At Home with Jennifer Butler

A Note from the publisher

We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.

Meet Jennifer

My name is Jennifer Butler, and I am a writer of nonfiction, and the great-granddaughter of the founders of Telegraph Cove on northern Vancouver Island. Naturally curious about people, especially unsung women, I was thrilled to research and share the lives of not only my great-grandmother and grandmother, but all the remarkable women who lived in that tiny, isolated coastal village, in my book, Boom & Bust: The Resilient Women of Historic Telegraph Cove. And in a noteworthy coincidence, since 1993 I have lived in a house named Touchwood in Vancouver, so having my book published by TouchWood Editions was a deliciously uplifting event that felt like it was meant to be.

As a writer, I am used to self-isolating, sitting at my desk watching the birds outside in the garden and promising myself I will get out there and go for a walk, or weed the herbs, and then hours go by, it’s dark, and I am still sitting at my desk writing. So even with the COVID-19 virus issue, I am continuing to write, but I am also looking at this time of cancelled social gatherings and postponed events as an opportunity to get other stuff done. So I am ticking off that huge list of household repair and paint jobs, cleaning out files and cupboards, researching the family tree, cleaning and polishing furniture, trying to find lost things that I know are somewhere dammit, sorting a seemingly bottomless pit of old photographs, cooking and baking for those who need food delivered, phoning and Skyping my friends and family who are older, solitary or lonely, and rewarding myself with guilt-free evenings playing board games, reading books, and drinking wine.


Mame Wastell’s Granddaughters Remember

Excerpted: Boom & Bust

“In 1939, we went [from Telegraph Cove] to Vancouver to see the new Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, just after his brother had abdicated the throne—a story that gripped the world. It was a huge deal, because we were excused from school. We all brought our best clothes and shoes to wear. There was no room in the inner harbour, so we tied up at Caulfeild Cove in West Vancouver and got ourselves dressed and ready. It was rough as hell, and a challenge to disembark. As the boat would come close to the float, the swell would either move the boat away or we’d crash into the float. I remember watching Mame trying to get off the boat. At one point she jumped, but it was just as the boat rolled away and she fell right in the water! The next roll and she would easily have been crushed to death. A whole volley of people rushed forward to help, men putting all their might against the boat to give Mame enough time to splash up and scramble onto the float. She stood there, clothes dripping with cold sea water and soaked to the skin, having narrowly escaped a horrific death, put her hands on her hips, and cursed, “Well, damn, I had my best corsets on!” So that was that. You can’t go to see the Queen if you are not wearing your best clothes, not Mame anyways. She would have been in her 60s at the time. She did see the King and Queen another time, however, but was not completely impressed, telling us, “The Queen was lovely. She was waving, but the King just sat there like a bump on a log.”

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