Chaos in Halifax trivia

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Although World War I was not fought on Canadian soil, the largest single explosion of the war occurred in Halifax.

Neither the Imo nor the Mont Blanc were supposed to be where they were on the morning of December 6th, 1917. The Mont Blanc was delayed on its journey from New York by a storm and the Imo’s departure was delayed due to a coal barge that arrived late for refueling. Neither vessel was able to enter or leave the harbour late on the 5th because the submarine gates, intended to keep out German submarines, were closed.

An inquiry into the explosion found that both pilots were to blame.

Help poured into Halifax from the Boston area. To this day, the people of Halifax send a gigantic Christmas tree to Boston each year as an expression of their gratitude.

Some scientists believe that the heat from the explosion was so intense that the people in the immediate vicinity of the ship were vaporized; the water in their bodies simply turned to steam and they disappeared.

A telegraph operator by the name of Vince Coleman was a hero. When the Harbour Master realized which ship was burning, he asked Vince Coleman to send a message warning incoming trains to stop. He stayed to send the message, knowing that he would die, and actually said his goodbyes in his message. Vince Colemen was killed that day, but the trains and their passengers were saved.

Scientists believe that the Citadel, which sits atop the hill in Halifax, deflected the force of the explosion and, consequently, helped save more of Halifax from complete destruction.

When I was writing Chaos in Halifax, I gave the manuscript the working title “Chaos in Halifax”. Once the manuscript was complete, the publisher asked me to come up with a title. I brainstormed more than 1000 titles for this novel (no exaggeration), but the publisher wasn’t too keen on any of them for various reasons. So finally, I sent an e-mail listing my favourite ten titles for “Chaos in Halifax”, and they all agreed that they liked the working title. I couldn’t believe it, but I like the title too.

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Shadows of Disaster trivia

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In my mind, Frank Slide, although a horrible disaster is a slide of miracles. Here are some of the miracles that occurred that night:

Of the 100 people in the path of the slide, approximately 30 people survived.

A mining horse, Old Charlie, buried for a month in the mine’s tunnels, lived.

All of the miners working the night shift, who were completely entombed inside the mine during the slide, survived. Only one was injured. Two others who were at the entrance to the mine were killed.

On April 28th, a day before the slide, the railway construction crew in Frank pulled out. Their replacements were supposed arrive in Frank by train on the morning of the 28th, but the engineer of the train missed their stop. As a result, they were not in the camp on the night of the slide; had they been, they would have been killed.

A baby living in the path of the slide was thrown from her crib and landed on a hay bale from the stable. She was found the next morning completely unharmed, only cold and hungry.

There is another large fissure at the top of Turtle Mountain. Scientists believe that the mountain will slide again, but not in the direction of the towns in the Crowsnest Pass. High-tech sensory motion detectors have been placed on the mountain to monitor any movement.

There is so much rock in Frank Slide that the bodies of those people buried were not recovered.

The bank reported to be under the slide was not actually buried.

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Stormstruck trivia

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In the midst of the chaos and confusion on the night of November 9th, some of the bodies of the sailors from the Charles S. Price, which overturned,  washed ashore wearing life preservers from the Regina. Noone knows what happened in the tempest on Lake Huron to produce this scenario.

Most of the ships that sunk during the Great Storm have been found by divers and it is interesting to note that the shipwreck of the Regina remains anchored near the American side of Lake Huron.

The diary of the Regina’s captain was recovered, intact and legible, a year later when his body washed ashore. It was frozen solid, but when museum staff thawed it, they were able to read the entries. Unfortunately, no entries were made in the final few days of the storm.

One sailor’s body was identified by his father as John Thompson, who had been aboard the Carruthers. A funeral was held; however, John arrived home in the middle of his own funeral service, having changed ships and waited out the storm in Toronto.

A seaman by the name of Milton Smith, was troubled by strong premonitions prior to the departure of the Price and left the ship, thereby escaping disaster.

Goderich was once visited by the queen, who declared it to be Canada’s prettiest town. I haven’t visited all Canadian towns, but Goderich is a beautiful place, built around a central octagon and full of beautiful old homes.

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Offside trivia

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Offside was the first novel I wrote. It is loosely based on an actual event that happened in Calgary, Alberta, when I was teaching.

My editor for this novel did not watch or know hockey. This presented a problem when it came to editing the hockey parts of this novel. However, she was married to a famous bank robber, who had been a junior hockey player. She suggested that her husband, who was serving a jail sentence at the time, edit those parts and so, parts of Offside were edited from jail.

The original title of this book was Hooked, but another book for young adults with that name was published at the same time. As a result, we had eight hours to come up with a new title. It was a stressful day.

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One on One Trivia

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One on One came about because of a character I created in Offside, a goalie. He was a minor character, but he became so alive that he threatened to take over any scene he appeared in. Eventually, I couldn’t keep him quiet and had to write him out of Offside. Years later, I decided he deserved his own story and wrote One on One.

The technical engineering information about completions rigs and sour gas wells came primarily from my husband who is an engineer.

One on One was originally twice the length. I had to edit this book many times.

Goalies fascinate me. I interviewed many goalies at many different levels when I wrote this book. I also attended the triple AAA tryouts in Calgary and was even mistaken for a scout, with my notepad and pen, once.

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