Crossings

Main_street_in_fog
From Granta:

I was standing in front of our old house: 168 Atomic Drive, Uranium City. The street numbers just visible next to what remained of the front door. Up close, our house didn’t seem so ominous, not like the day before when I’d stood on top of the hill across the street and had the sense of being actively

Uranium City Return, Back to Edmonton

published in Urban Graffiti, December, 2011

Jasper Avenue, Edmonton AlbertaI hadn’t been back to Edmonton in nearly 20 years, not since I’d passed through with my parents at age 15 on my way back to Vancouver. I took the airport shuttle downtown to the bus station then checked in at the Grand Hotel across the street. The hotel looked rundown, but the wooden awning out front and the cowboy bar on the ground floor lent it a frontier feel, made it an apt jumping off point for the journey that would take me to Fort McMurra

Uranium City Return – An Excerpt

Published in Sensitive Skin Magazine, Fall 2011

At the end of the road, an airstrip appears, as unexpected as a landing pad for aliens. Instinctively, I look for the Eldorado Mine and the company town of Eldorado that stretched around the lake behind the airstrip and am startled to find nothing but hills and trees and a muddy black field. The plane lands and pulls to a stop on the edge of the tarmac. No one is there to greet us and we get out of the plane and wait. Behind the airstrip are the familiar hills – as rounded and smooth as hills on a golf course, and covered with pine, spruce and budding poplar – so familiar that I listen instinctively for the old rhythms and sounds. Though neither town nor mill were ever visible from the airstrip I can already sense the difference; knowing that I can cross these hills and see only more hills and more lakes makes the silence heavy and oppressive. For a moment it feels like we have shifted dimensions and landed in another time,

Finding Myself on the Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle, in Sunshine

I moved onto the Heygate Estate in the fall of 2007, after answering an ad in Loot. Twenty years before, when I’d lived in a squat in one of the warren-like brick estates across the New Kent Road, I’d look up at the prison-like terraces of the Heygate, and wonder, “who the hell would live in a place like that?”
Now, I was about to find

Going back home to Uranium City

main street, Uranium City, Saskatchewan

 

The vehicles began streaming in on Friday morning and by late afternoon almost 600 people had arrived at the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park for the 2001 Uranium City Reunion.
Almost 20 years had passed since Eldorado Nuclear announced the closure of its Beaverlodge Mine, which led to Uranium City losing over 80 percent of i

Notes from the Cut-Block

Tree-planters, British Columbia

 

A truck horn goes off in the cold pre-dawn, pulling you awake into the gloom of your tent. Limbs and head and back ache with days and weeks and months of imcomparable fatigue and it seems easier to just lie there and let the rest of the crew go to work without you. But you get up anyway, pulling on clothes made damp by the night air, and stumble outside. In the cookshack dozens of other people are huddled around bare wooden tables, making lunch, eating breakfast, talking. Music blares from the kitchen – often but not always Bob Marley, Dire Straits, or the Talking Heads. You make lunch, the cook makes you breakfast, y