Posts tagged #Novel. Ile d'Or

Ile d'Or. Chapter 1. First paragraphs.

The last gold rush in Canada occurred in the Abitibi region of Quebec. By the 1940s, there were rugged mining camps scattered through the area where prospectors had staked their claims. Flying overhead at night in a small bush plane, a pilot would see lights like diamonds sprinkled in the bush. One of these villages was called Bourlamaque, after a general in Montcalm’s army.

There was a larger town connected to it, Ile d’Or, which was the commercial centre. No markers told when you left one and entered the other, but the residents near the shaft in Bourlamaque were glad to live in the log cabins that were built for the miners with Anglo money.

In the 1980s, word was that the one operating mine left in town was soon to close, that the gold was too expensive to mine, that there wasn’t enough of it any more. For a while, there was rumour of a buyer. The people of the town were worried. Some were anxious that dust and noise and the sight of an open pit would be too much for them. But there were even more who wanted the changes because of jobs the mine would continue to provide.

Michelle Dufresne was standing near her father’s grave in the cemetery on the outskirts of Ile d’Or when a man with a duffel bag slung over one shoulder walked between the tombstones toward her. She hadn’t seen him in town before, so she was startled when he waved at her.

“Hi, Michelle,” he said.

It was then she noticed that his face was somewhat familiar, but she couldn’t place it.

“You don’t know who I am, do you? I’m Nick,” he said. “Nick Petranovich. Remember those dances at the Rialto when we were teenagers?”

Her face went white. Nick Petranovich was older than her and she’d had a crush on him. It had surprised her when he’d asked her to dance and talked to her as if she were his age. But she wouldn’t have thought he’d remember that. And she hadn’t seen him since he went away to university in the 1950s. She’d heard he’d become a doctor, had a family, divorced and — she’d read his obituary just over a year earlier.

“But, but,” she stammered.

She’d thought that he would have been in his late forties by the time of the untimely news. She didn’t know if he’d been in an accident of some kind or if he’d had a heart attack. Or maybe it was cancer. The death notice didn’t specify and among the charities named for donations, none were ones that suggested anything. She backed away slightly to look at him more closely.

“The obituary in The Northern Miner,” he said, brushing his hair back with his free hand. “Yes, I can see you might be startled.” He smiled broadly.

“I don’t understand,” she said.
Posted on March 20, 2010 .