94-year-old Betty Annand has just published her fourth full-length novel in the past four years. Photo by Terry Farrell

94-year-old Betty Annand has just published her fourth full-length novel in the past four years. Photo by Terry Farrell

94-year-old Courtenay author pens fourth novel in four years

In 2017, Betty Annand celebrated her 90th birthday with the launch of her first full-length novel. The Girl From Old Nichol was the first book of the Gladys Tunner trilogy.

In 2018, The Woman from Dover was published and in 2019, Annand completed that trilogy, with The Lady from New York.

At that time, Annand said she was working on a new book, but said she didn’t know if she would “ever get around to publishing it.”

Annand’s fans will be delighted to know that she did, indeed “get around to publishing it,” and a book launch for Canada, By Jove, is set for Oct. 30 at the Florence Filberg Centre.

The new book chronicles the adventures of two Englishmen emigrating to Canada in the early 1900s. There is a link to the Tunner series, as the men are Gladys Tunner’s grandsons.

“She is mentioned at the opening of the story, but if you didn’t read those first three books, it wouldn’t make any difference,” said Annand. “There’s no connection you really have to follow there.”

There is a greater link to Annand. Bert is her father.

The book is historical fiction. It follows Bert and Ernie White (Annand’s maiden name) as they travel across Canada.

“It’s based on stories my father told me about coming to Canada,” said Annand. “He came with his brother, so the names Bert and Ernie are right, but of course I have embellished all the stories, because I don’t know what happened. But most of the stories in it are based on what he said. He was very eccentric, and very daring, and he had no use for money.”

All the cities and towns in the book are authentic, except for the town of Glory.

“That town I made up, and a lot happens in Glory,” said Annand. “I did a lot of research on the other (municipalities) and that was fun. Things about Montreal and that… they came out and got a job building a new wharf in a place called Maisonneuve… They were both machinists – very good machinists. They could do things other people could not do.”

Eventually, Bert ends up in Calgary, where he meets Nell. They marry and ultimately move to the West Coast. The book describes the four-month journey to Vancouver, via Radium, Fairmont and Cranbrook, and all the excitement and dangers they encounter along the way.

The Evergreen Club will be hosting a book launch at the Filberg Centre (411 Anderton Ave., Courtenay). Due to COVID restrictions, the launch will be limited to 50 people, so an RSVP is requested. Proof of vaccination, and masks, will be required to attend the event. To RSVP, email info@evergreenclub.ca or call Annand at 250-334-3063.

As an added bonus, Annand’s band the Lost Chords will be performing (yes, at 94, she plays in a band).

“My arthritis has gotten so bad I can no longer play the ukelele, so I play the drums now,” said Annand. “I can still hold onto the sticks and I have very good (rhythm) so I can drum with the best of them. But I never had lessons. So if this pandemic ever ends, I am going to take proper drum lessons.”

As for her writing future, Annand says she’s not quite done yet.

“I’m on my fifth one now,” she said, before teasing her readers with a bit of a preview. “You’re only supposed to write about what you know, and I never have. This next book will be the first one I know about, and that’s because it’s about an old lady, and I certainly know about that.”

authorComox Valley