Daughter publishes book by Bill Matheson seven years after his death
EDMONTON - Legendary Edmonton TV weatherman Bill Matheson always dreamed of being a published author. Seven years after his death, his daughter has made his dream come true.http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertai ... story.html
The self-published A Year Down North tells the story of a young meteorological assistant’s adventures in the Canadian sub-arctic of the 1940s, after the Second World War, but before ice roads, television and reliable radio reception.
“It also follows the lives of people who lived in the Northwest Territories 70 years ago when things were just beginning to change from the traditional ways of living, so, as such, it’s a time capsule and a ripping good read,” his daughter, Tricia Matheson, says on the phone from her Toronto home.
Jerome Geoff is a fictional character and Fort Poontuk, a fictional place, but the story is semi-autobiographical, Matheson explains. It’s based on the six years (1948-1954) her dad worked in remote places such as Fort Smith and Fort Simpson, N.W.T., 1,450 km northwest of Edmonton, as a technician with the federal Transport Department’s meteorological branch.
In 1954, Bill moved back to Lethbridge, his hometown, where he was the TV weatherman, and hosted a popular call-in show on CJOC radio, for 20 years.
By the time he found time to write his book, it was 1976 and Bill was 50 and living in a highrise apartment overlooking Columbus Circle in the heart of New York City. He was working as the weekend weatherman at TV station WABC across the street from where he lived, just before coming to Edmonton.
Bill used an old manual Underwood typewriter to compose his book. He was a two-finger typist, his daughter says, but a very fast two-finger typist.
“I can remember him clacking away and gales of laughter coming from the writing room, he just had a blast writing it,” remembers Matheson, who was 20 at the time. “He tried working on it every day and completed the manuscript before he left New York.”
Bill sent a copy to one publisher and a second to himself — a primitive form of copyright back then, Matheson explains.
The prospective publisher passed on it, complaining it contained a lot of “$100 words and was kind of scientific so they weren’t too keen on it.”
But Matheson’s sure Edmonton fans who came to love her father’s signature phrases such as “the most dreaded of all meteorological phenomena, the Siberian High,” during his 23 years on CITV (now Global Edmonton), where he “entertained, elucidated, emancipated, enlightened and gave mental emolument to the hoi polloi,” “will appreciate Bill Matheson’s unique voice and will be intrigued by a story they won’t have heard before.”
It should also appeal to people who listened to him and co-host Bill Jackson on the Bill and Bill Show on CJCA radio from 1976 to 1993. And to him, solo, on CHED radio from 1993 until his retirement in 1999.
His flowery language and expressive nature earned him the world’s best weather presenter award at the International Weather Forecasters Festival in Paris in 1995.
Bill Matheson died of complications from Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease at the age of 80, on Sept. 19, 2006, in a nursing home in Lethbridge.
Matheson says when her father passed away, her family was overwhelmed at the amazing responses they received from Edmonton and how much he was loved.
“Many people wrote that they had become interested in meteorology, or science, or the English language and writing, just because of the influence that he had, and we just thought that there might be a wider audience for this book.”
A Year Down North is available on Amazon.ca as an ebook ($1.99) and as a 177-page printed book ($10.50).
All proceeds will go to the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.
“Bill would be tickled pink to know his book has been published,” Matheson says. “My brother Kit and I are just so happy because his whole life, his big dream was to be a published author and it never happened when he was alive, so this is a posthumous way to make one of his dearest wishes come true.”