APSE THE GATE
A Collection of Stories
On Home & Away
APSE THE GATE is a collection of essays from Newfoundland transplant and author Shawn Anthony. It offers a glimpse inside a family who experienced the economic exodus of Eastern Canada during the 1970s and 80s. But it also hints at the contrast between perspectives and attitudes that are shaped by different landscapes.
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Born and lives in
Born on Fogo Island, grew up in Scarborough, still growing in Ottawa
First story you ever wrote
I wrote a play in grade 4. Ms. Shemesh caught me in math class doing something that wasn’t math. Being the extraordinary teacher she was – instead of giving me an earful, she read what I had written and said, “This is pretty good.” We ended up performing the play in front of the whole school.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was constantly torn between being a journalist and a gym teacher. Really, I think I wanted to be a gym teacher because I had a teacher/coach who was a positive mentor to me. His name was Doug Harris. I looked up to him and certainly wanted to emulate what he did. He was responsible for helping me find my own self confidence. When it seemed like everyone else was telling me how clumsy and uncoordinated I was (which I was…), he was recognising my enthusiasm and my hard work. He was finding me a place on the field when the rooster was completely full. He had become an advocate for my relative success, and when he presented me a trophy at my high school’s annual Athletes’ banquet, after a year of frustration and spoke about work ethic and effort. Any thoughts I had about quitting overshadowed by the validation of the trophy. More than that though, he was just a good guy. He treated us like adults. When I graduated, he shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and later told me that it was “guys like (me) that make it worth it”. But really, it always came back to story telling for me, and journalism was the closest thing that could take me there, even if it was an occupation in transition.
Funniest politician you have ever worked with
Scott Simms, the MP for Coast of Bays – Central – Notre Dame. Beginning, middle and end. Scott can speak with you on an intellectual level and then quickly shift to accommodate a funny one liner. There is a reason that Scott has been so politically successful is because he spends most of his time speaking with his constituents – and he carries with him the humour and good nature of those people – and for anyone who has spent any time there, you know that those people are very funny! Because really, life is too short to be anything else, right?
Alistair MacLeod. I identified with everything he wrote the first time I picked up No Great Mischief. Both Cassie Brown and Roy MacGregor have honourable mentions.
Favourite day of the week
Monday. If it’s not Mondays, you need to examine what you do for a living.
There are more stories from the Apse The Gate collection – I am hoping to be able to use a variety of mediums to tell these stories – podcasts, in person, radio. Storytelling excites me and I think there’s a void in that storytelling space. I know Canadians have an appetite for relatable Canadian stories, I’m hoping I can bring that to them.
Number-one interview question you are asked
What is it about? I tell people in my "elevator pitch" that Apse the Gate is about the experiences my family and I had moving from rural Newfoundland to urban Toronto, about leaving and finding home. I tend to speak of the positives of the experiences. What I don’t tell them is how some of the people from back on the Island who stayed in our Scarborough apartment seemed to have so much love in their hearts for Newfoundland , that there didn’t seem to be room to even consider liking Ontario. You would hear them at house parties, if someone asked them if they were having a good time, they would just respond with, “Well I suppose…,” and then they would talk about how much better the party would be if it were back home. Whether they were right or not, it almost seemed like they were denying themselves the opportunity to the potential of the party. For those people, it didn’t matter where in the world they went, they couldn’t open themselves up to new possibilities and that became a layer between themselves and opportunities. I think back then, they didn’t – and I didn’t - realize that home wasn’t just about place, as much as it was about people.