Now and for the foreseeable future I live, read, walk, muse, write and occasionally tell stories in Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada. This year I am producing LEACOCK 150~100~75, a celebration of three Stephen Leacock anniversaries: of his birth on December 30, 1869; of his book The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice written as articles in 1919 and published as a book early the following year; of his death on March 28th, 1944. You can find out more about that project at http://www.voyageurstorytelling.ca. This blog will be dedicated to it for the duration, as will the others linked alongside.
I walk primarily through our own place, which is 100 acres of bush growing on limestone-dolomite bedrock with a variable but always thin, sometimes non-existent, soil mantle. This kind of terrain is called “alvar”. I have laced the place with trails, some 18 kilometres of them; otherwise we leave the management of the land to Nature. Creatures animal and vegetable abound in great variety, as is typically the case on Bruce Peninsula.
I used to tell primarily in Country Supper Storytelling Concerts which my wife and I hosted each summer in our home for fifteen years from 2002 to 2016. Then, in 2017, we re-traced Stephen Leacock’s 1936-37 tour of western Canada, from Thunder Bay to Nanaimo, telling stories by and about him. In 2018 I wrote a book about our adventures, called The Unsolved Riddle(s) of Stephen Leacock. You will sense perhaps that I am somewhat fixated these days on Unsolved Riddles, those teasing situations habitually served up to us by life which we complicate by trying to turn them into solved riddles, thus adding immensely to both verbiage and stress.
I was born and raised in the Muskoka District of Ontario, studied at universities in Toronto (U. of), Chicago (U. of) , and London, England (U. of; LSE), lived for many years in Alberta where I raised my family, then for three years in the Northwest Territories, and have worked in or visited most of the provinces and territories. When our aging parents needed us we returned to Ontario.
I passed through science and the humanities into mathematical methods and econometrics and onward into the field of economic statistics, then into wider fields of economic and social research, especially in what used to be called the “mid-North”. For many years I practised a set of methods that I called “community research” with wide applicability to questions of economic and social development and service in northern and rural areas. This led into management of not-for-profit service agencies. I completed that part of my career as Executive Director of NWT Family Services in Yellowknife.
Along the way I engaged in a second part-time career as a performer in and producer of opera and operetta which led after sundry adventures into storytelling, to which I brought an operatic approach.
I began writing for performance not long after I began performing. The kind of writing that you will find in my blogs is not entirely new to me however. When I was engaged in community research my job was to express the values, ideas, opinions, hopes and fears of the people who spoke to me in formal processes of research. Now I take the same approach using the voices of authors I read and of my correspondents.
I hope you will become one of those. It’s not terribly complicated. You can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter (@conwaypaulw) or on Facebook. I will be posting announcements there regularly during the Leacock celebrations this year and on into early 2020, when the next project, whatever it is, will heave in sight.