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October Ferries gets publishing berth

March 11th, 2017

In 2005, playwright Charlotte Cameron moved from Edmonton to Gabriola Island where she soon became fascinated by Malcolm Lowry and his visit to the island.

In 1946, Malcolm Lowry and his wife Margerie took a small ferry, the Atrevida, to Gabriola Island after he had finished writing Under the Volcano. They were fearful of being evicted from their beachfront shack at Dollarton and were looking for an alternative place to live. Margerie’s friend, Angela McKee, lived on Gabriola and offered to help them find a place. Sheryl Salloum wrote about Angela Smith, and interviewed Angela’s husband, Alfred McKee, on Gabriola, as reported in her book Malcolm Lowry Vancouver Days. The Lowrys stayed at Anderson Lodge, now called Surf Lodge. He later wrote the novel October Ferry to Gabriola, published posthumously in 1970.

Charlotte Cameron at Surf Lodge, formerly Anderson Lodge.

Cameron identified with the Lowrys’ search to find a home where they could live, love and write. She invented a contemporary couple whose lives mirrored the lives of Margerie and Malcolm and juxtaposed the stories of the two couples for her play, October Ferries to Gabriola. It was first performed as a reading by four actors at The Roxy Theatre on Gabriola in 2009, followed by another reading in 2011 at the 7th Annual Poetry Gabriola Festival. In 2013, October Ferries to Gabriola was again presented as a reading at the 2013 Conference, Island Studies: West Coast & Beyond at The Haven, on Gabriola. The play will now be published as October Ferries to Gabriola (Fictive Press 2017), subtitled A Radio Play for Five Actors. $14.95. 9781927663554

“While mixing fact and fiction,” writes historian Sheryl Salloum, “Charlotte Cameron concurrently spins the wheel of time backward to 1946 and forward to the present day. In this way, she deftly highlights Malcolm and Margerie Lowry’s dream of finding sanctuary and renewal on Gabriola Island while simultaneously illuminating the plight of a similar contemporary couple. Themes such as alcoholism, angst, eviction and homelessness, guilt, hope, and love reverberate throughout this provocative drama.”

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