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New blog post: My Writing Day

Writers often get asked about their writing routines and schedules. I do only have one steadfast rule, and that is to write something every day.

That being said, when writer and editor Rob McLennan asked me a few months ago to be a part of his ‘my (smallpress) writingday’ blog I was happy to contribute and participate.

My desk. Note the whiteboard calendar, which I stopped writing on in March 2020. I haven’t scheduled anything since then! The handsome gentleman in the front of the calendar is my grandad, Thomas Farrow Smith. The dog is Penny. Yes, that is snow outside.

If you know a writer who would like to submit his/her/their “writing day” description, contact Rob at rob_mclennan@hotmail.com

To check out my submission, click here.

One thing I’ve changed about my writing day is the introduction of an ongoing notebook of things I’ve done and stuff I have to do. One the left-hand side of the page I write the date and everything I did that day for my writing, whether it be contacting someone, researching a topic, transcribing notes, ordering books, reading on my subject, editing something, or working on book promotion. Everything gets written down because it helps me keep track of my activities and, if I have a slow day (I have many!), I can flip back and look at what I’ve done. It encourages me and keeps me motivated. Plus, it generates new ideas.

Then, on the right-hand side of the page I have a To Do list, and I add to it whenever something comes up. And when I finish a task, I cross it out and write DONE. Very satisfying.

I’m not the most organized person, so I have to find ways that work for me. Researching and writing a book isn’t done just by one person, it takes a team of people. Granted, the author is the one coordinating everything, and, initially spending time and money getting the project off the ground. So, with all the different aspects that need to be wrangled, I find that keeping a record of my activities in the notebook really helps.

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New Blog Post: Cataline’s Last Days

Jean ‘Cataline’ Caux lived a full and varied life in the new province of British Columbia. After running pack trains up and down the province for more than 50 years, Cataline retired to Hazelton to live out his days.

He had many friends there, and they looked after him. These were the days before pensions and universal health care. However, Cataline was lucky to be in Hazelton because there was a subscription service (a form of health insurance) to the Hazelton Hospital.

A new book, ‘Service on the Skeena: Horace Wrinch, Frontier Physician’ by Geoff Mynett mentions Cataline (page 250):

“The old packer Cataline died in 1922. He had always said that he did not like hospitals and that people only went there to die. Despite such talk, though, he had in fact contributed to the hospital’s appeals for donations over the years. He had resisted going there for as long as he could. His friend Sperry Cline took him eventually, grumbling, and groaning an, and there he did die.”

“They buried him in the cemetery on top of the bluff. Horace and Cataline were hardly friends, but Cataline was a link to the distant pass, to the days when Hazelton was cut off from the outside world for four or five months of the year. H was, moreover, a link to the gold rush days of the middle of the previous century.”

Find A Grave, an online collection of gravesites and cemeteries, has a listing for Cataline. He is buried in Gitanmaax Cemetery in Hazelton, British Columbia.

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New blog post: Cataline postcards

Jean ‘Cataline’ Caux in his later years.

When I was doing research for “Cataline: The Life of BC’s Legendary Packer,” I was at the Quesnel & District Museum & Archives and stopped in at their gift shop and found two postcards and one card. Of course I bought them, took them home and propped them up on my desk as inspiration during the writing and editing process.

This is the back of the above postcard. It says it was printed by Pioneer Postcards, Kelowna, BC.
Writing on the front of this card says “H.B.C.’s mule train, freighting from Hazelton, BC

Cataline used to pack for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and correspondence from that time showed he frustrated the straight-laced Company’s men with his unique and somewhat casual approach to business and financial matters.

Back of the above H.B.C. mule train postcard

I also picked up a few pen and ink printed greeting cards depicting local (Quesnel and Barkerville, BC) historical events and people. I love this little card that depicts Cataline:

There is an anecdote inside:

And the back of the card says “The Barkerville Trail HastiNotes” which were printed by Spartan Printing, Quesnel:

Whenever I’m doing a research project or research for a book or article, I always scour local stores or online sites like eBay for related ephemera. It makes the past so much more real and alive.