United For Literacy (formerly Frontier College) is pleased to be named one of three beneficiaries of the sale proceeds of A Métis Man's Dream, From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North, written by United for Literacy board member, Neil Gower KC. Neil is the secretary to the board, a member of the Executive Committee and until recently chair of the Governance Committee. Neil's donation is to honour his subject Gordon Gill, and Gordon's father, Clarence Gill. This biography/oral history tells of the life and times of Gordon Gill, Métis shipbuilder and entrepreneur, from a childhood of poverty through exploration, marine transport, shipbuilding, and the ownership of a major crane company in the Alberta oilsands, against a backdrop of the opening of the Canadian north over the last fifty plus years. Clarence moved to northern Alberta from drought ridden Saskatchewan in the 1930s, and worked with Gordon's maternal grandfather, Noel L'Hirondelle, on his original trapline. That country was largely bush, populated by Indigenous people and newcomers in those days, most without basic reading and writing skills. Clarence spent countless hours helping people with their mail, and 'official' business, helping them read what came in and writing letters and other communiques that needed to go out. These covered a variety of communications; family, government officials, land titles, military claims, sending furs to market, and whatever else the early peoples, pioneers and immigrants needed. It is to recognize this early work, much like that performed by early Labourer-Teachers with Frontier College now United for Literacy, in rail, lumber and mining camps, that this donation is made. Congratulations on the book and thank you Neil! #Literacy #UnitedForLiteracy #BookRelease
I am really proud that A Metis Man's Dream; From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North has been accepted for sale in the gift shop of The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta. Just in time for ski season and Christmas!
The Whyte Museum is one of my favourite places in the whole world. Its bookstore/gift shop is a marvel of history, indigenous materials, mountaineering, and Canadiana. The art and displays in the rest of the galleries are well worth a visit.
You know, I have to look into getting a distributor for A Métis Man's Dream!. It is crazy to think you can deliver books either by driving them to your destination, or by Canada Post or freight services. This year has been fine because I have enjoyed travelling throughout Alberta (and almost, but for the wildfires, the NWT)
And the interaction with book store owners, museum curators, and gift shop operators has been really fun. Each of them has their own story to tell, and usually great advice on what books they have for sale!
Of course, delivering books to somewhere more than a few miles from your home, only to have them take one book at a time, is, well, pleasant but frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I understand the joint issues of space and rent.
I love any expression of interest and the chance to tell Gordon's story. And until we get some traction with CBC, or the major press*, it is ok to subsidize the sales efforts...even when a retailer only wants a single copy. Sometimes, they come back for more!
Canada Post, at least in small numbers, is not the answer. I think the single mailers for delivery in just western Canada (which by the way does not include the north) is about $17.00 which is significantly more than the author's share of the book proceeds. If you add it on to the price, well now you are looking at $41.75 instead of $24.95/$26.95, which may well price you out of the local history market. Bulk shipping brings the cost down.
Contrast this with the United States. According to a lovely young woman in a Phoenix post office, the US Postal Service has long had a mandate, in honour of its founder Benjamin Franklin, of shipping books cheaply. Apparently Franklin was also a book seller. In my experience earlier this year, the cost of buying the shipping container and postage from Phoenix to San Francisco was around $6.00 a book.
I have had discouragements, naysayers, rejections, and frustrations (including one prospective agent who said not even to bother, since no one would know either Gordon's name or mine).
Luckily for us, and our over 800 purchasers, and multiple library users (so far), that was not a universal feeling.
But what has made up for all that potential negativity is the tremendous outflow of unsolicited compliments, and reviews, an engaging and appreciative audience, and wonderfully encouraging book sellers.
My friend, classmate and fellow author Justice Adam Germain (retired) told me that for self-published books, A Métis Man's Dream is for sure a Canadian Best seller!
So, many thanks and much appreciation to all of you.
* CBC North did a nice interview with me; Hay River Hub, The Yellowknifer, and Mackenzie Report all did features in their newspaper coverage and we rec'd a really nice mention and small review in the November issue of Alberta Views Magazine.
Just in time for Christmas.
Meet Neil at Owl's Nest Books, 815a 49 Ave SW, Calgary, Saturday, November 25, 2023 from 1 to 3 pm.
He will be signing glossy, deluxe colour editions of A Métis Man's Dream: From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North.
Explore the history of Petroleum exploration in the high Arctic through the eyes of this Métis Shipbuilder, one of the pioneer fabricators of vessels for that work.
Calgarians! There are new supplies of the deluxe, glossy, colourized and signed copies of A Metis Man's Dream at Shelf Life Books (1302 4 ST. SW ) and Owl's Nest Books (815a - 49 Ave SW)!
Cafe Books on Main Street in Canmore still has a couple of copies of A Metis Man's Dream left. It was so nice to stop in the other day and see them prominently displayed!
Alberta Views Magazine has very nicely noted A Metis Man's Dream as one of its New Alberta Books in the November, 2023 edition.
I am really pleased to announce that Owl's Nest Books, located at 815a - 49 Ave SW, in Calgary now has a good supply of A Metis Man's Dream for sale!
These are the glossy, colour, deluxe and signed by the author version and would make (IMHO) a wonderful Christmas gift for those with an interest in the North, Metis history, marine transportation, and the oil and gas business.
A Metis Man's Dream also provides background on questions about residential schools, Metis Scrip (land claims) and education, and the Town of Hay River which has recently been much in the news because of the northern wildfires.
Just a quick note that Chapters West Edmonton (170 Street and 99th Avenue) has taken more copies of A Metis Man's Dream. This is their FOURTH ORDER! Thanks Chloe and friends!"
I am so proud to have received this comment from a former senior executive at Imperial Oil (Esso) which played a major role in all things oil and gas in the NWT, during Gordon's time in the north (and before and after, of course) specifically at Hay River, their Norman Wells Refinery and in the Arctic:
"I read your book a couple months back and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really interesting to hear about many of the places that I’ve visited over the years during my career and to hear about a remarkable man who came from nothing but was able to accomplish so much in such harsh conditions. You did a great job laying out the timeline of his life in an informative and entertaining way. The unique writing style of interspersing Gordon’s commentary was a novel approach. I also thought the pictures and maps were of great value. Many writers don’t take full advantage of these features in a story. (Sometimes imagination isn’t enough!!). Last but not least, it’s a high quality book that is both lovely to look at and handle unlike many paperbacks. So well done!! 10/10!"
Happy to say that I have just restocked INDIGO South Edmonton Common with A Métis Man's Dream! So far, we have sold over 25 copies from this location alone!
I "blogged" about insecurity the other day. Trapped in the dog days of a too smokey summer and a bit at loose ends, I was thinking my book selling had stalled and ideas were hard to come by. I was, to be honest, feeling pretty blah, when what to my "wondering (ears) should appear" but a call from Edmonton's Indie bookseller premiere that they had a cheque for me! And that they needed more books! So, thank you to Audrey's Books at 107 st and Jasper Avenue (with lots of parking right there!).
It was a good cheque too, the best so far and more money for the donations Gordon and I are giving to United for Literacy and Métis Education and betterment!
Audrey's has been wonderful to work with and they have a tremendous 'local' author section, a very extensive Edmonton, Alberta and Canadian history component and some very nice and knowledgeable people. Let us all do what we can to support local and Canadian retailers!