Former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson was in town this week, conducting interviews for a book she’s planning to publish next year. Entitled Room For All Of Us, the book will focus on a variety of immigrant populations coming out of places of struggle, how coming to Canada impacted them, and how they themselves changed the Canadian culture and landscape.
Former Governor General interviews local city councillor
She interviewed Castlegar’s own Kevin Chernoff as part of her exploration of the Doukhobor community in Canada, also speaking to USCC Chair J.J. Verigin and touring the Doukhobor Discovery Centre.
“I grew up reading about the Doukhobors,” she said, adding her experience in central Canada at the time was a far less multi-cultural one that could be expected today. “It fascinated me – it’s an incredible story.”
She said a particular point of interest for her is the Tolstoy connection (the iconic Russian novelist sponsored the Doukhobor community’s move to Canada), as she believes War and Peace to be the greatest novel every written in any language.
She has her own Russian connections as well – Clarkson’s first trip to the Soviet Union was in 1961 in a youth congress, but in 1968 she participated in a university exchange that allowed her to live behind the iron curtain for a full six months. She’s been to Russia as recently as 2003, when she visited the Russian Federation during a state visit in her role of Governor General.
Clarkson didn’t want to speak at length about the book, as she’s not yet ready to unveil the project for public eyes, but she did say her next stop would be Nelson, to interview war deserters.
For his part, Chernoff said the experience was remarkable.
“When I first got the call, I assumed it was a mistake – that maybe they wanted to talk to Lawrence (Chernoff, mayor of Castlegar), not me,” he said. “I’m still not sure why they wanted me, but it was neat, talking to (Clarkson).
“She’s very intelligent,” he said. “The conversation ranged over so many topics, and she was knowledgeable about all of them.”
One of Clarkson’s favourite topics, though, was a local one – she said city council’s motion disallowing the transport of ultrasound equipment on city roads was, “ingenious and delightful”.