As I was reading the book by Gibsons writer and adventurer Rosalie Dickson Boileau, Now That Wasn't in the Brochure, she and her husband Bob were away travelling … as usual.
Her self-published book of travel stories tells something of the spirit behind the couple's roaming the globe: their desire to see the Golden Rock Pagoda in Myanmar, to ride atop a train in Ecuador through a feat of railway engineering called the Devil's Nose, to scuba dive in the Bahamas, camp amid a herd of elephants in Africa and help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Guatemala.
Some of the adventures are humourous, though they may seem funnier after the fact, such as the cavalier skipper who casually lit a cigarette on a deck flooded with spilled gasoline.
Getting a rugged Jeep stuck in an African swamp was definitely not funny, but for the fumbling efforts of a macho driver with a winch who failed to rescue them. Likewise, their adventure on an idyllic, apparently deserted beach that turned out to be ruled by food-seeking monkeys is something they can laugh about later.
During one gruelling trip, the couple, now in their 50s, stayed in Canada to hike the rigourous West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island that offered its own share of adventure.
The Boileaus never choose the easiest routes. As Rosalie explains in a prologue, there are those who are tourists and those who are travellers. She is the latter, preferring to engage with the people in the villages they encounter but always aware that they are privileged to do so.
Their wanderings took on a purpose in the impoverished African country of Malawi when they visited a school and were charmed by the children who have no desks, no books, and, in some cases, must share one pencil — prompting Rosalie and Bob to rush out to buy school supplies. The image of cute little Gerald, aged five, who looked more like a two year old from lack of nourishment, haunted her.
Back in Gibsons the couple raised funds from neighbours and friends for a charity in Malawi, and later they returned to that country to initiate a well-digging project named after a beloved family member.
“I think what I was trying to do with the book was talk about humanity —to accept people everywhere for who they are,” Boileau said. She added that she hopes her grandchildren growing up in Canada will realize how fortunate they are.
Boileau's book is a mix of adrenaline rushes and culture shock, vicariously enjoyable for the armchair traveller. It's available for $20 at a few locations on the Coast or can be bought by e-mailing email@example.com.
You've got to love a book that opens with the words: “My name is Chuck, although over the years as a police officer I have been anointed with a variety of other descriptive names.”
Retired RCMP member Chuck Bertrand's self-published book, Constable for Life, Chronicles of a Canadian Mountie, shows that he still knows how to laugh. It is packed with incidents, both humourous and tragic, that were all in a day's work during his 28-year career.
Bertrand worked in the Yukon for 23 of those years, and the stories are based on small town policing in the North.
Bertrand is fond of the thrilling tale of how he chased a man up a frozen river, even though the man was on a snowmobile and Bertrand was on foot. Amazingly, he caught up to the man who was so surprised at the policeman's audacity that he did not resist arrest. Prisoner and constable sat side-by-side resting from their exertions until the police helicopter arrived.
But many incidents had their dark side. On one occasion Bertrand answered a call around 1 a.m. during minus 30 degrees to find a violent, drug-crazed man rolling in the snow, wrapped in a straitjacket of wire applied by his brother. Bertrand was forced to restrain the prisoner from knocking out the patrol car windows with his feet. Drugs and alcohol were a big part of crime in the north.
Another story, The Chinese Restaurant B&E Caper, has all the tension and humour of a gumshoe detective story. All the stories are based on true life situations.
“They relate how a common sense, well-rounded individual attempts to police within the square mould of the RCMP,” Bertrand said.
After returning from a successful book signing road trip to the Yukon, Bertrand realized that he is far better known in the Yukon than here on the Sunshine Coast where he now lives with his wife, Annette. He has been doing book signings at the Mounted Police Post in Vancouver on a regular basis and will be meeting the public in Gibsons in July, with a return appearance at the Sechelt Seniors Centre in September.
Constable for Life is into its second edition and is available at bookstores on the Coast. For a sampling of the author's work, check out his website at www. constableforlife.com.