Sunday, April 19, 2015

Daniel Marchildon

The people who keep telling me that books are dead and that no-one reads anymore should have been at the Salon du livre de l'Outaouais at the end of February.

I could have used their help.

A couple of tough guys would have come in handy as I fought my way through hundreds of bibliophiliac kids and adults at the Palais des congrès in Gatineau.

There were dozens of French-language publishers, thousands of books on display, and many, many writers, among them my friend Daniel Marchildon.

Daniel and I met in Stanton Residence at the University of Ottawa in 1977. We were both in Lettres Françaises, though I don't believe we ever had any classes in common. Daniel was part of the Franco-Ontarian gang of friends that I clung to and tried to emulate. He was there for my first few steps in Real French: ex. "Hé, watch-toé là!" as someone was about to be run down on Laurier Avenue.

Daniel told everyone who would listen in 1977 that he was going to be a writer. He has been a role model for me (and probably many others) over the years because he never faltered in that determination. Almost 40 years later, he is the author of several novels, screenplays, books for children and young adults, and non-fiction. He has made a career of literature, and while the pay may not be great, he is now a prominent figure in Franco-Ontarian letters.

Daniel's latest book is Zazette, la chatte des Ouendats, the story of the first cat to be introduced to the Wendat First Nation (who had previously known only dogs) by the French.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Daniel and his wife Micheline -- also a writer -- after the Salon du livre. We talked a little about the book business and about the Brûlé-Wendat Expedition. A veteran of numerous historical re-enactments, Daniel is already booked to appear as Champlain twice this summer. He may also take part in the canoe segment of the Brûlé-Wendat event in September.

Daniel is the subject of a recent Carte de visite documentary on TFO  -- 26 minutes and 49 seconds of Daniel on literature and history! It's great to see Daniel getting more and more attention, and I wish him and Micheline all the best.

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