Blog #24: Wallace Stegner, Sharon Butala, and Eastend

Wallace Stegner, Sharon Butala, and Eastend.

Wonderful news! This morning I got an email from Ethel Wills. She was writing on behalf of the Stegner House Committee to offer me a residency at the Wallace Stegner House, Eastend, from Sept 2 to Sept 22, 2012. A dream come true.

I almost feel as if I conjured the dream into reality. Other than “Letter, Much Too Late,” I haven’t read any Stegner in some time, but last night just before going to bed I read his essay, “Finding the Place: A Migrant Childhood.” The essay contains a footnote, a footnote which reads as follows:

In the 1980s that house, now billed as one of the oldest houses in Saskatchewan, was bought by the local arts council under the leadership of Canadian writer Sharon Butala. Refurbished, repainted, and reroofed, it is being made into a refuge for writers who need a few months of total peace and quiet for finishing their books. I intend to haunt that house, just to keep track of what goes on.

I’m looking forward to conversations with Wallace’s ghost. I’m looking forward to exploring the Cypress Hills. I’m looking forward, as well, to seeing the site of the old Stegner homestead. My friend and mentor Stuart Houston visited the homestead on July 9, 1983, and he will provide me with the coordinates.

I also intend to visit the Old Man on his Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area. I met Sharon Butala some years ago, when her son Sean was a tenant in the apartment building I manage, and to think that I will be able to walk through the landscape of The Perfection of Morning, as well as the landscape of Wolf Willow, fills me with delight. There will be so much to marvel at, I wonder how I will find time to write.

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