Campbell River author is delighted to publish his latest novel – Campbell River Mirror

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Jim Creighton would like to receive feedback on his latest book, Mrs. Johnson and the Rabbit.

The former director of Spirit Square was inspired by his experience living on a First Nations reserve accessible by air in northwestern Ontario, as well as his fascination with the Hudson’s Bay Company for write the historical fiction novel.

He discussed the story at some length as he sat outside a Campbell River cafe on a crisp fall morning.

Sporting a hand-knitted Cowichan hat on his head, Creighton interrupted the interview to say hello to people he knew and strike up conversations with passing young children.

A concern for humanity permeates much of what he says and does.

His latest literary effort, eLKFallsbC, was a humorous collection of short stories based in a coastal town similar to Campbell River. It was nominated for a Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for humor and has been fairly well received locally.

Mrs. Johnson and the Rabbit was a little harder to write and a lot harder to publish.

Creighton started assembling it five years ago and it’s been two years finished.

The story is made up of two scenes separated by 60 years. It tells the story of a torn family and how, by chance, they find themselves reconnected.

A heartless practice, which Creighton said was common, begins the story.

After a postman, or operator, of a Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading outpost had completed his 20-year stay in a remote location, he would be sent home – often to England or in Scotland – with a pension.

Often, letter carriers would be married to indigenous women, who would not be invited to make the return trip to their country of origin.

“The company allowed it until years later,” Creighton said, “Because marriages were never considered ‘Christian’.”

The concept is something the author struggles to understand.

“Who would you leave your own family?” ” He asked. “It’s shocking.”

A journey through time, another along a treacherous river, and another through the allegory lead the reader to what Creighton calls a “bang” of a conclusion.

Attempts to involve a publisher have been thwarted by the stigma of a white Canadian writing what amounts to a First Nations tale.

“Regular publishers wouldn’t touch it,” Creighton said. “Once they got a feel for what it was, they weren’t even interested in reading it anymore.”

In writing it, Creighton consulted with First Nations writers for advice on how to tell the story with respect.

“My respect for Indigenous culture is important,” Creighton said, noting that he was very careful when writing the book.

“It’s a hell of a good novel,” he added. “And it deserves to be read.”

As he believed in the quality of the work, the local writer decided to self-publish 500 copies of the book.

It will be available at Coho Books, as well as at Save-On Foods in early November.


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