Blackburn commits stories to pages of new book
Gerry Blackburn has a keen memory and a gift for telling tales about village life.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing Blackburn tell one of his stories could easily conjure his distinctive voice as he is quick to recall decade-old stories in detail, usually finding a humourous angle. That voice shines through in his new book Creemore, as Remembered by Gerry Blackburn.
From his early days as a young prankster, to respected entrepreneur and family man, Blackburn’s stories pay homage to the many characters who built this community while illustrating how it has evolved into the village it is today.
At 91, Blackburn has been an important community member, Mason, businessman, a town councillor and reeve, a husband, father and friend.
Blackburn said the book is a result of encouragement by community members to get all of his stories on paper.
“I occasionally would tell a story about something that happened way back… and various people have said, you should write a book about that,” he said.
He said he really started to think about it seriously about one year ago and then he sat down at the computer and started writing – admittedly typing the whole thing with the one-finger hunt-and-peck method.
“The book is about a lot of different things,” said Blackburn.
It starts out with stories of his early childhood, growing up on the family farm on Concession 6, in what was Nottawasaga Township. Blackburn, born in 1928, paints a picture of a hard-working community. The collection of stories tells of a village where life centred around school, church, with community productions and events for entertainment. Neighbours helped each other out at barn-raisings and threshing bees.
“In those days, every 100 acres had a family on it – a family would farm on 100 acres – so there were many more people around in the countryside then than there are now and they could not get out of Creemore easily,” said Blackburn. “So they bought everything they needed in Creemore.”
Of walking the four kilometres to school, he writes, “In those days there was no concern about child molesters, so we eagerly jumped into any car that stopped to give us a ride. There was absolutely no hesitation, whether we knew the driver or not. In fact, we were always quite put out if someone would go past us.”
The roads were impassable by car in winter so people got around by horse and cutter and there is a good story about getting dumped out of the sleigh during one particularly bad snowstorm.
Blackburn also tells tales of bobsledding down Ten Hill, some of the vehicles he has owned, the early days of law enforcement and many other aspects of life in Creemore.
Blackburn is hosting a book launch and signing at Station on the Green on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. Blackburn will say a few words at 2:30 p.m. The books costs $20.