Well, the flight to the Magdalen Islands could not land due to fog, so it flew on
leaving me to take a taxi back to the hotel. Not one to be easily repulsed, I arranged
with a teacher to talk at the Gaspe CEGEP, but she told me all the students were on strike!
She’s suggested the Wakeham School for Adult Education in Gaspe. I duly turned upand spoke to a gathering until 10 o’clock, extolling the virtues of the Gaspe existence
as opposed to the crowded fume-enshrouded streets of Los Angeles, or indeed any
big American city, where they’d earn more money but live a much less happy existences.
Right after that, I went to the little CBC studio in Gaspe, to tape an interview
for Breakaway (14:11 mins - scroll down the Breakaway website page to
April 27, 2012) on the Quebec Community Network for Friday night
at 5.10 to extol the joys of book reading.
Thursday morning (my birthday) I talked in a large auditorium to Grades
7, 8, & 9 for an hour and a half, and to grades 10 & 11 in the afternoon.
Receptive students, certainly, who appeared (which the teachers
confirmed, many of whom came to listen) fascinated by their
own histories on the Coast, as exemplified by The Alford Saga.
Between the two events, the literacy head for the School Board took me
to lunch and they gave me a birthday cake. In the afternoon
the whole student body sang Happy Birthday...
Friday April 27th At the Bonaventure Polyvalente I spoke to the combined
classes of 10 and 11, very bright students, taught English by the grandson
of my own English teacher, the Bishops College School’s legendary Lewis Evans,
who had a theatre named after him. Again, an apparent success! The father
of this Lewis, the teacher, Lewis Sr. , wrote with me the script
of Ups & Downs that I shot in 1970.
Later, I spoke at the small Evergreen school (buried in the larger French school)
perhaps the warmest of all my visits. The whole school listened avidly, though
their teachers assured me that on a Friday afternoon they were all
just bursting to go home.
Onwards! That evening in the public library in Hopetown, I was introduced
by a Gaspesian bigwig, former Head of the Gaspe CEGEP, Gary Briand,
who himself began the Book Festival in 1984. The pretty Mayor, Lisa McWhirter,
told me she was fascinated, as was her husband. Gary, me, Mayor Lisa, and Brian,
the retired head of New Richmond School, posed afterwards.
Over and out? Not at all. Saturday I talked to the steering committee
of the Women’s Institute of Bonaventure County, my most receptive audience yet.
In sum, I believe the Book Fest to be a very important, if not
THE most important event, on the Gaspe Coast.