Entertainment

Chicken Soup for Canada's 150th

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

Story contributor, Bradford author Patricia Miller, right, with editor Janet Matthews and the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada, at Chapters in Newmarket, on Saturday June 24, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

Story contributor, Bradford author Patricia Miller, right, with editor Janet Matthews and the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada, at Chapters in Newmarket, on Saturday June 24, 2017. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

The newest volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul is a salute to the Spirit of Canada — subtitled, “101 stories of love and gratitude.”

Author and editor Janet Matthews calls it an extraordinary book that was a year and a half in the making, exploring all aspects of life in Canada, its diversity, culture and geography, through stories that entertain and inspire.

Matthews was first introduced to Chicken Soup for the Soul in 2002, when she co-authored Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul — an instant best-seller. The new volume is her third book with CSS Publisher and co-author Amy Newmark, after 2013’s O Canada The Wonders of Winter, and Christmas in Canada in 2014.

In the old days, Matthews would receive hundreds of submissions through the mail, some hand-written. Things are easier now, with all submissions directed to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s online portal. All the same, there were about 1,000 entries for The Spirit of Canada, whittled down to 150 ‘keepers’ before Newmark helped to select the final 101 exceptional stories.

There are three stories about Syrian refugees, “Each one different,” says Matthews, and four about the Fort McMurray wildfire, including The Wedding Dress, and a powerful story by firefighter Anthony Hoffman, who continued to battle the blaze even as his own home burned.

Matthews and about a dozen of the contributing authors, including Bradford resident Patricia Miller, were at Chapters in Newmarket on June 24 for a book-signing.

Miller's  submission is a cottage story, Many Shovels, about a Canada Day flood at the family cottage in Haliburton, that could have been a disaster if not for the neighbours who pitched in. “It’s sort of a story about community ... All the neighbours came together to help,” she says, using the many shovels that had been stored under the cottage.

Miller, founder of the BWG Writer’s Circle, has other publications to her credit, including two stories in the earlier Chicken Soup books – but she has a special feeling for Many Shovels.

“Because it’s Canada and it’s the cottage, this was really special to me,” she says. “I was so excited when it was accepted.” And she could hardly wait for her next book-signing - up in Haliburton, among the very people involved in the story.

The 101 stories are by 95 contributing authors, from 11 provinces and territories – and from the U.S., six love stories to Canada from American writers.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada is distributed by Simon & Schuster Canada — the latest in a series that now has over 250 titles, and has sold over 100 million books in the 24 years since it first began.