Surrounded by friends, colleagues and family, writer Jack Hodgins officially received his permanent place in the Comox Valley — in front of none other than a bookstore.
During an hour-long ceremony which began at the Sid Williams Theatre Friday, Hodgins was welcomed as the latest addition to the Comox Valley Walk of Achievement.
The Merville-raised novelist returned to the Valley to officially unveil the plaque placed in the sidewalk in front of the Laughing Oyster Bookstore on Fifth Street, adding to a long list of achievements that include the Order of Canada and numerous academic and literary awards.
“Jack, you have excelled in your field of endeavour,” said committee member and MC Dave Durrant. “You have continued to inspire Comox Valley youth to believe in themselves, and to explore the limitless possibilities the world has to offer. You have instilled a sense of pride throughout the Comox Valley that we are a community that nurtures achievement.”
Hodgins has written more than 15 novels and has stories and articles published in several magazines in Canada, France, Australia and the U.S. He is also the subject of a National Film Board film, Jack Hodgins’ Island and a book, Jack Hodgins and His Work.
During the ceremony, Joy Hodgins-Bell recalled her brother’s start in sharing stories from a young age.
“Tsolum (School) was were Jack got his grounding in English literature. In our younger years when we had company at home, Jack was always delegated to entertain the youngsters by telling stories of which some of them were ghostly,” she noted. “In high school, I would send my essays to him. He would critique them, send them back and I would repair it, hand it in, and I would pass — thanks very much.”
Hodgins credits stories from his parents and family for providing the base of many of his novels.
“I grew up amongst people who loved to tell stories and who I soon discovered that they didn’t mind if you embellished them a bit and re-told them,” he told the crowd.
He credits downtown Courtenay and a variety of merchants for giving him employment while growing up in the Valley.
“Eatons actually hired me for a whole summer to sell electric stoves in the basement. Now someone who doesn’t know anything about electric stoves trying to convince someone to buy one was very good practice for a fiction writer,” he laughed.
The goal of the Walk of Achievement is a to recognize Comox Valley residents who have made significant and lasting contributions in their professional or personal lives.
Previous honourees include Red Robinson, Dr. Fred Leung, Dr. Robert Smith and Stan Hagan.