Dorothy Livesay

I met Dorothy Livesay in 1983, in central Alberta. She was then 74 and I 35. It was at the awarding to her of Doctor of Athabasca University. As registrar of the University’s awarding party I placed the doctoral cape upon her shoulders.

Dorothy Livesay receiving her honourary doctorate from Athabasca University (I am on the right)

Dorothy Livesay receiving her honourary doctorate from Athabasca University (I am on the right)

My only other preparation was the reading of a number of her works.

When I returned to Vancouver this year I came again upon the plaque on Beach Avenue just up from English Bay Beach, of Livesay’s time in that place, where I now again live nearby. The bathhouse referred to in the plaque is immediately below, down the steps to the shore of the bay. It is a place I have known for well over a quarter of a century.

151130 Livesay Plaque.jpg

Dorothy Livesay Plaque on Beach Avenue, West End, Vancouver, Canada. 30 November 2015. (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

From English Bay Beach itself my wife once conducted kayaking lessons to the North Shore. My executive office at the Vancouver Museum looked out over the Bay. As is once more the case, for many years our West End apartment looked out over the Beach, my then museum office at Vanier Point in Kitsilano, and the vista to the Strait of Georgia of the Pacific Ocean.

151130 English Bay Beach Bathhouse.jpg

English Bay Beach bathhouse, 30 November 2015. (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

151130 English Bay.jpg

View of English Bay, from the beach bathhouse. 30 November 2015. (Photo: Hendrik Slegtenhorst)

In 2008 two of my poems, Touring with Charles, about my irretrievably lost friend from up-country Kenya, and Too Often Not a Dream, about the unexpectedness of war, and both later published in my 2013 book Caravaggio’s Dagger, were published by Winnipeg’s Contemporary Verse 2, which was founded by Dorothy Livesay in 1975.

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