I grew up in Thunder Bay in the shadow of the Sleeping Giant, the Stone Man. In Thunder Bay the Sleeping Giant dominates the landscape and like the eyes of the Mona Lisa it follows you everywhere. My childhood in Northern Ontario was wonderful, with summers spent running wild at our cottage at Loon Lake, and winters skiing the slopes of the Nor’Westers, but as I grew older I began to feel the isolation of the place and longed to see more of the world.
I left Thunder Bay when I was 19 and began my odyssey, which took me to Britain, Europe and then back to Canada where I settled in Toronto for a time. I followed my bliss – books and reading and worked for the Toronto Public Library. They were good years. I worked with children, did puppet shows and storytelling and found my tribe of fellow writers. Toronto is where I brought my two sons into the world, which was my greatest joy.
It was in Toronto that Wake the Stone Man began to stir inside me. I thought I'd left Thunder Bay when I was 19, but in truth I carried it with me in my bones and in my heart.
Like Molly Bell, I had been a young girl who stood on the outside of the fence of a residential school looking into the eyes of the girl on the inside of the fence – and that girl kept whispering to me. She whispered to me when I was a young mother working as a children’s librarian in Toronto. She whispered to me when I worked for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre helping to nurture Canadian children’s publishing. She followed me to Cambridge, England where I worked as the Arctic bibliographer for the Scott Polar Research Institute, and she followed me back to Canada where I settled in Halifax and began a hospital program that gives free books to babies. The whisper got louder and more persistent and I knew it was a story I had to tell.
Wake the Stone Man is fiction, and the characters who populate the novel are not real. But the staggering beauty of Superior’s north shore, and the strength and resilience of the people who live there are very real.
I believe the writing of Wake the Stone Man was the journey I had to take to find my own way home. In the end I discovered, as Molly did, that we all carry home within us. We can always get there, the tracks run both ways.
Carol McDougall is a writer and advocate for early literacy. She was born in Northwestern Ontario and has been active in the Nova Scotia writing community for many years.
In 2005 she was awarded the Mayor’s Award for her contribution to literature and literacy and in 2010 received the Progress Woman of Excellence Award for the Arts. In 2012 Carol received the Beacon Award for Social Justice Literature for her novel Wake the Stone Man, which was inspired by her northern roots.
Carol's work includes writing for children, non-fiction, fiction, essays, book reviews and video scripts and her short fiction has been published in Room and presented on CBC radio.
· Let's Read, Nimbus Publishing - 2016
- Wake the Stone Man – Roseway Press, 2015
· Look at Me Now! - Nimbus Publishing - 2014
· Baby Talk – Nimbus Publishing – 2013
· Baby Play – Nimbus Publishing – 2012
· Baby Look – Nimbus Publishing – 2012
· Nova Scotia Guide to Frugal Living – Nimbus Publishing – 2009
· In the Soul of the House – Room of One’s Own – 2001