A VICE-REGAL LAUNCH

Every Canadian Province has a Lieutenant-Governor, whose formal role is to represent the Crown. In recent years I have been lucky enough to know two of Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governors very well. The first was the Right Honourable James Bartleman, whom I knew in a previous life as my author Jim Bartleman. The second is the current occupant, the distinguished public servant Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who has been a friend for many years in our joint support of The Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs.
It was at the 2014 Couchiching Conference that the subject of my new book came up. “Across Canada By Story?” said Elizabeth, the incoming L.G.” I’d like to launch that book in my official chambers.”
I was intrigued, but only made polite murmurs. It wasn’t fear that a Vice-Regal launch might involve a bottle of champagne being smashed across my bow that stopped me from enthusiastically advancing the idea. I didn’t want to seem, well, pushy, and I didn’t know if Lieutenant-Governors really did official book launches.
But some months later I ran into Elizabeth again, and she said, “Now, I really want to launch this book of yours. When should we do it?”
So her people talked to my people, meaning my friends at ECW, and lo and behold, on September 28 Jane and I walked into the elegant Suite in the north-west corner of the Ontario Parliament building in Queen’s Park. It was a formal, warm and welcoming event for my friends in the book world and beyond. Our very informal grandchildren, Lindsay (11), and Alistair (8), sat happily on the carpet for the speeches, and Alistair was later able to tell the Lieutenant- Governor his opinion that his Grandad’s greatest publishing achievement was to get Roy MacGregor writing The Screech Owls hockey books.
The formal part of the event was astonishing, since from the podium Her Honour (and such was the name I was remembering to call her) proceeded to talk about my new book in a thoughtful, imaginative way that would have graced a major book review. (It was, we learned later, all her own work). In response, I noted that the stories from the book came from literally right across Canada, with one coming from this very room. Then only a slight expansion in distance into Queen’s Park was required to take in the strolling Robertson Davies, the statuesque Al Purdy, and the nearby world-famous academics, Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. I then concluded with an indiscreet story quoting Newfoundland’s salty Lieutenant-Governor, the Rt. Hon. John C. Crosbie.
It was a very memorable event. And, not for the first time, I was reminded how fortunate we are to have Elizabeth Dowdeswell as Ontario’s Lieutenant- Governor.

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2 comments on “A VICE-REGAL LAUNCH

  1. Tom Adlhoch says:

    Sorry that I was out of town at the time of launch (not that I was invited!), but still would like to purchase an autographed copy of “Across Canada by Story”. Just now finishing “Stories About Storytellers” and am anxious to read more. Are book signings planned?

    • Douglas Gibson says:

      Tom, Sorry just to be getting back to you now……too much travelling!
      I’m going to be roaming around, and happily signing books. Contact me at doug1929@rogers.com and tell me where you are, and I’ll tell you about my nearest signing point. Best wishes,
      Doug

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