Category Archives: Uncategorized

Celebrating Creative Graduates of Malvern Collegiate Institute

Malvern Collegiate Institute, Toronto

I feel very privileged to have attended Malvern Collegiate Institute, Toronto, for all five of my high school years (we still had Grade 13 in Ontario at that time) from 1967-1972. All three of my siblings also attended, so the school was a big part of our family life while living in The Beach neighbourhood during the 50s, 60s and 70s. I definitely know that who I am today was molded by my years at Malvern, where the emphasis was on scholastics, music, and athletics. Those of us who chose to take part in the excellent Music programme at the school have terrific memories of that time – we wore kilts!, had several band exchanges in other cities, we marched in the Toronto Santa Claus Parade every Christmas, and left school with a lifelong love of great music, and even professional performance for many. This was all engendered by the best teacher we could have only ever imagined having in our lives … George McRae! But then there were so many other teachers at the school who were equally as encouraging and knowledgeable about their areas of expertise that we had many opportunities to enjoy and excel in whatever it was that interested us. (And a special shoutout here to Muir Sumner who may not have been successful in making me especially fond of chemistry or the sciences in general, but has since that time been very encouraging to all of us Malvern grads via Facebook!)

For me, it was all about reading and books, when I wasn’t playing in the Malvern Band or swimming competitively on the swim team. One English lit. teacher in Grade 13, Miss Mogan, definitely encouraged us to read outside the curriculum and to even begin writing our own stories. She had graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, which was where I had already been accepted, so I paid close attention to all she told me of her time there. Miss Mogan and Mr. Sage (my other English lit. teacher) accompanied a group of students on a trip to England, which is another great reason to thank Malvern! What a trip that was! Well beyond my wildest dreams! So many good memories from that time, and it was the only visit I ever made to England during my life, as it turned out.

So, what this is all getting around to is that Malvern Collegiate Institute is celebrating its 120th anniversary on May 13, 2023!

I had been planning to attend, as I did the 100th Anniversary in 2003, but I find now that I am unable to make it there this time. I’m still following all of the postings and messages from various groups and old classmates and friends, so I feel as though I’m still a part of the school and this current celebration.

It had occurred to me though early on in the planning for this reunion that there are many graduates from this high school who had gone on to become creative in some way, whether it be musical, artistic, photographic, dramatic, written, or recorded/filmed. So I proposed putting together a listing of these graduates in order to inform classmates of what they’ve (we’ve!) been up to all these years since graduating. So I am creating a dedicated permanent page on my Blog with links to all those who respond to my request to participate in this list, and it will be available long after the reunion is over and only a distant memory. This is my way of celebrating the creativity of fellow students and the school that, in many ways, helped to engender and encourage that creativity from a young age.

I will post the link to the page, Malvern Collegiate Institute Creatives, once I have gathered information from some participating creatives, and then will add to that page when I hear from more who wish to participate. My hope is that everyone reading this list – and that doesn’t need to be just Malvern graduates, but ANYONE who is interested in creative pursuits and activities, has a chance to see how good a school Malvern was at sowing the seeds and how many grads went on to become very creative indeed! (In some cases, links will be included so that anyone can show their support of this creativity by purchasing or even just following the Creatives.)

As our school song said, “Onward Malvern! Onward Malvern, Fight on for our Fame!”

Well, this is my way of giving some recognition, and fame, to more than just the winning sports teams!!

Malvern school trip to London, 1972 (Page of photos from the school yearbook, The Muse ’72 – That’s me on the right side of the table in the pub photo!

From The Mike Robbins blog: The water jump

Mike Robbins is an author I have previously promoted on my Authors-Readers International list. We had been writing to each other earlier today, talking about my new home in Newfoundland, and specifically about the history of the province. Mike directed me towards this blog post he had written in 2019, so I thought I would share the information here on my blog. It’s a fascinating story!

Thursday, 13 June 2019
The water jump

A hundred years ago today, a large biplane lumbered into the air at St John’s, Newfoundland. Sixteen hours later, the Old and the New World were much closer

It wasn’t a great year. The First World War had stopped, but no peace treaty had yet been signed; meanwhile fighting continued in much of Europe as new countries were born and quarrelled with each other. Finland was recovering from a terrible civil war; that in Russia was at its height. In Hungary, the Soviet regime of Béla Kun would hold power for five months, during which it managed to fight two of its neighbours before being destroyed by a third. In Ireland the War of Independence began. In India, British troops killed hundreds of demonstrators in the Amritsar massacre. Even if you dodged all these, you weren’t safe; a global flu pandemic was in progress. It reached every country on earth, and is thought to have killed up to 5% of the world’s population. In fact, 1919 was a bit shit.

But even in a year like that, good things can happen. Just before 4pm on Saturday, June 14, a Vickers Vimy biplane bomber taxied out for takeoff in a field at St John’s, Newfoundland.

Climbing away from Lesters Meadow

To continue reading the original blog post, click here …

Fan mail from some flounder?

Just after the New Year, I received a message from a Facebook friend saying he was planning on reading all three of my publications in their eBook format. I was tickled pink, to say the least, and told him I hoped he would enjoy them.

So, imagine my gobsmacked surprise when, less than 12 days later, I received an email from John Edwards telling me he’d already finished reading all three books! So he was following Rule #3 on this list by writing directly to me:

Here’s the message John wrote to me (spoilers redacted!):

Hi Sue,

I quite enjoyed the read.

Island in the Clouds had the two things I like in a murder mystery. First of course is a dead body early in the book. I prefer to speculate on who the killer is than speculate of who will be killed. The second thing I like is a good twist in the plot. Here the motive came as an excellent twist. Altogether an excellent read.

One Woman’s Island was a much more thoughtful read. It has me thinking about my own relationship with Bequia and the world in general. You were able to present different motives without being judgmental. This book will keep me thinking for a while.

That Last Summer, the diary of the teenage girl stuck me as a novel from the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys era. That was until the epilogue. I then started to wonder how much of this was autobiographical. It was a nice little read after One Woman’s Island. I could, based on my own mid 60’s experiences, relate to events. It was was easy to visualize water skiing on an Ontario lake.

Thank you

Now, above in my into to all this, I said that John Edwards was a “Facebook friend”, which he is, because we have never yet met in person, even though: we both spend winters on Bequia (he lives next door to a good friend of ours, the other Canadian Sue); we are approximately the same age … me being the younger by about 6 months; and he keeps a boat moored in Toronto at a marina close to where I grew up in The Beach. That’s also where John spends his summers, in Canada. Funny that we’ve never met though in all these years of sharing Bequia as a winter home. Now I will make a point of meeting John, if only to be able to thank him in person for writing the above thoughts after reading my books.

So thanks, John! It really may seem like a small thing, but let me tell you … this writer is eternally grateful whenever she hears that anyone has enjoyed reading what I’ve written. This is what keeps me plugging away at the computer! And thinking up new story lines for future books.

John Edwards has a great love for snorkeling around the beautiful shores of Bequia, and has become an accomplished underwater photographer, posting many of his photos on Facebook for all of us to enjoy. He gave me permission to use this photo, although he was sorry he didn’t have a photo of a flounder.

Photo credit: John Edwards

Half An Hour Later In Newfoundland

When I was growing up in Toronto in the 50s and 60s, we always heard the announcement on the CBC TV news that it would be broadcast at “Ten O’Clock, Half An Hour Later in Newfoundland”, which I thought was rather curious, not knowing anything at the time about time zones throughout the world, let alone in Canada.

But now, at nearly 70-years-old, I’m beginning to live life that half an hour later – but actually half an hour earlier than the rest of Canada and the Caribbean – as we’ve just moved our Canadian residence to St. Bride’s, Newfoundland!

This, for us, was yet another adventure in our lives, much like when we first went to Bequia (1989) and decided to buy land (1992), build a house (94-96), and move there permanently (1996), but we were so much younger then …

This new adventure began as so many great adventures seem to do, when our (almost) lifelong friend, Patricia, who was born and grew up in Newfoundland, and now shares Bequia with us during the winter months, said, “You guys! You need to come to Newfoundland and see the province!” So we did just that in June of this year, along with Sue, another Bequia-Canadian friend, and we fell in love with the place! We had been looking at properties for sale and found a listing that really appealed – the morning we returned to Ontario! It was a hundred-plus-year-old traditional saltbox-style in a small town at the far end of the Cape Shore, one of the very few places Patricia had not driven to during our tour of the southeastern part of the province. So we put our faith in the real estate agent and made a sight-unseen offer two days later that was accepted by the sellers within 2 hours. What could be wrong with the place? we thought, but at least we knew we were getting 1.8 acres of land along with the house, so we figured that alone was worth what we were paying for the house.

Photo of house in the original real estate listing.

And, as it turned out, NOTHING was wrong with the house! We discovered, after the fact, that there was even an old barn on the property, although it does need some work to bring it back to what it once was. (I’m thinking here it could become a “book barn” … ) And the piece of property is lovely, former farmland, plus there are views of the ocean from the house. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to the adventure part of this story … Dennis returned to Bequia and it was left to me to wrap up everything in Ontario, once we closed on the house in Newfoundland at the end of July. I informed Fisherman’s Cove and our friends there that we would be leaving the park at the beginning of September, I listed the trailer for sale – miraculously selling it within a week, receiving what I had really wanted for it! Then the other Bequia Sue, who had stayed on in NL, came to Ontario and the trailer to help me pack the place up. After she left, I shipped a number of boxes out to our new house (mostly books … go figure). Then Dennis arrived in Canada and helped load up our car for the drive to Cape Breton to catch the ferry boat on to Argentia … just a half-hour drive up the coast from our new home.

Best laid plans though, eh?

We had organized our trip so we could stop and visit friends along the way (most of whom had either been to Bequia to visit us or owned a house there) with the intention of arriving in North Sydney the night before our 5:30 p.m. departure on the ferry the next day. Dennis had booked a spot for our car and a berth for us (that ferry is a 14-hour trip to Argentia), but the day before we were to leave our friends’ house in Nova Scotia, we received an email telling us that ferry crossing had been cancelled, due to mechanical problems, and we needed to rebook. Dennis got on the phone and managed to secure a spot on the Wed. evening ferry for our car and a berth for us. So we reserved a room in a North Sydney B&B (with a view of the ferry wharves, as it turned out) to stay for three nights. We were bidding our friends adieu and preparing to leave their house on the Sunday morning when we received another email. That second ferry had also been cancelled! In fact all ferries to Argentia had been cancelled, likely for the rest of the month. Dennis got on the phone again and managed to find the last spot available for our car on the Monday midnight ferry to … Port Aux Basques! This is the 7-hour ferry that runs year-round, but docks at the far-western part of the island – meaning we had a full 900 km./2-day drive to get to where we had bought our new house, in the south-eastern part of the province! We also couldn’t get a berth for the overnight trip, as they were all taken, so we made do with the “lounge” where, fortunately everyone else was also sleeping the trip away. But because our car was one of the first to be loaded on the ferry (the value of driving a smaller vehicle!), we were almost the first off the next morning.

From our seats in the ferry lounge, we’d watched the sun rising – Beautiful! – so we were driving in full light by the time we left the ferry wharf and began the next part of our journey on the Trans Canada Highway. As Dennis said, we were entering Terra Incognita (a term used in cartography for regions that have not been mapped or documented) for us, and we were overwhelmed with the scenery and the beauty of this new-to-us province! We likened it to scenery along a combination of highways we’d driven in British Columbia and Northern Ontario, but with a lot less traffic and places to stop for gas … we had filled up the tank on our way to boarding the ferry. I had booked a hotel room in Gander in advance, which proved to be the perfect place to stop for the night. We continued driving the next morning and, when we reached Clarenville, we began to recognize places, as we’d driven that far earlier in the summer with Patricia. Our next stop was the gas station at Whitbourne to finally meet our real estate agent and pick up the keys for the house. Then we headed down this road …

… arriving at St. Bride’s and our new home only two days later than we had initially planned.

And speaking of travelling, Dennis has already returned to Bequia. I will be following at the end of October, but I’ve already booked a return flight to Canada in April after Easter, travelling straight through from Bequia to Barbados-Toronto and St. John’s this time. I have a space booked close to the airport in St. John’s where I will store the car for the winter. In theory, I’ll arrive in April at 2 p.m., take a taxi to the storage place, pick up my car, shop for groceries, and drive 2 hours to St. Bride’s and the house. A neighbour has agreed to look after the place for us over the winter and will have it ready for my return in the spring.

I now have the car registered in Newfoundland with a new plate, I’ve just received my driver’s licence, and am hoping to get a new health card before I leave. We’ve been working hard at changing over our address, but still have a few more of those to complete.

As for the time spent travelling here in Sept., when most of the “adventure” took place … aside from cancelled ferries, a 2-day wait for the rebooking that entailed a surprise-extra 900 km drive, plus the threat of Hurricane Fiona within a week-and-a-half of us having moved into the new house … getting here and setting up the place was a piece of cake! (We got off lightly with that hurricane. Friends who we visited along the way were not so fortunate, and the town of Port Aux Basques where we had driven off the ferry just two weeks before was devastated by the storm!)

Anyway, all-in-all it was a good adventure, the best kind of adventure (feeling like Bilbo Baggins a bit here, although no dragons were involved during our adventure) as we ended up at HOME in the end. I managed to get one of the new plates for my car with the slogan “Come Home” and I really do feel as though that’s exactly what we’ve done! The people in this town, and throughout the province, are so welcoming, and we truly feel as though we’re part of the community already. (“Oh, so you’re the people from Ontario who bought Old [or “Long” as some call him, to differentiate from “Short” Willie who used to own the house across the road from ours …] Willie’s house!”) Plus the St. Bride’s Public Library is just next to our property, down by one corner of it. I could walk there across the field, but my neighbour warned me, “That’s a marshy bit down there. You don’t want to be walking through that field!” So I have to take the longer route along the road for now, which means an extra 5 minutes! I have never in my life lived this close to a library! The librarian is related to one of my other neighbours (this place is like Bequia where everyone seems to be related!) and constantly invites me in for a chat. Plus that relative of hers delivered a complete turkey dinner for Thanksgiving that his wife had sent down the road to me. Knocked the socks right off of me! We’ve also received fresh-caught cod and fresh-dug blue potatoes (that our neighbour has been growing on our property … we told him to carry on and grow cabbages next year, too!), and free-range chicken eggs from another neighbour.

So as you can tell, this is the best move we ever could have made! No scary surprises in this house (everyone tells us, “You got a good solid house there! It was always well-kept!”) … other than the amount of furniture that came with it. And the barn we didn’t know we had also purchased along with the 1.8 acres of land. The barn needs work, but we do not need it for living in right now, so we’re good.

We’ve been taking lots of photos and videos during the time we’ve lived here! Here’s a link to my YouTube channel where you may view some of the videos.

I’ve even seen two green flashes at sunset here – something I had to explain to my neighbours who thought I was making up this phenomenon. As one said, I’ve lived here all my life and have never heard of this before! Then he told me about a man, he’s dead now, who used to tell stories that no one could ever figure out whether they were true or what he’d made up. Maybe I too will eventually become one of the “characters” here in St. Bride’s … That writer-lady who thinks she sees green when the sun sets. No green flash in this sunset photo, but this is what I see from my kitchen window most afternoons.

And here’s a photo of the house I particularly like, one showing the sun rising.

Ignorance is Far More Expensive Than Education

From Tim Baker …


True story:

About two months into my senior year of high school I was in my Architectural Drafting class reviewing one of my drawings with the teacher. After we finished, he asked me what my plans were for after graduation.

I didn’t think it was necessary to tell him that my plan was to buy a Harley Davidson and tour the country, so I told him I didn’t have any.

He suggested I go to the guidance office (it’s probably called something like the “career center” these days) and speak to my guidance counsellor about college. Specifically, one in Boston called Wentworth.

That night I came home from school and announced to my mother that I was going to college.

I will never forget the look on her face when she said “Who the hell is going to pay for it?”


I couldn’t really blame her. After all –…

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MarySmith’sPlace ~ The Celebration

My thoughts are with the family and legions of friends around the world of author Mary Smith who died on Dec.25, 2021. It was my great pleasure over the years to read Mary’s books and promote them on my blogs. Mary Smith will always have a place on the Authors-Readers International list. She will be sorely missed.

Mary Smith's Place

We will be celebrating Marys life.

The public memorial celebration for Mary will be held at the Ernespie House Hotel, Castle Douglas on January 14th 2022 at 1.30pm, following a short private cremation.

Kindly email us at as soon as possible if you are able attend to help us ensure a safe event. On Mary’s request, there is no formal dress code.

We hope you will be able join us for a celebration of Marys life, in person or watch the live stream online at:

Jon and David

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22 Days in the Life of The Beatles

From Tim Baker … I’ve added my own thoughts about this to the comments section of his original post.


The recently-released documentary “The Beatles – Get Back” is all the rage these days.

As a lifelong Beatles fan I couldn’t wait to see it. Now that I have, I’d like to offer some thoughts on it.

*SPOILER ALERT* The band breaks up…

First things first – I said in a Facebook post the other day that people who know how much of a Beatles fan I am might be surprised at what I have to say. If you saw that post and came here expecting me to say that my love of the Beatles has been misplaced and I’ve suddenly come to the realization that they aren’t all that – you may as well stop reading now because that just ain’t happening.

The Beatles are still the greatest band that ever was and ever will be. Did I need 7+ hours of behind-the-scenes footage to reinforce that…

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Keith Black … A Child of the Beach in Toronto Remembers

I did not know a boy named Keith Black when I was growing up in The Beach neighbourhood of Toronto. I had never even heard his name, in fact, until I saw the listing for his new book on the Beach Metro News Facebook page. Then I read his bio in that article and realized that, while Keith is six years older (nearly a lifetime difference when you’re kids!), we had a lot in common, having grown up in the same east-end Toronto neighbourhood at approximately the same time. We are both Boomers, after all!

Keith Black in the 50s.

We were born in the same hospital (East General) and had both attended the same schools (Williamson Road Public and Malvern Collegiate). Plus we did a lot of the same things kids at that time did in The Beach. I was primarily interested though in the fact that Keith had written this book but had not yet published it in print or eBook format.

Keith and his older brother, Rick.

So I contacted him directly to ask about his plans for publication, and we quickly discovered that our families had lived only two blocks away from each other (almost just round the corner, in fact), and we both had older brothers named Rick who were the same age – and were, indeed, friends of one another during the 50s!

So I offered to help Keith get the word out about his book to my blog readers. I know there won’t be a great deal of interest out there in the wide world in a book about a specific neghbourhood in Toronto, let alone one that takes place during the 50s, but I am still in contact with many old friends from that time – some of whom still live in the old ‘hood! I trust they will all find Keith’s stories very nostalgic and a wonderful reminder of days gone by.

Me in the 50s with my older sister Betty and brother Rick.

On a personal note, I have written several short stories set in The Beach based on my time growing up there, which was in the 60s. My need to write about this neighbourhood was very strong, so I understand Keith’s desire to write down his own experiences. It’s amazing though how universal all these stories are, especially to us Boomers!

For the complete story about Keith Black and his book, as well as links to weekly reprints of the book’s chapters, please see the article Former resident’s book looks back on growing up in the Beach in the Fifties by Alan Shakleton that ran in the Beach Metro News on July 14, 2020.

A Child of the Beach in Toronto Remembers the 50s
by Keith BlackFrom the book’s back cover:

“Everyone has to grow up sometime and everyone has to grow up
somewhere and I am delighted that I did it in the Fifties and in the Beach.”
Keith Black, who was born in 1947 provides a sparkling narrative about
what it was like to be a child during the 50’s in the Beach area of Toronto
at a time when the streets teemed with children.
As we watch the children play and roam far from home, we also meet
some of the residents, shop in some of the long-forgotten stores, dine in
the restaurants, and remember some surprising events such as a blazing
gun battle on Queen Street and the year everyone received updated
Even if you are not familiar with the neighbourhood, there is something
here for you. As Keith says in the Introduction, “if you remember mello
rolls and Murray Westgate, it doesn’t really matter where you lived”. Or
Chum Charts, or The Yummy Man, or Al Boliska, or Nash Metropolitans,
or cap pistols, or The Happy Gang. And the list goes on.
BOOM. A book not just for Baby Boomers, but also for their kids and
grandkids as they try to understand what it was that molded this
fascinating but often peculiar generation.

The printed form of the book is now in stock at Great Escape Books on Kingston Road, and the stock has been re-supplied at City Books on Queen St. and on the Danforth. A copy can also be ordered directly from the author at kandjomemee (at)

Blogger’s Books: Susan M. Toy

Thanks so much to beetleypete – UK blogger Pete Johnson – for featuring me and my books on his blog today! There’s also a mention of the Authors-Readers International series I have been running here since Dec. 2019!


Today I bring you not only a book by Susan, but also a complete list of the many authors featured on her website. Susan is a writer, a former publisher’s representative, and blogger. Originally from Canada, she is now based on the idyllic island of Bequia, in The Grenadines. She has more than one blog, and is incredibly supportive in her efforts to promote fellow writers and bloggers.

This is one of her books, part of a series she has written based on life on her island.

Here is the short verson of her own bio.

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for…

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Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 1: When Words Collide – Calgary

This is Part 1 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world!

(Link to Part 2 and Part 3)

For this first part, I asked Randy McCharles, the brains and driving force behind the very first WWC held in 2011 to tell us about the Calgary festival. I took part in this conference during its early years in Calgary, providing displays of books by Alberta authors in The Book Room. The conference was always sold-out every year, making for crowds of readers and authors, publishers and promoters, gathering together.


When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

August 14 to 16, 2020

Since its humble beginnings in 2011 as a regional literary festival set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, When Words Collide has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in Canada, attracting speakers and attendees from across the country and from around the world. Each year in early August, attendees look forward to three days of presentations, discussions, and workshops celebrating the written word. With almost 200 presenters participating across a dozen concurrent tracks of programming, there is always something of interest each hour of every day. And if you do take a break in the program, there is a book room, an art show, and several areas to engage in social activities. Past speakers have included Tasha Alexander, Kelly Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Rachel Caine, Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, Faith Hunter, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Jack Whyte. Like many festivals and conventions, due to the coronvirus pandemic, When Words Collide 2020 has been postponed to 2021. In its place, on August 14-16 there will be a free virtual festival consisting of 5 tracks of programming. This festival is open to the public at no charge, and no registration is required. Just drop in and attend any virtual sessions that appeal to you. Also this year as part of our online festival, we are hosting the 2020 Aurora Awards, honouring the best in Canadian speculative fiction. When Words Collide is 100% volunteer run. Organizers, presenters, and helpers all volunteer their time and talents to make this non-profit festival a top-notch networking experience for booklovers. For those considering attending for the first time, past festival programs are available on the web site to offer a feel for what happens. If you are a lover of books and enjoy networking with authors and other readers, maybe When Words Collide is for you.

Attend free from anywhere in the world on the When Words Collide website.

The only aspects missing from this year’s conference will be … the live audiences!

And the book room and vendors market …




Promotional posters from previous years of the

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers!


And when I set up a special display of my own novel, Island in the Clouds, at the festival, I had the great pleasure of attracting these three similarly tropical-clad gents!


I even met a Klingon at one of the festivals! You just never know who is going to show up at When Words Collide!!