Marianne Van Osch is well known in the 100 Mile House area. She’s been living here for years after moving west from Ontario. A former schoolteacher, Marianne loves writing. She has recently published her sixth book, “Cariboo Christmas“. A compilation of short stories, it’s about Christmas memories and traditions in the Cariboo region of British Columbia.
How long were you a teacher for? What did you teach (or what grades)?
I was an elementary school teacher for twenty-four years. During those years I developed a method of teaching that I called A Thematic Approach to Integrated Studies. It was an unconventional method but very successful and was eventually used in many Ontario schools. I wrote several articles for educational journals on the topic.
When did you start to write?
I moved to the Cariboo in 1993. In 1997 the 100 Mile Free Press was looking for a district correspondent for the Forest Grove area. On impulse I offered to give it a try. And I loved it.I discovered that the history of this area is still young. I met true pioneers, some who had actually arrived here in covered wagons. It was amazing. There were so many stories around me. I traveled out to remote areas into a world I had never seen. I couldn’t write enough! In those days correspondents wrote a column every week and as long as a full page at times.
What is the first story or book you had published?
In 2005 I was handed a small piece of paper with the name Noveta Leavitt written on it. After a few weeks I decided to see who this was. Perhaps a story for the 100 Mile Free Press’ very popular Cariboo Calling supplement. Noveta was in her late eighties, wearing coveralls and mixing cement. We spent a lot of time that year, driving around the Interlakes area. I enjoyed her but never thought of a book until I realized all of these great stories would be lost. So I put them together for the Higgins family. Fifty copies were made but people from all of the other families included in the book bought the books immediately. Since then around three thousand copies have been made. Noveta introduced me to Albert Walters, the Buffalo Man, and soon there was a new book every year.
Every book is about someone I knew and liked very much. They are intensely personal. The photos are all family photos. Most of the photos in The Homesteader’s Daughter were taken by Noveta’s sister and developed in the farmhouse kitchen. The cover colours were picked by the subjects.
You write a lot about pioneers moving to the Cariboo. What are the things you find most fascinating about their travels and experiences?
Pioneers and their stories are important because the life they experienced is the last of a way of life that defined Canada. With modern technology no place will ever be completely isolated. However, their stories may teach future generations how to be self-sufficient in order to survive.
Your latest book is called “Cariboo Christmas”. Was there something in particular that gave you the idea to write a book about Christmas holidays?
I put together Cariboo Christmas because, every year I write a Christmas story that I read a different venues, the Forest Grove Community Concert at the school, the adult ESL dinner in town and other venues. The story is then put in the Free Press’ Christmas supplement. I decided to gather the stories, a poem tribute to the Forest Grove fire department that I read at their dinner and two essays re : Santa Claus that were published a few years ago, into one book. My friend Tom Godin surprised me with his great drawings, one for each selection.
Which magazines have you been published in?
I’ve been published in Birds n’ Blooms, Our Canada, Island Parent, Interior Woman, the OECTA Review.
Have you started your next book? What is or what will it be about?
I will start my next book in Jan. 2015. It will be about Louis Judson whose family homesteaded near Ruth Lake. It will be about his life and the small sawmills that were scattered through the Cariboo, the beginning of the forest industry in British Columbia.
Cariboo Christmas is available now on Kindle. You can download it to your laptop, PC or Kindle device and start reading it today. It’s also available through the Kindle Lending Library. Add this book to your yearly Christmas traditions for your family.
Tomorrow, December 17, Cariboo Christmas will be a FREE download. Enjoy!
Marianne’s other books will be available in paperback on amazon.ca in early January. Soon, all of her books will be available on Kindle. Either way, grab a book or two and start learning about the history of the Cariboo.