don’s tent house in background. Photo courtesy Ollie Sandberg

Forecasts for a home-run were high but neither the Eagle Lake deposit nor other small deposits found by Nesbitt-LaBine yielded much ore and the mine closed in 1956. The partnership between LaBine and Nesbitt would fizzle even earlier, over a controversy involving a new prospect on the Crackingstone Peninsula. A controversy? Of course – it was a mining deal. The new prospect? Gunnar Mines.

Gilbert LaBine, Father of Uranium

Gilbert LaBine on right

The Republic of Mining website includes Gilbert LaBine in a list of Canada’s ten most important mining men. LaBine was often referred to as Canada’s Father of Uranium. You can see the Republic of Mining article here.

In the 1930s photo above (copyright LaBine family), a young Gilbert Labine is on the right. LaBine is the adventurous and determined mine builder who features in Sun Dogs and Yellowcake. He discovered both Port Radium at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories and my town, Gunnar Mines, on Lake Athabasca. Port Radium produced radium in the 1930s for medical purposes until it was discovered after the start of World War II that its waste product – uranium – had more value. Port Radium’s uranium contributed to the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Gunnar Mines’ uranium was sold to the United States to support its arms race against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In a recent interview, I discuss the history of uranium in northern Canada and life in the Athabasca uranium camp that sprang up during the 1950s uranium rush.  Click here, then choose podcast, then Adam Stirling,  and go to the December 1st audio file for Sun Dogs and Yellowcake.

Thanks for stopping by!