A mystery woman who passes through Ashcroft during her long walk from New York City to the top of the world; a Saskatchewan farmer who builds an ocean-going ship far from any ocean; camels braying on their way to the Cariboo goldfields; a woman and her stepchildren rescuing the crew of a ship wrecked in Lake Erie: these are just some of the characters you will meet in Kamloops author Elma Schemenauer’s latest book, YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure.
Over the next three weeks she will be telling stories from the book and speaking to audiences at local libraries. “I’ve been interested in history, myths, and legends for some time,” she says, noting that all of the stories in YesterCanada are based on facts she has uncovered over the years. “Some are based on legends and myths of First Nations people. I like to follow up and find what I can, using the Internet, books, and museums. Sometimes I find people who were involved in the stories, and they’re the best of all to speak with. And if you can find something written by a person who was there, that’s always good.”
The 30 stories, which span more than 700 years of Canada’s history, feature healthy doses of history, mystery, and adventure from across the country, and were written after a good deal of research. “A lot of things I’ve written are based on history,” says Schemenauer, who during her time spent working in the publishing industry in Toronto was able to write, and contribute to, textbooks.
YesterCanada is Schemenauer’s 77th book, although the author—who began writing professionally in 1968—is quick to add that a lot of her works are for children, and are therefore quite short. She describes her latest collection as accessible for teens, although the subject matter is more for adults.
Born in Saskatchewan, Schemenauer is the first-generation child of Mennonite immigrants from Russia. After teaching in Nova Scotia and working in publishing in Toronto for many years, she and her husband moved to Kamloops in 2006, where Schemenauer continues to write.
“I’ll be telling stories from my book, rather than doing readings,” she says of her upcoming appearances at the Clinton Library (10:30 a.m. on March 17), Ashcroft Library (1:30 p.m. on March 17), Cache Creek Library (10:30 a.m. on March 24), and Savona Library (1 p.m. on March 24; all events are free). “It’s more interesting to tell things than to read. And there’ll be a PowerPoint presentation of pictures to go with the telling of the stories, as well as a chance for people to ask questions.”
Copies of YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure will be available to purchase at all the events at a cost of $20 per copy, and Schemenauer says she is happy to sign copies. For more information about Schemenauer and her works, visit http://elmams.wixsite.com/elma.