Local nurse Melodie Hull, already having written six nursing and health textbooks, has now ventured into literature.
Hull’s latest book, “Jollyboy And Other Tales From The Peace,” newly published, is a collection of stories from the Peace Country, specifically from around Rolla, a small historic farming community near Dawson Creek. The stories are set in the early days of Rolla, and were recounted to Melodie by her father, Raymond Hull.
“I made a promise to my Dad, who was a great storyteller, that I would try to publish some of his stories. He had a million of them, but I only took ones from Rolla.”
Raymond Hull was born in 1928, on his father’s quarter-section near Rolla, on the prairie of the Peace Country in northern B.C. Raymond’s father was a First World War veteran, who had been wounded at Passchendaele. Upon his return to Canada, he became what was then known as a Dominion Ranger in northern B.C., before settling down to farm.
“Stories abound about what he saw in the woods [as a ranger],” Melodie said of her grandfather. “Outlaws, lost prospectors from the Klondike days, people who had died in their cabins over winter, and a whole host of characters.”
Some of Melodie’s grandfather’s stories, as related by Raymond, are included in the collection, which is divided into sections. Other sections deal with the community of Rolla, and the Peace Country; horse stories (including the story of Jollyboy, Raymond’s horse); tales from the one-room school house; bear stories; and stories about the colourful and eccentric characters that populated the district.
“My father was a prolific storyteller, and I talked to him when he was passing away,” Melodie said. “I was able to discuss the make-up of the book with him while he was dying.
“I wrote the book to honour my father, and the legacy of those people who came before us. It was a hard life, but it was rich and rewarding in its own right.”
Raymond Hull moved away from Rolla just as they were building the Alaska Highway, Melodie said. The family moved to Cranbrook in the 1960s.
The collection of stories in “Jollyboy” illustrates the region at a specific time in our history, the early Canadiana of the first part of the 20th century, a colorful and distinct rural culture that doesn’t exist anymore, but would be recognizable today to rural people anywhere in Canada.
Hull spent a year organizing and writing the book. “Jollyboy And Other Tales From The Peace” is available as an e-book or paperback via Amazon.