Happy July, this summer is flying by really fast!
I spent most of July on the road, traveling across the western part of Canada, the trip was about 10,000 kms by the time we got back home to our slice of heaven in the central western part of Ontario. It was just the DH and I this time, our kids stayed home with one of their aunts and our dog.
Since COVID, I have been amassing a lot of author copies and I was running out of room. I don’t plan on doing any signings this year, so I had to do something and I thought about the Free Little Libraries that were scattered all over the old city I used to live. I knew they were in other places, so I found a free app called Little Free Library.
I got the brilliant idea to drop off author copies as I make my way across across to Alberta and then do a reading of A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family in Jasper where it’s set. My videos and reading are on Tik Tok under Amy Ruttan (I refer to myself as a reluctant farmer!).
I signed the books ahead of time and marked them with a Canadian author sticker. I took my debut book from 2013 Safe in His Hands and dropped it by the closest Little Library to our farm in Seaforth, Ontario.
The next Little Library came at 8 in the morning after an eight hour drive. Yep, an eight hour drive, we left shortly after midnight, to get around Lake Superior from our house, it takes about 17 hours.
The Little Library I stopped in was in Bruce Mines, Ontario and after my visit there I woke up the next day in Thunder Bay to discover I had made their news! They were thankful for the book and encouraging others to donate to their Little Library.
The next day, we left Thunder Bay and were heading for Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Another 17 hour day. It takes two days to drive out of my province! First I stopped in Kenora, Ontario and dropped a book at Little Library outside a woman’s shelter. It was packed full and well used!
We had to cross Manitoba and most of Saskatchewan to get to Saskatoon. I had never been to Saskatoon, but it’s very bizarre to be watching for a city on a flat prairie horizon and not see it until you go down into a river valley. Saskatoon is beautiful and I found a gorgeous little library in a tree lined neighborhood know as Caswell Hill.
It’s not far to Alberta and we had a couple days to ourselves and headed to Drumheller, which is the badlands in southern, Alberta. Drumheller had an amazing Little Library with Moby Dick and Lord of the Rings quotes painted on it. After Drumheller we made our way to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump and I left a couple more books in towns like High River (where they film the TV show Heartland) and an author friend Taryn Leigh Taylor left copies in her home town and a town near her.
After some days with my other sister in law at her ranch. We went into Jasper, Alberta the setting for A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family and I did a reading at Medicine Lake. Forest Fires have devastated the area. The last time I was there, Medicine Lake was lush with trees…now, just the ghostly remnants of them remain. It is a natural cycle to a forest though. And even though it had changed, I was still privileged to see elk, big horn sheep, wolf, black bear and my first time seeing a Grizzly Mama and her 3 cubs!
The nearest little library to Jasper, is Hinton, Alberta. And the caretaker there originally is from the town where I currently live. So that was a small world experience. I left a copy of A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family there.
After our time in Alberta, we made our way to Winnipeg on a day that Canada had a nation wide cell phone outage on the network I used. It also knocked out all Interac purchases. I was very glad we had our credit cards and cash. I was also glad our GPS in our Jeep was still functioning or we would’ve never made our way from Alberta, through Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I got to meet an author friend Elle Rush for lunch and visit the monument of Louis Riel. My ancestors were Metis, which is a mix of European settlers and Indigenous. Metis people are an Indigenous nation and have their own culture. Louis Riel is a founding father who fought for the rights of Metis, he was an elected politician and led resistance movements before he was hanged for treason.
As someone of Metis background, this has been a life long dream to visit his monument. My father, had to hide who he was for many years, to avoid residential school. For him and me, it’s been hard to try and process our loss of identity. Also to find ancestors, but I have been finding more and more names. Women, who were indigenous, often lost their identity when they married a white man.
I left a book in Winnipeg and we made our way back to Ontario and stopped in Thunder Bay. I am really getting to know Thunder Bay. My daughter goes to school there, so I make the drive often.
Thunder Bay is the lake head of Lake Superior. The last place Terry Fox stopped after his Miracle Run for Cancer because his cancer had returned and he collapsed, but one of the Little Libraries surprised me! It was on Ruttan street. Ruttan is my maiden name, so I looked up the history and discovered that Ruttan’s helped with the development of Port Arthur and Thunder Bay.
So of course I had to leave a book there!
And that was just a part of our trip. I dropped books off in Sault and Sudbury on the way home. I have way more pictures and a lot more special memories, but it was so good to get back to the kids.
I took a whole box of books and left them all on my journey.
If you happen to stumble on a Little Library I encourage you to donate or even just take a book too. Spread Literacy and help communities. I learned so much from this experience and fell in love with my country all over again.
It’s why I continue to write books set in the place I love the most. Canada.
Here’s a slideshow of some more pics along the way!