Louis's Place: A gem from our own backyard. 

By Robyn Cubie

It all started as a gift to the grandchildren — an insight into the life of the pioneer businessman, world traveller and family man they knew as Grandpa. It was also a piece of their own ancestral puzzle, with a few life lessons thrown in for good measure.

But as projects often do, it grew beyond that, and now the book "Louis’s Place" is available for all to read. As the cover hints, it is "the story of Louis Potvin from Bonnyville to Lillooet Lake via Tokyo and Havana," with a little editorial help from former Vancouver Sun reporter, Ron Rose.

And the response has been positive, with growing public interest in Louis Potvin’s autobiography and offers from other book distribution agencies. There’s even talk of it being translated into Japanese. However Potvin says for him at least, the buck stops here. "My wife Carol would divorce me if I ever tried writing another book," he chuckles. "It took more than two years to write and was definitely a labour of love and frustration, especially when you have to foot the bill for publishing."

The story of Potvin’s life to date is summed up on the first page. "I have come to rest (more or less) in this splendid isolation after a lifetime of hard work, false starts, disappointments, brazen gall and good luck."

The book records his life history, starting with his 1924 birth in Bonnyville in rural northern Alberta. While the recollections do jump around a little, the reader is taken on a largely chronological journey with special events relished, revisited and expanded upon.

The first stop is Vancouver, BC, where Potvin’s parents moved in search of a better life after a year of marriage. This was the start of a existence shunting between his French-speaking grandparents in rural Alberta and his Anglophile parents in the city. He says it resulted in a wider life experience than most kids his age, but came at the expense of his education. He left school at age 15 to follow a passion that would ultimately stamp his mark in the Sea to Sky Corridor — the creation of Mountain FM, with his second wife Carol. The radio station is now just months away from its 20th anniversary on November 30, 2001. But following in the style of the book, let’s take a step back.

"The radio bug bit me at age 14," he explains in the book, "I found a job at the local radio repair shop at $3.50 a week but only when Joe (the boss) could afford it."


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