Writer Daniel Wood’s latest anthology delivers goofy and wild BC stories

Tales of BC is a posthumous collection from an award-winning, entertaining writer.

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It only took two hours for Daniel Wood to make Charles Montgomery a better writer.

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In a recent interview, Montgomery said that back when “Alanis Morissette was big,” the multi-award-winning magazine writer Wood — understatement alert — gave a talk to Langara’s journalism class in which Montgomery was enrolled.

“He was already considered a god among long-running non-fiction writers at the time,” said Montgomery, the Vancouver author of the bestselling Wood book titled Happy Cities.

“We wanted to know what the secret sauce was. What shocked me was that Daniel was able to offer us some sort of recipe or an architecture for good storytelling.

Montgomery explained that Wood, who also taught at UBC and SFU, drew diagrams on the class board to illustrate how great stories, like great buildings, depend on engineering and building. architecture.

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Montgomery has used this approach ever since.

Vancouver writer Charles Montgomery says the late, award-winning magazine writer Daniel Wood offered invaluable writing advice to a much younger Montgomery and other journalism students.  Photo credit: Nick Procaylo, PNG
Vancouver writer Charles Montgomery says the late, award-winning magazine writer Daniel Wood offered invaluable writing advice to a much younger Montgomery and other journalism students. Photo credit: Nick Procaylo, PNG Photo by Nick Procaylo /PNG

Wood’s successful execution is on display in the anthology of his work, Tales of BC The 28-story collection dates from a 1989 WEST magazine article about Ogopogo, aka “Canada’s First Unidentified Swimming Object,” and ends with his story from last spring in BC Magazine.

“It’s a story about courage, imagination and risk, and how four adventurous women – bound by strange circumstances – rose to the challenge of surviving in the mountains of British Columbia,” this latest Gold story begins. Bridge and BC’s Last One-Room School.

“He was present at many pivotal moments in British Columbia’s history,” said Dale Miller, who edited this anthology and served as Wood’s editor at British Columbia Magazine for nearly a decade. . “He was just there and documenting this.”

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Wood died of leukemia in September at the age of 78.

Daniel Wood's Tales of BC is a collection of the late author's favorite magazine articles from decades of writing about British Columbia and its people.  Photo credit: Courtesy of OP Media Group
Daniel Wood’s Tales of BC is a collection of the late author’s favorite magazine articles from decades of writing about British Columbia and its people. Photo credit: Courtesy of OP Media Group Photo by Photo Credit: Courtesy of Da /PNG

The wood did not originally come from these regions. He grew to love British Columbia after the Vietnam War drove him from his home in Boston in 1969.

“He wasn’t called a draft dodger but rather a draft draft dodger,” Wood’s partner since 1997, Crisanta Sampang, said.

Even after the proclamation of the US government’s Granting Pardon for Violations of the Selective Service Act in 1977, Wood did not move from his life in British Columbia.

“Stuck here on the jagged edge of North America, dreamers, idealists, Marxists, utopian hippie surfers (and everyone else) searched – in the province’s myriad of isolated valleys and coastal islands – a place to embrace their hopes. People chasing their hopes and dreams, I have come to understand, have stories to tell,” Wood writes in the foreword to Tales of BC.

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“He loved it here,” Sampang said. “He liked the place and he liked the people. What he found was a place that was so interesting to him and so different from America.

As a member of the Explorer’s Club, Wood traveled the world writing stories, but he truly loved and cared about this province, as evidenced by the wide range of topics covered in Tales of BC.

Open the book and you’re transported to deadly avalanche sites; gave a history lesson of the potters’ pioneers; fairing through fields and trees in a faulty hot-air balloon; teetering atop a horse on a canyon cliff; hang out with Elvis impersonators and dig for dinosaurs.

Off the beaten track was Wood’s pace.

“He was really documenting the human experience. It uncovers people’s dreams, ideas and thoughts,” Miller said. “It’s just a cool way to write. Frankly, no one else does.

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Wood’s pieces are deeply researched — which Miller said was often the case just for the pitches — and loaded with character, charm and, in some cases, tension.

“It swings wildly between narrative and in-depth research and facts. But you never have time to get bored with research because the moment you become fascinated by a historical tidbit or a piece of science, it grabs you by the wrist and pulls you back into the adventure,” Montgomery said. .

The idea to edit Tales of BC was born when Wood had only a few months to live. He reached out to Miller and canceled future stories, except for this wonderful look at BC’s last one-room schoolhouse.

“He wanted to pay tribute or a thank you to the province,” Miller said of Tales of BC

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While the book is certainly a legacy, the students he touched with his recipe and his willingness to dig deeper are further proof of the positive mark Wood left on the world he so valiantly covered.

“Daniel wrote his way of life, balancing facts, humor and wisdom. Because of his boundless curiosity, he wrote a wide range of stories,” said Therese Bagshaw, a former SFU writing student. (1995/96) at Wood’s “Because of him, I have embraced this curiosity and willingness to write about anything, and I try to achieve the same balance of facts, humor and wisdom in what I write .”

Bagshaw, a children’s book author and working on a memoir, calls Points Roberts home and recalls being smitten by the star when she met Wood, who became her mentor and friend.

Therese Bagshaw and Daniel Wood first met in the mid-1990s. Bagshaw said the late, award-winning magazine writer wrote his way of life, balancing facts, humor and wisdom.  Photo credit: Cradoc Bagshaw
Therese Bagshaw and Daniel Wood first met in the mid-1990s. Bagshaw said the late, award-winning magazine writer wrote his way of life, balancing facts, humor and wisdom. Photo credit: Cradoc Bagshaw Photo by Cradoc Bagshaw /PNG

“In addition to learning how to structure a story, Daniel taught me to focus on the small details that make a story unique to you,” Bagshaw said.

“He lived an extraordinary life and left his words like breadcrumbs to help us find our way through a life worth writing about. His friendship was woven into my life story and his laughter, his sheer joy and excitement of just being alive and being able to do the job he loved the most – writing stories will be missed.

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