for the Web, books, displays, scripts, speeches and magazines.
writing is key to delivering messages effectively. The more important
the better the writing should be. Clear, lively,
concise text that is grammatically correct should
never go out of style
no matter what the message or the media.
Globe & Mail, Toronto, ON (and Chemical News magazine)
Research and write feature obituaries on important and interesting Canadians.
This work must be done quickly because of tight deadlines. Assignments
are made by the national editorial desk and research starts immediately. Once sources for
information and quotes are identified, phone interviews are done and photo
sources assembled. A 1,500-2,000 word personality profile or feature
obituaries can usually be created in two very long days.
Two recent assignments needed some serious background
research –– one into organic chemistry and the other into the
subtleties of Parliamentary politics. Two
of my favourite assignments told the fascinating story of recently
deceased war veterans: Larry Story, shown in 1942, joined the Devil's
Brigade commandos at age 19; Murray Marshall became an RCAF pilot at
the same age.
Links: Read "The Man Who Clothed Canada: Wilfred Posluns."
Parks Canada, Gatineau
Research and write feature stories about 15 different infrastructure
projects at national parks and national historical sites that were
being funded by the government's Economic Action Plan.
Parks Canada planned to offer the finished stories to a range of
publications so the features had to be written to the standards of
Canada's best magazines. Because most of the projects were in the
planning stage, it was necessary to interview staff and "stakeholders"
to create stories that put the project plans into a historical context.
The initial stories about individual projects were so well received by
Parks communications staff that the contract was adjusted to include
more in-depth stories that dealt with multiple projects and Parks
Canada's heritage mandate.
The Project: Building Ontario’s Memory tagline, 2007
The Client: The
Archives of Ontario, Toronto, ON
Assignment: Create a
tagline that blends the Archive’s official task with its building
The tagline combines the idea of the Archives' responsibility for
preserving the province's historical documents with the concept of
building the new facility that will house the documents.
The Archives used the slogan extensively on posters, billboards,
stationery, publications and its website to promote the construction
Link: Read a letter of
appreciation from the client.
The Project: A
local history book, 2005
County of Lennox & Addington, Napanee, ON
Research and write Cultivating
the Wilderness, a history of the Loyalist Parrott family
of Ernesttown Township.
The book tells the history of Ernesttown Township through the
lives of several generations of the Parrott family who were keenly
involved in everything from the Loyalist landing and settlement in 1784
through the War of 1812 and the area's farming and business
book was published in time to serve as a key part of the opening of the
John M. Parrott Centre, a home for seniors, in Napanee and enhanced the
recognition of a million dollar gift from the Parrott Foundation.
a letter of appreciation from the client.
Student orientation scripts, 2003-2009
The Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, ON
Create a series of scripts for the museum animators who introduce
visiting students to the War Museum before they tour its exhibits.
The seven scripts are designed to give students insight into the idea
that war affects ordinary Canadians in extraordinary ways. Although the
characters the animators portray are fictional, their stories are based
on the reality of those who took part in the various war efforts that
have engaged Canadians in the past 250 years. Scripts include
portrayals of a young carpenter during the 18th Century seige of Quebec
City, a teenage munitions factory worker in 1917, an infantryman during
the 1944 liberation of the Netherlands, nurses during the First World
and Operation Desert Storm, a soldier on leave in France during the
First World War, a merchant mariner rescued from the North Atlantic in
1942, and a war correspondent covering Canada's hunt for Osama Bin
Laden in Afghanistan in 2002.
The scripts are the foundation of the War Museum's very successful and
popular education program that attracts 60,000 student
an excerpt from the Second World War script.
Text for an online historical exhibit about the display windows of the
T. Eaton Department stores, 2009
The Client: The
Archives of Ontario, Toronto, ON
Janet Uren, WordImage (Ottawa, ON)
Research and write exhibit text and photo cutlines for an exhibit that
explores the social history of the department store windows that both
reflected Canadian society and influenced the tastes and lifestyles of
Canadians for more than a century.
The exhibit was divided into three themes -- The Magnificent (displays
related to royal visits and national events), The Merry (displays
related to seasonal holidays, especially Christmas) and The Mundane
(displays of merchandise). The text offers succinct
of the 100-plus exhibit photos and provides an historical context for
End Result: The exhibit was
the Archives' most ambitious online exhibit and has proven to be one of
its most popular.
Visit the exhibit.
Visit an exhibit exploring the water-colour
artwork of Rideau Canal engineer Thomas Burrowes, circa 1830.
The Project: Reading passages for
statewide literacy testing, 1999-2003
The Client: The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Contracted by Reading Matters,
Write a series of short stories and informational articles suitable for
readers in elementary and high school which were engaging and could be
used to test reading comprehension without giving advantage to students
of any particular geographical or ethnic group.
The dozen stories were written to entertain and interest the students
who were reading them as part of statewide testing. Topics included the
hunting of buffalo in the foothills of Alberta, the refining of gold,
being lost in the woods, the diaries of a young woman during the
deportation of British loyalists in 1776, the literary
aspirations of a young Innu in Labrador, and the comical plotting of
two nosy youngsters in search of a missing cat.
The stories were well received by the state examination board which
wrote testing materials for them.
an excerpt of "Over the Falls."
The Project: A
short story about literacy issues, 2009
Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE), Ottawa,
Write a short story to encourage readers to consider issues of
literacy as part of a UNESCO education project.
The story "Deleted" describes an afternoon in the life of a young teen
who unwittingly gives up his ability to read.
The story was chosen as CODE's primary contribution to an international
collection of literacy-related writing. A video-reading was posted on
the internet, the Canadian Teachers Federation built an educational
lesson plan around it and it was used to launch a national program on
April 22, 2009 celebrating The Big Read Day. The story was read at a
Parliament Hill breakfast by students from across Canada.
Link: Read the story "Deleted."
A speech for Barenaked Lady vocalist Steven Page, 2008
National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON
Create a light-hearted dialogue for Steven Page and opera singer
Michael Schade who were the hosts of the NAC's annual Black and White
Opera Gala fundraiser for Opera Lyra and the NAC Orchestra.
The assignment came in just two days before the event. The speech had
to reflect Steven Page's comic reputation, deal with operatic
traditions and introduce each performance in a way that appealed to
opera aficionados while outlining the background of the arias for
novices. A running joke about Mr. Page not being allowed to sing ran
throughout the evening, culminating in his performance of an aria.
The evening was a financial and entertainment success. The Ottawa
Citizen described Mr. Page as an "irreverent and witty host."
excerpts of the evening's presentations.
of a speech for the Archivist of Ontario, 2007.
Magazine essays, 2001-2009
Profile Magazine, Kingston, ON
Write occasional general interest essays of interest to an adult
Topics vary widely from personal finance and housing to dogs, dating
and outdoor pursuits. They are generally humorous and told in the first
The stories are well received by the readers and editors.
excerpts from a variety of essays.
Oswald Withrow and the Kingston Penitentiary
55. Sort of...
Aimee Kennedy's Radical Little Library
Lawford, academic entrepreneur
Pat Morrow: F8 and be there
A biography of storyteller Robert Munsch, 2009
Fitzhenry and Whiteside, publisher, Toronto, ON
Research and write a 10,000-word biography on Canada's bestselling
children's author and storyteller to be marketed to the North American
Much has been written about Munsch but few writers have interviewed him
in depth. Through persistence I arranged for two
separate interviews (and, later, a third appointment to gather personal
photographs) and was able to gather insights into his childhood, his
years as a Jesuit, his work in childhood education centres at
universities in Boston and Guelph, his writing process and his family
life. The book is aimed at senior elementary students but is written to
the high standard that any biography should attain.
The book was nominated for the 2010 Silver Birch Awards sponsored by the
Ontario Library Association.
an excerpt from the manuscript.