Ontario II – Jack and Bonfire head to the big screen…
First two weeks of May were a whirlwind of Ontario book signings, talks and LOTS of riding. 🙂 (I’ve never made one of those smiley things before!) I had shipped my bike to Mississauga after agonizing about riding it out from Black Diamond, back and forth, back and forth until we had a heavy snowfall warning in southern Alberta which made the decision for me. After being wonderfully hosted in Mississauga by a friend’s sister, (Syrian people feed you middle eastern delights until you almost explode! No thanks, is not recognized.) I took off on my bike for Tillsonburg to begin with.
The weather was brilliantly sunny and about 25 degrees. Perfect. I took one of the two monster freeways to start with, the 403 west, but then peeled off at Brantford south onto Hwy 24 and then west on Highway 3 to Tillsonburg. Hwy 3 was a delight; nice poky road through farm country and forest and no traffic. I was on my way to my amazing friend, Robin Barker-James’s place; an old tobacco farm that he has transformed into a treasured historical park with trenches, field hospital, medieval fort and museum/theatre. Robin won the Order of Canada and Queen’s Jubilee medal for his high school history teaching. Where was he when I was in school?!! and my history teachers were “dead from the arse up,” to use a rude but useful Irish expression. THEY were bored and so were we. I stayed at Robin’s for a couple of nights and talked history and then set off for book events in Waterloo, Guelph and Ottawa.
WWI trench recreation on the Barker-James farm[/caption]
In the quaint city of Guelph I spoke at the Guelph Rotary to about 80 people. A man in the audience asked if I’d mind doing a reading from the book so I obliged with a few pages. After a delicious Italian lunch they bought every book I had with me. Of course native son, John McCrae is near and dear to the people of Guelph. The next day I gave a talk and signed books at McCrae House Museum, the modest little granite bungalow where he was born. They also own the beautiful, adjoining yard which has a monument to McCrae and In Flanders Fields.
Then I rode to Ottawa and stayed with my friend, MGen (ret’d) Ivan Fenton and his wife, Sue. Ivan is a producing partner with me and John Kerr of Crowsnest Films on a documentary about the Girouard family, For Country, which we hope to complete soon. New developments with the Girouards will make it a complete story that began in 2008, shortly after CWO/RSM Bob Girouard’s death in Afghanistan. It’s an inspiring story about a fascinating family of soldiers and most importantly, about healing.
So now I’m at another friend’s apartment in Toronto which I have use of as a base for the next year, if I need it, which is awesome. I am here to meet with two broadcasters and pitch the movie adaptation, Bonfire, from the book, Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman. As we come to the hundredth anniversary of WWI with all its events, I KNOW this story would be loved on film and probably re-run for decades to come.
On June 12th I head back down to Tillsonburg to Robin’s place to watch him in action with a large group as we goes over the finer details of the War of 1812. He has busloads of student and cadets come through to learn about our history and he brings it to life like no one else. After that, I head up toward Algonquin Park and then make my way back across Canada to Black Diamond. Hopefully the sun will come out.
On the way to my friend’s place here in Toronto I got totally messed up trying to take his exit off the 401 and of course it was absolutely bucketing down. The classic 401 NIGHTMARE. First I missed his exit going east, turned around and then missed it again going west. So I got the hell off the !@#$% 401 and phoned him. He directed me in on nice streets with names and I finally made it about 2 hours after leaving Mississauga where my bike had been stored! Oh, a lot of that time was like oh, 45 or 50 minutes in first gear on the “freeway” not only creeping in first gear but riding the clutch as well! So I arrived late, dripping rainwater at my friend’s apartment. But all was made well by a warm welcome, beer and a delicious moose meat dinner. Important note: my new BMW jacket actually IS waterproof 🙂 unlike my old Alpinestars which has done its time.
Stay tuned for notes from the road…
I want to start by saying that I loved “Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman”! I am thrilled that there could be a movie about Jack and Bonfire in the not so distant future. For reasons I’ve never really understood I’ve been interested in the life of John McCrae since I first saw his picture and actually connected him to his famous poem I, like most Canadians, learned growing up.
It seems like you did quite a lot of travelling in France and following in McCrae’s steps. I am very interested in doing the same and who appreciate any tips you have on that kind of trip. Also, do you know if the there is anything left of the No.3 Canadian General Hospital where he was stationed? I’m curious as I haven’t been able to find any information on it. Send me and email if you would like, thank you for the wonderful book 🙂