A Port Alberni writer has compiled a book full of childhood memories to raise funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society.
Diane Dobson published Through the Eyes of a Child: A Collection of Childhood Memories in early November. The book is a collection of childhood memories from 14 different storytellers, including Dobson herself.
Dobson, a former life writer, started the project two years ago with the goal of giving back to the community. With the AV Hospice Society in “dire straits” due to COVID-19, Dobson will be donating all proceeds from the book to the Hospice Society and Ty Watson House.
“My favourite part of each person’s life story was their childhood memories,” said Dobson. “So I decided to focus in on that.”
Dobson dedicated the book to her grandsons, with the hope that their generation—and the generations to follow—can gain an understanding and an appreciation for what came before them.
“I wanted them to understand how it was, growing up in those days,” Dobson said.
The book opens with Dobson’s own childhood memories. Dobson also interviewed 13 other storytellers, then transcribed their words verbatim. In selecting her subjects for the book, Dobson said she reached out to a wide range of people with different backgrounds. Not all of the storytellers are from Port Alberni.
“My main concern was that the stories were real,” said Dobson.
Many of the stories come from the era of the Great Depression or the World Wars. She spoke to two residential school survivors in Port Alberni, as well as Bud Madokoro—a Japanese-Canadian man who was interned during the Second World War.
Despite the hard times, said Dobson, the writers all have happy memories from their childhoods.
“People were very forthcoming with their memories,” said Dobson. “They remember the bad times, but they also remember the good times. It was tough, but I think they’re tougher for it.”
Former North Island College instructor Derek Hanebury provided copyediting free of charge, while Myrna Clark of Black Press Media provided formatting work, also free of charge.
“I paid for the production,” said Dobson. “So every penny is able to go to Hospice, which is really rewarding.”
Books are available for $15 at the Alberni Valley Hospice Society (2759 10th Avenue), but Dobson warned that they have been “selling like hotcakes” and will be sold out soon. She isn’t sure yet if there will be a second run.
Dobson said writing the book was a rewarding experience.
“It was a nice project,” she said. “I learned a lot from people about the tough times they had. Right now I don’t have any other projects planned,” she added with a laugh.