Showcase: Taking It Across Canada
A colourful series of books that are entertaining, educational and, best of all, allow you to be creative!
Meet an author who created an educational and fun series of Canadian travel books that help you to connect with your surroundings.
Education and learning have been incorporated into my life for the past 60 years or so. Travel and being Canadian are two additional passions near and dear to my heart. In 2015, after a futile search for Canadian-based creative gifts for my great-nieces, Tyler-ann, Dyllon and Morgyn, I had an epiphany—i could create a book especially for them about Alberta, their home province. It would take them on a fun, creative journey and they could subtly learn more about their environment.
When I think of Canadian girls, I don’t think of princesses or fairies, I think of intelligent, capable, creative, ambitious young women. I wanted a book they could relate to.
My first thought was, “How hard can this be?” My mom used to say, “If you want to, you will.” With my fresh idea in mind, I embarked on a new path of learning and discovery, for myself and for the kids. It was never my intention to take this project public, nor for it to become so large in scope. I am an introvert, and yet, here we are, taking it forward, one step at a time. Soon we formed a company, Colourful Travels Inc., and our series of books is called Sights of Canada.
The creation of these books has been a wonderful experience for me and for my partner and husband, Bill. He is my support system and cheerleader. The challenges of the print and publishing world, manoeuvring through the channels of public exposure and of direct and indirect sales have been quite the learning experience. We have met the most marvellous and helpful people. Our faith in humanity has been confirmed. After “Alberta” was completed, my new mission was to create seven activity books which would be entertaining
and educational, would allow everyone to write their own story and be creative, and would provide a keepsake of their Canadian experiences. I have two more books left to create which will complete this series—the Prairies and Quebec.
The Sights of Canada activity books take you on a journey of places, events, animals, birds and, in some cases, even insects in each region of our majestic country. To paraphrase Willie Nelson’s 1980 country classic, “On the Road Again,” you might be introduced and directed to places that you’ve never been and you’ll see things you might never see again.
The narratives that accompany the images include poetry, stories, facts about the picture and sometimes additional places to see nearby. The ideas for my sketches come from friends, places I have personally travelled to, my childhood years growing up on the farm in southern Saskatchewan, as well as from thinking about places I would like to visit in the future.
These multi-purpose books are activity books designed to allow each person, young or mature, to be artistically expressive, creative and accomplished, and to remember trips and family times while travelling. When completed, each book will make a very personal keepsake. Currently “The Prairies, Manitoba & Saskatchewan” is on the drawing board, with plans to publish before Christmas, 2018.
Each book may touch on geography, history, poetry, natural conservation, culture, flora and fauna. These fun activity books are designed for self- expression or as generational interactive books, allowing grandparents to strengthen the bond with their grandchildren and pass down their incredible stories. They may be a source of stimulat- ing conversation, of creativity or simply of calming mindfulness. The pictures can be embellished and personalized by each individual. You might want to write and record the five Ws: who, what, where, when, why and of course, how, for various images in your book. Humour makes a wonderful addition when woven into your journey. We launched the first three books and hosted a colouring methods presentation at the Kerby Centre, a seniors advocacy organization in Calgary. The books were very well received—the seniors loved chatting about the places they had travelled to or lived in, and they learned new methods of colouring and making their pictures more professional. We have also enjoyed presenting our books at home–school conferences, where they have been received with enthusiasm. Teachers have suggested the books could become resource material in the public educational system. We are working on those avenues of distribution. Recently, while presenting at the Calgary Stampede, I was asked if I would consider translating the books into another language for our Asian tourists; I am considering the idea and now doing the research. I can only imagine where that road will lead! I don’t think my bucket list will ever be complete. Around every corner, every new day, a new idea presents itself and a new discovery awaits. Retirement has rewarded me with the joy of creation. I’m extremely thankful for all the new experiences and wonderful people who have joined our team to make my epiphany a reality. I hope the rest of my retirement continues to be as rewarding and stimulating as the past several years have been. ■
Barbara’s multipurpose activity books are all about people having fun while they travel.