Local author Arline Sinclair Boyd has completed her debut novel, Tracking the Cougar, a collection of family stories, subtitled The Sinclair Family Memoirs.
“The material was about me but the writing wasn’t” by me, mother Elizabeth Kienzle Sinclair said.
The book is part biographical, chronicling the adventures of Elizabeth and husband George Sinclair, who married February 12, 1937. Much of the book’s material was gathered through discussions Boyd had with her mother, and her brother Dale, in addition to research at the B.C. Archives in Victoria, where she currently lives, and her own memories. She gathered lots from old newspapers she discovered in the archives.
“My mother is definitely a natural historian of the Prince George area,” Boyd said.
Dale was also quite useful, as he worked as a surveyor and knows the land fairly well. Discussions with Dale come across throughout the book with what Elizabeth Sinclair describes as accurate descriptions of the land.
The stories are all written in fairly exact detail, with Boyd describing things as though she were there when they happened.
“I told her the incident and she made up the stories around it … She got them pretty accurate,” Sinclair said.
Perhaps one of the most exciting stories in the book is about Elizabeth and George Sinclair’s adventure in tracking a cougar, a story that inspired the title of the book. The two were tracking a cougar that had one of George’s traps on its leg, when they were startled to look up and find the cougar up in a tree ready to pounce them.
“Dale sitting on the bridge is what scared me the most,” Elizabeth Sinclair said. Dale, Boyd’s brother and Sinclair’s son, was two at the time, and sat on the edge of a bridge with his feet dangling dangerously over the edge.
Through these stories “I wanted to validate my parents’ pioneer experiences,” Boyd said. “I wanted to collect the family stories for my grandchildren… My mother is the last of her generation of her family and holds all the stories,” and felt that this was the time to write it.
There are several photos throughout the book, gathered from old photo albums of Sinclair’s. She warns to always label photographs because years from now you might not remember who is in them.
With some of the photos “I don’t know who they are, but they are a treasure to have,” Sinclair said.
The book was self-published by Boyd through Printorium Bookworks in Victoria, a process that she found quite complex.
“It was very interesting … I learned many things,” she said.
She said it’s possible she carries these lessons learned onto a future book, though hasn’t begun planning it out yet.
She had 400 copies of Tracking the Cougar printed, which are for sale at two book stores in Victoria, and at Books and Company in Prince George. There are also copies at the Prince George, Fort St. James and Vanderhoof libraries.
Boyd and Sinclair hope to have a book signing at the Prince George Public Library at some point, though a date has not yet been set. They were also out on Saturday at the farmer’s market with the book on display.