Contact What Phil's Up To Music Poetry Home Order

Click on a book cover for information

A Short Story

It begins on June 15th, 1951, in London, England.

Shortly thereafter, the family emigrates to Ottawa December, 1951 and stays until 1961, when it returns to Liverpool, England. I come back to Ottawa on holiday, to rewrite myself, I suppose, in 1978. I find myself staying.

I arrive back in Canada with much enjoyed experience in playwriting gleaned from Cardiff National Theatre arts administration (Co-ordinator, Fylde Arts, Lancashire, 1976 -78) a teaching certificate in middle years (St. Martin’s, Lancaster, 1973-74) and an honours degree in Environmental Sciences.

Installed in a third floor apartment in Vanier, Ottawa I embark on a career of selling English. My first writing job is as a film critic for the Sunday Post of Canada (1980-82) and I work bar. I branch into magazines and am the house feature writer for Ottawa Magazine, for five years.

By 1990 I'm writing for several magazines (National Geographic Traveller; Equinox; Heritage Canada) and have landed a publishing contract with McClelland & Stewart. The book comes out in 1991 as Fields of Vision: A Journey to Canada’s Family Farms, a national bestseller. Then I publish An Acre of Time, which won the Canadian Author’s Association Lela Common Award for History, and jointly won the Ottawa Citizen Non-Fiction Award, and is made into a play which gets nominated for a Governor-General’s award, and River Song: Sailing the History of the St. Lawrence River. In August 2007, Beneath My Feet, the memoir of George Mercer Dawson, a brave little Canadian natural scientist hits the shelves.

In 1998 I join MASC, an organization that places artists in schools.

While writing Fields of Vision, I work as a co-ordinator and tutor with an adult literacy organization, People, Words & Change. Throughout the Nineties I give a series of workshops for adults and high school students with witty names such as Write On and Sounds Write, on writing creative non-fiction and song lyrics. These are with such diverse organizations as the Gloucester Arts Council, Operation Go Home (which leads to the publication of the collection StreetHearts), Chapters and the Ottawa Board of Education. I am a regular panellist on Pop Culture on CBC Ottawa television.

A commissioned book, The Library Book: An overdue history of the Ottawa Public Library is published in May, 2003. Meanwhile I write a series on interesting city rooms for the Ottawa Citizen and another commissioned book A Better Heart on the history of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is published in April, 2004.