My Mother’s Story: North Vancouver – the book!

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My Mothers Story: North Vancouver book captures the extraordinary lives of 41 ordinary women, the mothers of women living in our community.

Sponsored by Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities

“Do you know your mother’s story? Not the story of how good or bad she was as a mother but the real story of where and when she born, what her parents were like, the adventures she experienced before she had you? Write her story, from beginning to end, just the facts ma’am’, and let’s see what you know.”

This was the conversation that played out in workshops across North Vancouver as Marilyn Norry gathered source material for the play My Mother’s Story: North Vancouver, commissioned by Presentation House Theatre.  Norry and Jenn Griffin had created eight previous shows from “My Mother’s” stories written by Vancouver actors, but this was the first time they’d recruited stories from regular folk.

“Telling women that their mothers lived exciting lives, whether they knew it or not, was empowering. And we got the goods. Just hearing the birthplaces and birthdates told me I’d hit gold: Punjab, India: 1910; Macedonia: 1915; Osaka: 1934; Squamish Nation: 1940,” says Norry.

Eight of the stories were chosen for My Mothers Story: North Vancouver, which opens October 19. But all of the stories submitted were incredible. Mary Charleson, a North Vancouver author and marketing strategist, as well as a story contributor, encouraged Marilyn to publish a book of all the submitted work. “Few relationships are as powerful in shaping a life as a mother’s influence and this collective sharing of the past by North Vancouver women was truly worthy of its own book,” says Charleson.

With mothers’ birthdates ranging from 1903 to 1949, the 41 stories featured in the book explore the history of women of the 20th century with a North Vancouver perspective: all of the daughters live in North Vancouver, but their mothers come from around the world. Told without embellishment, there are no holds barred: “Adoptions, abortions, addiction, abuse, arranged marriages – and those are just the A’s,” Norry says, laughing.

Peter Gaskill, president of Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities, immediately recognized the significance of the project and has sponsored the book’s placement in schools and libraries across North Vancouver. Seniors see validation of their life experience, while younger people see how women in the 20th century really lived.

My Mother’s Story: North Vancouver features these stories:

Olive – Nottingham, England, 1903 by Kathy Hill
Lola – Rownia, Poland, 1903 by Connie Flett
Pauline – Star City, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1904 by Florence Nicholson
Hildegard – Berlin, Germany, 1907 by Heidi Tadey
Ruth – Barrie Ont. Canada, 1908 by Joan Cregan
Marion – Peterborough, Ont. Canada, 1909 by Suzanne Humphreys
Mabel – Stockport, England, 1909 by Helen Whittle
Raj-Kaur – Mehta, Punjab, India, 1910 by Judi Fletcher and Lucidea Moore
Lenke – Turia-Pasika, Slovakia 1911 by Esther Chase
Beaulah – Rangoon, Burma, 1912 by Jhaleh Zaraweh
Leola – Vancouver, Canada, 1913 by Margaret Birch
Carey – Memphis, USA, 1914 by Marylee Stephenson
Sigrid – Gross Kessel, East Prussia, 1914 by Beate Sigriddaughter
Allison – Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1914/ Joyce – Los Angeles, USA, 1928 by Kathy McColeman
Vassilka – Zeleniche, Macedonia, 1915 by Suzanne Brazeau
Jo – England, 1915 by Jane Torresan
Betty – Donegal, Ireland, 1916 by Suzanne Rayment
Elisabeth – South Croydon, England, 1916 by Janet Dysart
Eliska – Prague, 1916 by Andrea Fecko
Velma – Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1916 by Gaile Lacy
Eva – Chatham, Ont. Canada, 1918 by Grace Gordon-Collins
Dorothy – Radisson, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1918 by Pat Ceraldi
Violet – Langbank, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1918 by Barbara Perrault
Gwendolyn – Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, 1919 by Jean Redpath
Louise – Prussia, 1920 by Roseanne van Renesse
Julia – Bukovina, Romania, 1920 by Debra Ensign
Violet – Little River, Quebec, Canada, 1921 by Carollyne Conlinn
Rosa – Moreira de Geraz do Lima, Viana do Castelo, Northern Portugal 1923 by Maria Carolina de Faria Torres
Clara – Garlita, Constanta, Romania, 1924 by Irene Young
Nancy – Magnetawan, Ont. Canada, 1924 by Mary Charleson
Kathy – Sunderland, England, 1926 by Kay Rea
Beryle – Ottawa, Ont. Canada, 1927 by Rhonda Perry
Martha – Langley, BC, Canada, 1928 by Patricia Young
Margaret – Camp Lister, BC, Canada, 1933 by Kim Hirst
Miyoko – Kishiwada City, Osaka, Japan, 1934 by Kimiko Suzuki
Anna – Nanjing, China, 1934 by Helen Yeung
Aranka – Mezofalva Hungary, 1935 by Aranka (Boby) Lukacs
Chris – Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, 1936 by Peggy Trendell-Jensen
Molly – Vancouver, Canada, 1940 by Janice George
Mary – Vancouver, Canada, 1942 by Sandra Crawford
Bessie – Burnt Island, Newfoundland, 1949 by Charlaine Samson