Friday, May 23, 2008



I have been so busy lately that I haven't even had time to blog. Here's one of the reasons why: I wrote a small contribution to the Downtown Memory Project that Simon Fraser University, downtown campus, was holding.
My little story of how I got my start as a copy-runner at the Vancouver Sun newspaper was chosen to be displayed on the wall at the Harbour Centre downtown (site of the SFU downtown campus.) Here's my story:

THE SUN TOWER: Memoirs of a writer

A building in the downtown east side of Vancouver that inspires memories, is the old Sun tower at the corner of Beatty and Pender Streets. Imagine my thrill in 1952, a 17 year old aspiring writer just out of high school, when I was hired as a copy runner in the Sun’s editorial department. On the fourth floor of that tower, my future was shaped. I was privileged to become part of an editorial staff that included Hal Straight,managing editor, and renown writers like Jack Webster, Paul St. Pierre, Barry Broadfoot, Clyde Gilmore, Pierre Burton and Simma Holt.
My post was the centre of the busy editorial room, answering the booming calls of “Copy!” to put the squares of newsprint containing their stories into the tubes that were sent by pipe to the composing room. My world was the clatter of typewriters, the smell of newsprint, the demanding calls of reporters sending me on errands. I aspired to become a crime reporter and Simma Holt wanted to train me for her desk job taking police calls. But the city editor wouldn’t accept a 17 year old preacher’s kid for this role, so I joined the news library staff where I was put in charge of the bio and crime files. The reporters were my mentors. I was encouraged to write, and years later my journalism experience in the Sun led me to become a published travel writer. I’m a full time writer now, writing both travel and historical fiction novels, teaching writing classes for the V.S.B. I owe all of this to my seven years at the Vancouver Sun. Each time I pass that tower I remember those exciting, happy days that launched my writing career.


I have a lot of wonderful memories of those years I worked in the newsroom, first as a copy-runner and then as a news librarian. It was, without a doubt, the best job I ever had in my life and it was certainly instrumental in leading the way to me becoming a travel writer as well as all the encouragement I got at the time from the reporters for the historical writing I was doing back then.

It was quite an honor to have my little piece chosen to go on display for this project. Later it will be on-line and perhaps later published in an anthology of Downtown Memories.

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