Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Write Canada and other Summer Plans

by Anita Mae Draper

It's a cold February day and although the sun is still low at its apex, it's brighter than it's been for months. A seed catalogue  arrived in last week's mail. And I'm coming out of a slump that had me hiding through Jan and carried into Feb. But spring is on its way and my Inky blogmates are already talking about this year's conference schedules.

I've made up my mind. I'm going east. Yep, I've decided to take in the Write Canada conference June 11-13 in Toronto, Ontario. Hosted by The Word Guild, Write Canada is billed as Canada's largest Christian Writers' Conference. Several of the faculty members are familiar to me, and I know a bunch of other Canadian authors who will probably go. That helps as this will be my first time attending.

So why did I choose a conference with a couple hundred attendees instead of the two thousand who will be attending RWA in New York this year?

Simple... I get to drive. I get to drive through the beautiful, rocky Canadian Shield where the scent of trees leaves me dizzy with memories. I get to drive through places I love, places I was grew up in, places that make me feel like I've come home.

TransCanada Hwy 1 near the Manitoba/Ontario border, 2013

In Aug 2013 my sister Bonnie and I took a wild ride into Ontario which I then blogged about in Memories of Rocks, Trees, and Lakes. Of course, there are lots of other pics in the post, but that title just about sums it up. Our journey took us 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) in 8 days.

This time I won't be rushed. At least, that's not the plan. Yes, I'll stop to visit relatives along the way like I usually do, but this time I will go way farther. At least an extra day travel  - 2 if I stop to take pics. And you know me and my camera...

I'm going to drive past my first military posting at CFB North Bay - it's the place where Nelson and I met, married, and celebrated out first child.

Nelson holding Crystal under the North Bay Gateway of the North Arch, 1979

An hour south, and I'll enter the area where much of Nelson's heritage comes from. Since we've been working on his family tree for our kids, I'm going to use this time to visit as many museums, libraries, and cemeteries as I can. And relatives. At least one cousin has offered their home to me and then threatened me if I didn't stay. I'm getting excited to see her again since it's been at least thirty years since I've been in that area. Yeah, I know... a long time between visits.

Once I'm near Toronto, I would love to make a sidetrip down to Niagara Falls. It was another one of the places Nelson and I visited when we got news of our imminent posting to the West. While looking through the photos of that trip where we hauled around our little Scamper trailer, I saw this one and realized it was our first 'selfie'.

Anita, Nelson, and Crystal Draper, 1979, Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

On Feb 5th I blogged about the 1912 Niagara Falls Ice Bridge over on the HHHistory blog and all that research sure brought back the memories. In this next photo, I'm standing beside the Horseshoe Falls looking downriver toward Laura Secord's homestead - a few miles away. You can see the Bridal Veil, and then the American Falls on the right, and then the Observation Tower. On the left is the Canadian Skylon Tower. Between them spans the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge.

Looking downriver from the Horseshoe Falls with the Bridal Veil and
American Falls on the right, 1979, Niagara Falls, Ontario. Photo by Anita Draper.

I'm showing this because Inkies Barb and Deb both live in New York and we're discussing where we can meet. I hate to admit that I don't know exactly where they live, so Niagara Falls might be out of their way, but it would be a quick jaunt across the Rainbow Bridge - foot traffic - if we decide to meet here. If they're closer to the eastern end of Lake Ontario, that would be okay too, because I'd love another gander at Old Fort Henry in Kingston. Really, it doesn't matter where we meet - I just want to spend time with them.

Here are some other things I'd like to do:
- Ride the Portage Flyer Steam Locomotive, Huntsville*
- Cruise Muskoka or Lake Simcoe in a steamboat*
- Ride a moose on the 1908 Herschell-Spillman carousel, North Bay
- Take a one-day Apprentice Workshop at Black Creek Pioneer Village, Toronto

*This was something common back in the days of Nelson's grandparents, which was often referred to in their letters and in the local paper. A 127 year old steamboat still cruises the Muskoka district, and although I'm not sure what type is on Lake Simcoe, the location has to do with a future story and I really think a lake cruise will help my research. 

There are too many things I'd like to do, and I still need to figure out if I want to do my visiting before Write Canada or after. Usually, I'm too busy before a conference preparing my pitch, paperwork, and wardrobe. Yet afterwards, I'm keyed up and anxious to get back to my writing. 

And it will be a lo-o-o-o-ng way back!

What do you think? Should I play the touristy researcher before or after?

I'll sign off with one more photo I took on that long ago trip to Niagara Falls...

Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, 1979. Photo by Anita Draper


Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their four kids. Anita's stories are set, but not limited to the western prairies. She is blessed to be included in Guideposts Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection. Anita is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Management. You can find Anita Mae at


  1. Barb and I met with Niki in Buffalo when she was driving east. It takes me the same amount of time to get to the Niagara River as it does to get the St. Lawrence River, but Barb lives near Buffalo, so that works for me!

    I am a bit envious of your trip! And looking forward to seeing you again. YAY!

    1. Wow... Buffalo is only a hop, skip and a jump from Niagara Falls. And I've never been to Buffalo so it'll be an adventure wherever we meet. :)

  2. the trip sounds awesome Anita. i'd lean toward a before conference visit since you'll be all jazzed up to write after the conference. I wish I lived closer to NY so I could see you too.


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