Book tells stories of growing up in Smith Inlet

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle, May 13 2022

“The inlet is wild and remote, separated from the rest of the world by the moody Queen Charlotte herself, her floor littered with shipwrecks. There are no shops, restaurants, hospitals, cell service or Internet. At the mouth, like teeth bared to discourage entry, are rocks and rocky islets, white with the breaking of swells rolled all the way from Japan.”

This description of Smith Inlet is an excerpt from a newly released book written by Port Hardy author Gayle Goertzen-Kier entitled ‘A Boat to Take You There’.

Smith Inlet is just north of Vancouver Island, off Queen Charlotte Sound. It takes about two hours to get there in a speedboat, “more like six or seven in the traditional boats we had. More if the weather is bad. Basically you don’t want to go if the weather is bad,” says Gayle. 

A Boat to Take You There tells the story of Smith Inlet, “long avoided and bypassed by others, and the men and women strong enough to live there. First the Gwa’sala, then trappers, fishermen, cannery workers in specially created summer communities, gyppo loggers, bootleggers, and lone men running away from their fears. The mixing of peoples is illustrated by spirits and masks, mission boats and murders, schools, funerals, courage, and friendship. And in between and inside all this, there is the GMG (Goertzen Mcgill Gildersleeve) logging camp, and a girl growing up on the floats.”

Gayle explains Clyde Gildersleeve is the Gildersleeve of GMG, but he left within the first two years to go to school. Alvin Mcgill’s wife Gloria was his sister. Clyde’s son Darby lives in Port Hardy as do Alvin’s children Lance and Dennis.

“I’ve been collecting information for probably 30 years, but I started the book three years ago,” says Gayle. 

The result of her efforts is a book, dedicated to her dad Louis, that includes 67 fascinating short stories.

Part 1 of the book is the history of the inlet and its people. Part 2 describes daily life in camp.

“I felt it was a history that needed to be written and no one else was going to do it. Also, “Smith Inlet is very special to me.” 

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Photo — Submitted

Port Hardy author Gayle Goertzen-Kier has just released a book on Smith Inlet entitled ‘A Boat to Take You There’.

NVIAS Artist Series: Denise Idle of Port Alice 

 By Susan Mohler, North Island Eagle, May 13  2022

As a new arrival, “again” in the north, Denise Idle has settled quite comfortably into scenic Port Alice. Originally from Burnaby, where she was born, and Campbell River where she was raised from Grade 1 on, she began her artistic pursuits. 

Denise said of those years, “In my Campbell River days, I took watercolour painting and life drawing classes from the amazing artist Chris Wootton - followed by seven years of self-directed life drawing. My artist friend Cindy Longland and myself would hire models twice a week.” 

Denise and her husband chose to return to Port Alice in 2020 after working first in Port Alice in 1998, then Kitimat, Fort McMurray, and Edmonton. 

During these working years her art skills continued to develop, and she completed a year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Edmonton. 

“While living in Edmonton I applied and was accepted into the BFA program at the University of Alberta. I was very pleased to be given this opportunity. Art school really was a dream experience,” she went on to say, “but I realized that I already possessed the skills and the self-direction to work independently,” however she says “I fell in love with printmaking. I am very proud of the prints that I created during this time.” 

Today she continues to be experimental in her techniques and mediums and has been accessing new digital and software skills to increase her repertoire and impact. 

A software application called SMARTIST allows her to position her completed pieces in dramatic backdrops such as wilderness resorts or trendy boutique hotel lobbies or intimate cozy settings, allowing the viewer to imagine the art within a context, above a fireplace or over a couch or dresser! 

She is an enthusiastic new supporter “again” of NVIAS, the North Vancouver Island Artists Society, which was originally formed by a group including Gord Henschel and his wife Ann back in 2004. 

Already she is involved in planning and organizing several upcoming arts events for 2022 including an art show and studio tour, dates TBA. 

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Photo — Submitted

Denise Idle’s Port Alice studio is one of 19 locations featured on the newly released North Vancouver Island Art Tour map and brochure.