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Biography & Autobiography General

Away from My Island

The True Story of Eliza Gill

by (author) Gary Collins

Flanker Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
General, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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A true story of family, heroism, and ultimate sacrifice. Born on Silver Fox Island in 1914, Eliza Gill was working “in service” before she was eight years old. By the age of eleven, she was informed by her father she would be sailing on a fishing schooner to the Labrador, where she would cook for a crew of five. For this she received no pay, but she didn’t complain. Eliza liked the island way of life, but she wanted more for her family. She persuaded her husband, Jacob, to leave their island home before the Resettlement Program began. Jacob worked first as a logger and then as a butcher on Joey Smallwood's pig farm in Gander, Newfoundland, during World War II. The end of the war saw Smallwood's piggery shut down. At Eliza's insistence, the family moved to Toronto. There she met a Jewish neighbour who was a Polish survivor of the Holocaust. She told Eliza about the horrors of a war she could not even fathom. It would haunt Eliza for all of her days. When Jacob developed a sudden debilitating illness, the family was forced to move back to Newfoundland. There, Eliza endured a burdensome, subsistence way of life to raise a family on her own. This is the true account of one woman's fortitude and bravery, neither of which shone more brightly than the day of her tragic—and heroic—death. "Gary Collins. Newfoundland's son. Both builder and carrier of stories that help shape us. Bravo, Gary Collins, on another poignant story you walked inside of and are now giving to us." —Donna Morrissey, author of Rage the Night

About the author

Gary Collins was born in a small, two-storey house by the sea in the town of Hare Bay, Bonavista North. He finished school at Brown Memorial High in the same town. He spent forty years in the logging and sawmilling business with his father, Theophilus, and son Clint. Gary was once Newfoundland’s youngest fisheries guardian. He managed log drives down spring rivers for years, spent seven seasons driving tractor-trailers over ice roads and the Beaufort Sea of Canada’s Western Arctic, and has been involved in the crab, lobster, and cod commercial fisheries.His writing career began when he was asked to write eulogies for deceased friends and family. He spent a full summer employed as a prospector before he wrote Soulis Joe’s Lost Mine; he liked the work so much, he went back to school to earn his prospecting certificate. A critically acclaimed author, he has written a total of eight books, including Cabot Island, The Last Farewell, Soulis Joe’s Lost Mine, Where Eagles Lie Fallen, Mattie Mitchell: Newfoundland’s Greatest Frontiersman, A Day on the Ridge, and the children’s illustrated book What Colour is the Ocean?, which he co-wrote with his granddaughter, Maggie Rose Parsons. The latter won an Atlantic Book Award: The Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration.Gary Collins is Newfoundland and Labrador’s favourite storyteller, and today he is known all over the province as the “Story Man.” His favourite pastimes are reading and writing, and playing guitar at his log cabin. He lives in Hare Bay, Newfoundland, with his wife, the former Rose Gill. They have three children and three grandchildren.

Gary Collins' profile page

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