Cariboo Christmas – a New Book by Marianne Van Osch

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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.


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I’ve been fortunate to visit and talk with Marianne about her writing. I read her first book The Homesteader’s Daughter shortly after we moved to the Cariboo and became hooked on her storytelling. I’ve read every book that she has published and learned a lot about the pioneers who homesteaded properties in the 100 Mile House area. The determination of those pioneers amidst extremely harsh winter conditions struck a cord in me. They not only logged their properties, they built their homes from those logs. Fathers built small school houses for their children. They created roads, trading posts, a mail system and most importantly they created communities. The Cariboo is what it is today because of the hard work of these families and they are held in high esteem for their contributions.
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Here are the answers to a few questions I put to Marianne about her books.

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 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.

The Homesteader’s Daughter

Along the Clearwater Trail

The Buffalo Man

A Teacher’s Story: Forest Grove 1951

The Wanderer – Spar Trees and Mammoth Tusks


Prepper’s Gift Guide

Preppers Gift Guide

Here’s some great ideas to get for the prepper in your home – some of the gifts are high end, others are much less expensive. There’s a few stocking stuffer ideas in there too.


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9 tray Preppers Gift Guide

Excalibur Dehydrator – I bought one this year and I love it. I used it for making apple chips and they turned out fantastic. Jaime and I made quite a bit of Rhubarb fruit leather too. The Excalibur is a quality machine; it’s simply the best dehydrator on the market. I had wanted one for years and this year I finally ordered one and I’m so glad I did. Next year I’ll be drying more of our vegetables for long term storage.


IMG 8434 300x225 Preppers Gift Guide

I’ve got the 9 tray unit with the timer. Mine came with a 10 year warranty (which is double what they usually are). Check out their site and take a look at their specials. One note: I notice they are selling clear doors for their units, that cost a bit more. I wouldn’t bother getting it; I would never go by just looking in there to see if the foods were dry. I would be in there bending and tasting, so the solid door is working just fine for me. Right now, they are offering a savings of $50.00.


leatherman Preppers Gift Guide


Leatherman – This Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool is great to have in your jeans. No matter what kind of chore you might need to do on the property, you can probably use this one. Made of stainless steel, it will last forever and comes with all of these features:

420HC Combo Knife, Spring-action Regular Pliers, Spring-action Needlenose Pliers, Spring-action Wire Cutters

  • Wire Stripper, Small Screwdriver, Medium Screwdriver, Phillips Screwdriver,
  • Spring-action scissors
  • Wood/Metal File, Bottle Opener, Can Opener

These are a great stocking stuffer and teenage boys LOVE them! Priced just under $30.00 and worth every darn penny.



lodge dutch overn Preppers Gift Guide

Lodge Cookware is fantastic. Made in the USA (that’s important!) it is so durable it will outlast YOU.  This 5 quart, Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Dutch Oven with Dual Handles will work great on your wood cookstove, your flat topped woodstove or your campfire. It’s big, so get a delicious pot of soup going and invite some friends over to share. Stew and dumplings cooked on a woodstove in the winter – that just can’t be beat. Comes with a lifetime limited warranty against defects, and when cared for properly, this virtually indestructible pan should last for generations. It’s 40% off right now, which is a great deal.


handcrankradio Preppers Gift Guide

Ambient Weather Emergency Solar HandCrank AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, Flashlight, Phone Charger, Weather Alert, Siren  is on sale for $39.99, which is 33% off. These are so handy to have whether there is a power outage, you are camping or you live off grid.  Here’s the details:

The compact-sized WR-112 includes all of the features of the popular WR-111B plus an emergency siren, SOS flashing light, power outage flashing beacon and improved charging circuit.

  • A must for any emergency toolkit, Bug Out Bag, or just hanging out at the beach, the ADVENTURER combines multiple emergency features into one compact package.
  • The WR-112 is a Digital AM/FM NOAA Weather Alert Radio, a powerful 3 LED flashlight, and cell phone, MP3, MP4, Amazon Kindle, Apple Ipod, Ipad, IPhone and USB charger, all in one portable package.
  • The ADVENTURER is a five way charger – charge from a USB device (computer), AC or wall power (with optional converter), DC or car charger (with optional converter), hand crank, or solar panel.
  • With the ADVENTURER, you can fully charge the WR-112 through the USB/AC/DC adaptor. You can charge the cell phone/mp3/mp4/USB with no cranking. Other crank chargers require continuous hand cranking to charge a device.


lifestraw Preppers Gift Guide

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter  Perfect for when you need to be sure you are drinking CLEAN water! Makes a great stocking stuff or a gift for hikers and preppers. It’s less than $20 and is a valuable addition to your homesteading supplies.



Having emergency supplies on hand is a good idea for everyone. Don’t count on others or on your government to help you when disaster strikes. Count on yourself and it will add a feeling of security, knowing you can take care of yourself and your family.