Thursday, November 24, 2011

Surrender Day Luncheon at Royal Van Yacht Club

The Naval Officers Association of British Columbia held its annual Surrender Day luncheon at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club Jericho clubhouse on November 22nd. This historic event was first celebrated in 1919 by a group of RVYC members who had served with the Royal Navy in the Great War, and has continued without major gaps but for later war years.
The "Surrender" refers to the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow in November, 1918. Enterprising Orkneyans organized tours of the seventy-three ships, then peacefuly at anchor--until, it being apparent the war was over for the German fleet, their crews scuttled them or ran them aground  ten months later. By the outbreak of World War Two most of the ships had been salvaged by the British. Only eight of the scuttled vessels remain on the bottom of Scapa Flow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

War Horse coming soon

I was fortunate to be able to attend an advance screening of "War Horse", Steven Spielberg's big screen version of Michael Morpurgo's young adult novel which was also translated to the London stage. Now also on stage in New York, the movie version is due to open to general audiences around Christmas Day. Given my special interest in the Canadian cavalry, I was very excited about attending the screening. I am restrained from doing a review, but I will say I was most impressed. The scenes involving cavalry action and fighting in the trenches struck me as very authentic.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Advance Screening of "War Horse".

I have been looking forward to seeing "War Horse", the big screen production by Steven Spielberg of the book and play of the same name. It is due out in late December. But only today I found out about an advance screening. I have spoken to Emily Copeland, an intern at DreamWorks Pictures in Toronto, and the screening is set for Wednesday, November 16th, at the Scotiabank Theatre on Burrard Street in Vancouver. If you would like to attend, Emily can be reached at:1-416-596-3398 or email . Feel free to mention my name!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Soldier of the Horse" at Giller Light Bash (Busy Week Part 3)

The amazing Sean Cranbury and his team have put together the Giller Light Bash Vancouver, to be staged tonight at W2 in the old Woodwards building, 111 West Hastings in Vanvouver from 5 to who-knows-when tonight. The event will feature live screening of the Giller awards from Toronto, and will be hosted by Hal Wake of Vancouver International Writers Festival and Dina del Bucchia, writer and performer. See for details.
Four local writers will be reading from their work; including myself with a short presentation from "Soldier of the Horse". The local portion of the show, including the readings, will be live streamed between 7 and 9 at and also on the Province website.

"Soldier of the Horse" is off to North Vancouver (busy week Part 2)

North Vancouver's Silver Harbour Seniors' Centre will be the scene of a remembrance event at 1 pm today. Located at 144 East 22nd Street, Lonsdale, the Centre will feature a musical presentation of wartime songs, and a reading from "Soldier".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Honoured to attend "Mary's Wedding"

Very high on my list of activities this Veteran's Week will be attending as a guest at "Mary's Wedding", the opera commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria, on November 10th. The evening will pull together several narratives for me:
One of the three characters in the opera is Sergeant Flowerdew. The real Gordon Flowerdew was indeed a sergeant early in the Great War, but as a lieutenant led the charge of C Squadron, Lord Strathcona's Horse, at Moreuil Wood, France. The battle took place on March 30th, 1918.
My father, Tom Mackay of Winnipeg, was acting troop leader, 1st Troop, at the time of the charge.
I have told a fictionalized version of my father's war in my novel, "Soldier of the Horse".
Three of my father's four children served in the navy; none opted for the army.
While at sea with the RCN, I served with then Sublieutenant Michael Morres.
Michael Morris is Production Patron of "Mary's Wedding".

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strathconas to attend Mary's Wedding

An excellent newsletter has been put out by Pacific Opera Victioria in support of their brand new opera, "Mary's Wedding". The opening night (purposely timed for the evening of Remembrance Day) will be attended by serving members of Lord Strathcona's Horse, normally garrisoned at Fort Steele, north of Edmonton. Some of the soldiers will be in regimental dress uniform, and some in historic World War I uniforms. (For some samples, see previous blogs).

The POV newsletter can be seen at

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Signings, from the Cariboo to the Okanagan

A quick road trip last week saw "Soldier of the Horse" signed and delivered to readers in 100 Mile House and Kelowna.

What makes talking about "Soldier" very interesting is the fact that it prompts strangers to tell me about their grandfathers, great uncles, even great-great grandfathers, and their service in World War One. Some, like me, had fathers there. Recounting and hearing those stories often brings a lump to the throat.

Our visit to Nuthatch Books in 100 Mile House was a lot of fun. I chatted to many customers on Friday, the 28th of October, and exchanged stories with a few.

Mosaic Books in Kelowna saw a steady stream of interested customers reviewing my laptop images of the Canadian Cavalry. I try to provide a business card to every purchser, in the hope that further conversations take place. To all those who purchased or stopped to chat--thanks, and I hope to see you again soon.