August 1913:

In residence at the Ewart Duggan Heritage House.  Built in 1887, it is the oldest brick residence in Alberta.  Lots of peace and quiet for a writer, and excellent research facilities in The Esplanade right next door and the Medicine Hat Public Library across the street.

Nice Review of The Amazing Foot Race of 1921 in the Aug/Sept edition of Canada’s History Magazine:

Following a summary, reviewer Emily Cuggy writes:  “Shirley Jean Roll Tucker provides a lively and informative account of this largely forgotten event. Rich in photos, excerpts from Halifax Herald artices and quotes from the hikers themselves, The Amazing Foot Race of 1921 is accessible and compelling for academics and general readers alike. The book not only provides a detailed account of the race, but also offers some social history. It is a true tale of adventure, chronicling the efforts of five ordinary Canadians who became national heroes during a time of change and uncertainty.”

March News: Letter From Niece of “the lone hiker” in the Amazing Race of 1921, Charlie Burkman:

“My name is Mary Ann (Burkman) ___.  Charles Burkman was my “Uncle Charlie.”  I just finished reading your book and loved it.  I have known about Charlie’s walk across Canada since I was a little girl, and several years ago I found a few articles on the internet.  I did’t know all the information you found was available and I’m thrilled that you thought the story interesting enough to do all the research. Your book will be added to the items I have collected pertaining to the race.. . .
“At some point, the family lost contact with Charlie until the early 1950s when my family [Charles younger brother, Frank was my father] moved from Port Arthur to Chicago.  My father met a guy who said he knew a [fellow] from Port Aruthur, and set up a meeting. . . . you can imagine how surprised my father was to find out that it was his brother, Charlie.  After that we enjoyed Charlie’s visits . . . I remember he was a great story teller, but I was too young to realize how special those stories were. . . .  Charles Burkman died in Chicago, Illinois in February, 1968.
. . . [A few details of Charles' life after the race were included.]  “Although sketchy, I hope this information will [help] answer the question of what happened to Charles Burkman.”

February News:

The Canadian Embassy in Berlin has received a copy of my play The Supper Waltz, and entered it in a competition to select new Canadian plays for translation and publication in the German market.  This is part of a larger cultural exchange initiative.  Results of  the competition will be released in late November 2012; fingers crossed!

The Amazing Race continues to do well with recommendations from CBC (Halifax), The Charlottetown Guardian, and January Magazine.  January says: The Amazing Foot Race of 1921 is notable for several reasons.  First: it’s a terrific story about a hiking race from Halifax to Vancouver–read that more than 3600 miles–and created Jenny Dill as the first non-Aboriginal woman to walk across Canada. Author Shirley Jean Roll Tucker, a theatre director and playwright, uses newspaper clippings, period photos and her own imagination to bring the story to life. The resulting book is an interesting hybrid of hard fact and high drama, but Tucker pulls it off nicely, telling the little known story of what one newspaper called, the Greatest Contest in the History of Pedestrianism.  A side note: in an experiment in contemporary publishing, West Coast publisher Heritage House and East Coast publisher Nimbus coordinated efforts to produce 2 separate editions under 2 distinct ISBNs with the idea of pooling resources and mining the best parts of their own markets.

January Events:

January 27-29 I attended a screen writing workshop in Kelowna with Keith Digby and Brian Paisley. Paisley will assist in writing a 5 part hisorical drama for submission to the C.B.C.

November Events:

The November edition of the Literary Review of Canada included a full page review of The Amazing Foot Race by James Roots who concluded by saying: “Their indomitable courage and determination, and their boisterous spirits that rarely seemed to flag, make these five ordinary Canadians every bit as worthy of our admiration as Terry Fox.  Shirley Jean Tucker has done us a commendable service in reviving their memory.”

Thursday November 17, I made a presentation to the Shuswap Probus Club.  When Dr Ken Kolkind asked for the talk a month ago, he suggested that members might like to hear about the research that went into writing The Amazing Footrace of 1921, but as I organised my thoughts for the presentation, I realised that several members of the group (more than 50 turned out for the talk) had seen some of my plays, so I threw two of them: “Ratz and Alma,” and “The Supper Waltz” into the mix.  I have written a little bit about this topic on the “BLOG” page.

September Events:

Tuesday September 27:  FUT in the Hat, a Medicine Hat, Alberta community theatre company presented a “readers’ theatre” version of my play: The Supper Waltz. Friday September 30:  As a part of the “Culture Days” celebration (a national event Sept 30 – Oct 2), I gave a reading from The Supper Waltz, sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada, at the Public Library in Medicine Hat.  Click on the link below for poster and details.     The play is set in Southern Alberta (see “PLAYS” page for a syopsis), and my reading for about 30 people and the beautiful new Library theatre was enhanced by actors reading excerpts.  Poster Med Hat reading The photo at right of Shirley introducing The Supper Waltz along with Karen Cunningham, producer, and the cast of FUT in the Hat was supplied by head librarian Hillary Munro.

Sunday September 25:  The 17th annual “Word on the Street” festival celebrating the written word and promoting literacy was held  in Vancouver and other Canadian cities.  (   This was a really exciting event with more than a dozen tents set up for readers, as well as exhibitors’ tents, an entertainment mainstage and demonstrations and workshops inside the library..

I talked about The Amazing Footrace of 1921, but had to almost shout for the last few minutes as rising winds threatened to sail away the tent (as it did in fact with at least one venue).

A surprise bonus appeared in the person of Vancouver children’s author, Darlene Foster who was a fondly remembered grade 3 student from my very first year of teaching.  Her lovely blog (with pictures) can be seen here:
Here is a notice (ad) that was placed in The Word on the Street catalogue by Heritage House!

July 9 A very successful book reading/signing at the Chase BC Museum and Archives organized by Joan Anderson.  The Halifax Herald had reported in 1921 that the Dills had stopped in Chase, where Frank had his boots repaired.  The curator of the museum discovered the signature of “Mr and Mrs Frank Dill” in the register of the Underwood Hotel.  They were, added Frank, travelling “from Halifax to Vancouver by foot.” What a spendid find.  With permission we took photocopies of the register and a photo of the old Hotel that hung on the museum wall.  A good thing we did, because during the night a fire tore through the building ravaging the archives,  I am going to post some thoughts about that tragic event on the blog page shortly.

Chase Museum July 9

Chase Museum July 12

July 5

Erik Thompson of CFAX conducted a radio interview reviewing the Amazing Race for “On the Island.  Feedback is that Erik did a great job!

June 18

Ian Fairclough (Halifax) interviewed me for a Sunday book review of the Amazing Foot Race of 1921 in the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Karen Cunningham announced that FUT IN THE HAT will be in rehearsal this fall, and that if things go as planned THE SUPPER WALTZ (workshopped November 2010 by Eugene Stickland, will hit the boards in Medicine Hat April 2012.  The play, a growing hot property, is competing for a place in the W.P.I. (9th Annual Women’s Plays International).  The conference takes place in Stockholm, Sweden, August 15-21m 2012.  Any woman member of PGC can join WPI and enter a script.
So much happening . . .

June 11

June 11 was a day of signing at Bookingham Palace bookstore in Salmon Arm.  The handsome bookmarks were a great success, and I soon ran out of the paper weight railroad spikes.

June 8

Following Salmon Arm Observer journalist Barb Brouwer’s book review, I received a very surprising e-mail from JENNY DILL’S daughter, Grace Hunt.  I knew that Frank and Jenny had no children and that Frank had died of tuberculosis in 1928, seven years after the transcontinental foot race, and that Jenny had remarried.  What I didn’t know when I wrote the book, was that Jenny married Thomas Tarbox sometime in 1929, and they had a daughter, Grace.  Sadly Jenny Tarbox died in 1941 from diptheria.  Where was this information when I could have used it?  Among the other things that I have learned since discovering Jenny’s daughter is that she has several children of her own.  Jan, the eldest daughter and her husband put together a lovely scrapbook that Jenny had planned to do.  The family graciously forwarded a copy of it to me . . .. More information will follow when I think of a suitable way to celebrate the lovely Grace Hunt.

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”  — L.M. Montgomery

–On June 8, Barb Brouwer, Salmon Arm journalist, wrote a full page review of The Amazing Foot Race of 1921 for the Observer.  You can read it here:

–On June 19, Ian Fairclough interviewed me for an article and a review of the book in the Halifax Chronicle, and that article can be read here:

“The end of Spring–the poet is brooding about editors.”

So what is to brood about?  What next?  So far I know that I have:
–  July 9 a gala book signing lined up at the Chase Museum.
–  Date TBA: A reading at the Medicine Hat Library,
–September 25: An appearance at the fun annual festuval: “The Word on the Street” in Library Square, Vancouver.

May 28

I was able to do three readings in May arranged by Heritage House in Victoria and the Federation of BC Writers in Vancouver:     

May 10:  Read at the Fort Cafe in Victoria with Barbara Smith (The Mad Trapper) and Cathy Converse (Following the Curve of Time).  The event was promoted as “Adventurous Journeys: Three authors discuss the lives and travels of remarkable Canadians from the past and how they shaped the present.”

May 12:  Signed books along with Rosemay Neering (The Pig War) at the well-attended official opening of new location of the Crown Bookstore formerly Queen’s Printer in Victoria.

May 12 (later):  Read with 7 other writers at the “open mike” portion of the Federation of BC Writers AGM in Vancouver.

April 15


(March 30, 2011) Heritage House Publishing announces the release of The Amazing Foot Race of 1921: Halifax to Vancouver in 134 Days by Shirley Jean Roll Tucker.

What began as a pledge from a local musician–to hike the 4000 miles from Halifax to Vancouver in seven months–was quickly taken up as a challenge by other Haligonians.  With the Halifax Herald receiving exclusive reports from the hikers, it wasn’t long before other newspapers picked up the story.  Soon the entire nation was caught up in the daily drama of the five contestants, who drew big crowds wherever they settled for the night or shared a meal with locals.  The hike had become Canada’s amazing race, a welcome antidote to a bleak economy, high unemployment and a nation still healing from the scars of war.    The Amazing Foot Race is an engaging story of personal endurance and a social history of postwar Canada, a country in the midst of fundamental change.  Although briefly discussed in Pierre Perton’s classic book: My Country, this incredible story has never been fully told until now.

To arrange interviews or to obtain review copies, please contact:

Neil Wedin
Heritage House
t: 250.360.0829

Neil notes that the publishers’ reps are on the road stocking bookstores, tourist centres etc. with most orders expected in May.  Chapters has taken about 300 copies to date . . . we have shipped 25 copies to public libraries.  It is nice to see that BC Ferries will be carrying the book for the Summer season, and we have also put the book on the “Adventurous Lives” book marks that go with the sale of any book on the Ferry.

The book is in shops throughout Victoria and Calgary, and will be represented in places like Hope and Revelstoke . . . the list is long with most stores taking 2 or 3 copies, which is normal for this time of year.  I have sent review copies to many places: Medicine Hat, Vancouver, Salmon Arm among them.  I am also hoping to get you on CBC either from Victoria or Salmon Arm.  Nimbus will take care of the East from a distribution centre near Toronto.


In a recent edition of Postscripts, the very attractive quarterly magazine of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association, an article appeared inviting retirees to try writing their memoirs as a “hobby.”  Like many of my colleagues, I’ve never thought of myself as a “retired” person persuing a “hobby,” but as a professional with a chance at a second career.  So I wrote, and the magazine gaciously published, the following:

I enjoyed reading Sylvia Olson’s article: “Looking For A Hobby?” in the Winter 2010 Postscript.  Many retired teachers however, regard second careers as serious opportunities to challenge their talents and experiences.I As an active Canadian playwright and writer with a strong interest in the social and political history of Canada, my work reflects unique regional characteristics.  I would be delighted to do readings from my work for retired teacher organizations funded by Playwrights Guild of Canada or Canada Council.  I also have a non-fiction book: The Amazing Race of 1921, published by Heritage House and Nimbus Press.  Perhaps a RT organization would prefer a reading about the first competetive foot race across Canada.

Shirley Jean Tucker, Shuswap RTA

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