Local writer Ann Marie Burns has gone from researching her family tree to uncovering forgotten stories of Vancouver Island’s past.
Her website, Papertown Station, started as a Facebook page in 2018 and grew steadily as she added a website to post short stories about locals, places and forgotten stories. . Since she started, she has written over 300 short stories.
Reading old documents to verify her family history pointed her to a number of interesting local stories. After spending time volunteering in local classrooms and helping a few friends create their own website, Burns decided to develop his own site.
“I started blogging when the internet was born…before blogging even had a name. telling me stories about Scotland to distract me from the pain. His stories were fascinating. I started writing them down and spent the next 20 years researching my family tree. Surprisingly, this research led me to my own back door here in British Columbia.
Some of the favorite stories she’s covered span a wide range of topics, from Farsons to Alice the Albino Whale to Martin Mars’ Water Bombers.
“We spent summers on Sproat Lake swimming as the Martin Mars started its engines in the distance and took off from the water as we swam. It was a story that compelled me and that I was looking for, but did not come across.
She says the province’s local newspapers and online archives are some of the best she has come across in her years of research.
“We’re lucky that way, especially if you’re the type to do your own research and dig like me.”
Burns said she was sad to see the Royal BC Museum closing its doors, “although there is always room for greater truths to be told.”
Burns views the effort more as a writing project than historical research. Papertown Station is a way to work on her storytelling before she starts writing local history books – she plans to write six books, when time and money allow.