She does not pull a rabbit out of a hat or cut somebody in half, but Dawn Morgan still makes magic. She says it happens in her kitchen. “I just touch it and it goes.” It is a simple list of ingredients, including local fruit and a little sugar, which she uses to make award-winning homemade pies.
Dawn sets up her stage along the 700-block of Craigflower in Vic West. Her audience is its traffic. Her first trick is making the drivers pull over and pick up a pie. “I just put them down and the people just come”.
The locals simply call her The Pie Lady. When the cameraman and I first spotted her, Morgan was wearing pink from head to toe, from her Crocs to her rose-coloured glasses. She always holds her unconventional magic wand, a fluorescent pink double-sided sign that says, ‘hot pies’. When she waves it, her products disappear. “Last weekend I sold 15 pies in 15 minutes,” she says.
The Pie Lady’s most beloved trick involves turning her simple ingredients into time machines. “It just takes them back to childhood. They say ‘I haven’t had a pie like that since my grandma made one.’ My landlord phoned me up after I made him a pie and he was in tears and says, ‘I haven’t had a pie like that since my mom died.’”
Morgan started making magic at the age of eight after her dad died. She and her six older siblings had to move to another house that was surrounded by apple trees. “There’s a lot of sorrow. People are looking for something to make them happy,” Morgan says.
Morgan learned to conjure comfort for her audience, but couldn’t cast it on herself. She says she was “saved” by somebody else, her 10-year-old son Davaniel. “He gave me a new lease on life, because I was living a pretty reckless life back then.”
Perhaps The Pie Lady’s most impressive feat of all is how she transformed her life.
Despite being on disability because of the relentless pain of arthritis, she has found a creative solution to the challenge of providing for herself and her son.
A car honks as it passes, followed by two more. Dawn waves back. The honks are no doubt applause for The Pie Lady, whose magic is homemade.
Adam Sawatsky is co-host of CTV News Vancouver Island at Five. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.