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Retired millwright publishes short story that blends fiction and real life

Much of 'It’ll Be Fun, He Said' takes place in northern Ontario, says author

In the mid-1970s, Glen Cressman moved from his hometown of Kitchener to the oil patch in Edmonton where he stayed for a few years trying to “get rich.”

“It didn’t pan out, so I moved back to Kitchener,” says Glen Cressman, author of the recently published ‘It’ll Be Fun,’ He Said short story.

Back in his hometown, he took a job as a millwright in a tire plant, where he worked until his retirement.  

During those 30 years, Cressman would frequent his camp on Cockburn Island whenever he had the chance.

In 2011, he moved to Thessalon to be closer to that camp.

“Currently, I'm a registered first mate working part time on a Great Lakes tugboat/barge operation moving goods to and from Cockburn Island,” he says.

“I'm also a local odd jobs guy doing all manner of small construction-related work. Many of my customers have direct ties to Cockburn Island.”

Cressman is also a two-term elected councilmen for the township of Cockburn Island.

He highlights the meeting of a local author who wrote about the history of Cockburn Island as an inspirational moment. 

“I met J. E. Macdonald who wrote the book Yonder Our Island, the history of Cockburn Island through a longtime friend of mine Harold (Smiler) McQuarrie who is a cornerstone of the island.”

Cressman, who is a natural storyteller himself, would often gather with friends over the years and “try to solve the world’s problems, usually over a couple of drinks.”

“In my world more often than not, it would be at someone's kitchen table,” he laughs.

“The more drinking, the more arguments and confrontational the discussions would get. I was known for turning an argument back into a discussion [by] adding humour and reason to the argument.”

Many of these kitchen table gatherings would turn into “remember when?” events where that people gathered would revisit memories and events from the past.

“We had a lot of strange and unusual events from our past, most of which I was a part of,” says Cressman.

“For whatever reason, my friends liked how I'd recall the event.”

A few years back at a funeral for one Cressman’s friends, a group of friends gathered in the funeral home parking lot and shared stories, recalling many events from the deceased friend’s past.

“It was wonderful and therapeutic,” he says.

“It was there that many of my friends told me I have to make a record of these events before time erased them. So I did.”

When he was thinking of what format the stories should take and how to frame the real life events in a fiction, it was another “kitchen table” event that helped solidify the concept.

“At a kitchen table gathering with my retired friend, we started to recall all the events from our past trying to cross the country, some [by] hitch-hiking and some in vehicles,” he says.

“[Some trips we] never made it. I thought it might fun, or at least interesting, to try it again. So I wrote this story.” 

The end result was titled, It’ll Be Fun, He Said which takes the form of a post-retirement road trip story.

In the story, the protagonist convinces a friend to take an adventure with him by hitchhiking. 

“[In the story], we have a secret weapon: a magnetic whiteboard,” says Cressman.

“We can put whatever we want on [the whiteboard] to help get us rides.”

The story captures the 10-day trip and the hijinks that ensue.  

“[It’s] complete with many, let's say, unusual events occurring,” says Cressman.

“Although the story is fictional, it is based on and inspired by real events.”

Much of it takes place across northern Ontario.

It'll Be Fun, He Said is available in both print and e-book on amazon.ca.

Print copies are also available at the Jones Valumart in Thessalon.

Cressman can also be contacted directly by email here.