Between 1885 and 1911, over
250 men died in avalanches in the Selkirk Mountains of BC, most
notably in Rogers Pass. The worst incident happened at the summit
during the night of March 4, 1910. A crew of railway workers,
headed by Roadmaster John Anderson (who would later become my
grandfather), was clearing the tracks of an earlier avalanche
when it was struck by a second an avalanche off Avalanche
Mountain, from the opposite side of the valley. All but one
Trilogy is a set of three inter-connected novels based
on the 1910 disaster. Read as a group, in any order, or as stand-alone
Snow avalanche, Glacier National Park,
© Parks Canada/John G Woods
Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Birch Award Finalist
A shiver passed through
her, but not from the cold.
As if for one silent moment she shared a secret with
the mountains. A watch over the still-sleeping town
Mama's old-country ways are a source
of frustration and embarrassment to twelve-year-old Karin Anderson
who wants her mother to speak English, not Swedish, and act like
a Canadian. How can she know that the harsh words between them
will be the last? With shocking swiftness Mama is gone, and Karin
longs to be with her again. And when Mama's precious goldstone
pendant is found, can Karin interpret the dreams that come to
her whenever she wears it at night? Does the stone really forecast
the future? When it warns Karin of the deadly avalanche that threatens
her father and his railway crew, will she be able to prevent another
disaster? This poignant and suspenseful tale is based on real
events in Rogers Pass, British Columbia, at the turn of the century.
Downey IODE Award, Shortlist
In my family, there's
a story that gives me the
shivers. Whenever my dad hears it, he says,
"that's life. It can turn on a dime."
Little does Jo know how true
her father's words will turn out to be.
The theme of the avalanche
and its effect on the Anderson family continues in Part 2 of the
Goldstone Trilogy, but focuses on a different generation.
Twelve-year-old Jo is the granddaughter of John Anderson, and
her story is set in Victoria, BC in 1957.
Jo's world is spinning too
fast. Her best friends, with their shifting loyalties and unexpected
cruelties, have left her behind. All they care about is Elvis,
rock n' roll, and boys. And her adored next-door neighbour, sixteen-year-old
Mack, has betrayed Jo's trust and friendship. If it weren't for
Michael, whose family has newly arrived from England, Jo wouldn't
have a friend in the world.
But when Michael is faced
with a choice between Jo and his peers, will he take her side?
Jo fears the worst, only to discover that the worst comes from
an unexpected source. When she learns that Mack is pregnant, and
planning to give the baby up for adoption, she accidentally discovers
a carefully kept secret that she herself was adopted. Feeling
betrayed by everyone, it takes a near crisis, a special family
story, and a mysterious goldstone necklace for Jo to accept who
she is, and to treasure the relationships that have brought her
Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Birch Award finalist
Part 3 of the Goldstone
Trilogy returns to the mountain setting of Goldstone
but moves forward to 2000 and to a member of the third generation
For her twelfth birthday, Ashley
receives a special gift from her Aunt Jo - a goldstone necklace
that has been in the Anderson family for nearly a century. Her
aunt also sends along some prophetic words: I got the goldstone
at a time when I needed something special. I wore it for years
never thinking it was more than a beautiful pendant and a link
to the past. Later I learned that the goldstone is also a link
to the future. Wear it at night, and you'll see what lies ahead.
Ashley is enchanted by the
stone, and cannot resist dreaming about her future. But fate has
brought Ashley much more than the goldstone. When she wears her
gift, a presence deep within the glacial mountains is awakened.
A boy named Jonathan, who has transcended the bounds of time,
begins to stalk her. He too dreams of the future, and has foreseen
the moment when he can reclaim the stone and fulfill a promise
made long ago. To do that, he must first lure Ashley into the
ghostly world between life and death.
Story Behind the Stories
Most people have a "What if?" family story that they can relate
to, where a twist of fate determines their very existence. In my case,
it was a matter of timing. Here's the story that inspired me to write
In the early 1900s, my grandfather John Anderson was a Roadmaster for
the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Selkirk Mountains of BC, a region
notorious for the heavy snowfalls.
The winter of 1910 was especially severe. On the night of March 4,
an avalanche roared down Cheops Mountain and buried the tracks thirty
feet deep at the summit of Rogers Pass. Anderson and his crew, already
exhausted after several straight days (and nights) of snow clearing,
went out to the site and got to work. Armed with lanterns and torches,
picks and shovels, the men descended into the cut made by the snow plough,
intent on clearing the tracks before morning. Around about midnight,
Anderson left the site to phone in a progress report. He returned to
discover that another avalanche had come down from Avalanche Mountain
and buried everything.
Only one voice answered his call for survivors. Fifty-eight men lost
their lives, including Anderson's younger brother, my Great-Uncle Charlie.
As a child I was haunted by that story. I still am. What made my grandfather
leave the site to phone in his report at that particular time? If he
hadn't acted when he did, my mother would not have been born and I wouldn't
be here to write about it. So I'm grateful for my grandfather's sense
The avalanche story started as a picture book and underwent numerous
revisions and rejections. My editor suggested that the subject
matter would work better as a novel.
My first draft of the novel was too long for one book, and took place
largely in the 1950s with flashbacks to the avalanche story. So I proposed
a trilogy. Same family, different generations.
After the first two books were published I had to think of a third.
My first draft, with a Victoria setting, wasn't going that well until
my dad suggested I take the story back to the mountains.
I liked that idea. I started wondering about the goldstone itself.
Where had it come from? What gave it the magic?
The questions led to Jonathon, the ghost in The Ghost of Avalanche
Mountain. It also led me to the night of the avalanche and to the
crewmen who had been buried. What if one of the men had made a promise
he was compelled to keep? What if that promise concerned the goldstone?
Of the three books, The Ghost of Avalanche Mountain turned out
to be the one I enjoyed writing the most. It was exciting to write it,
because I never knew what was going to happen next. Jonathon had never
been planned, and the idea of having him actually working on the crew
and getting buried by the avalanche had never crossed my mind. He just
kind of appeared on my computer screen and I was hooked.
Who knows where ideas come from?
The best thing about writing? Magic happens!
Alpine meadows in the Selkirk Mountains, where
Goldstone characters like to hike. (Me too!)
Based on actual events, Goldstone makes
for a suspenseful and entertaining read
are the descriptions of the avalanches and their physical and
emotional impact on survivors and landscape. With the recent onslaught
of natural disasters, this novel
has timely relevance.
Turns on a Dime
multiple themes of family
relationships, peer pressure, friendship and betrayal. The book's
narrative, which moves smoothly from beginning to end, successfully
combines humour and drama that will keep readers entertained.
Canadian Book Review Annual
Numerous references to the 1950s add to the
setting and give a historical framework to Turns on a Dime.
The solid characterization, well-paced plot, and Jo's journey
of discovery will appeal to readers. Jo is markedly naοve and
impetuous in keeping with the conservative but changing tenor
of the times. While the mystique of the goldstone pendant continues
from the first novel, Turns on a Dime can stand alone as
a complete, satisfying coming-of-age story.
School Library Journal
In The Ghost of Avalanche Mountain Lawson
neatly intersects past and present, historical fact and clever
the plot two people, one out of time, heading
on a collision course toward each other - is compelling
conclusion to the Goldstone Trilogy and a satisfying read
on its own.
Quill & Quire
to Buy these books
Titles in the Goldstone Trilogy are available:
1. at your local bookstore or children's bookstore.
2. by placing an order with your local bookstore or online bookseller.
3. directly from the publisher, Fitzhenry
and Whiteside. (1-800-387-9776)
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