They say it’s never too late to make a dream come true. That is certainly the case with 93 year-old former Norquay resident, William (Bill) Shymkiw who has recently published his first volume of short stories entitled The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow.
During a phone interview from his current home in Olds, Alberta, Shymkiw explained, “All of the stories are based on my own personal belief system…that there is always hope in a new day, we must keep looking forward, and we must trust that tomorrow will be good.”
As a one-room schoolhouse teacher turned high school principal, family man, and farmer, Shymkiw enjoyed the first 70 years of his life in the Norquay area. In 1995, he and his wife moved to Alberta to slow down and enjoy the quiet life. In time, his rural Saskatchewan roots would serve as a backdrop for many of what have been called his tender and relatable narratives. Shymkiw’s collection dives into locations all around the world, along with many set in and around his hometown.
“Johnny’s Bicycle, set in the village of Margo, is about a little boy who suffers the loss of his mother and moves in with his grandfather,” explained Shymkiw, describing the story as a tragedy that evolves to a deepening of the relationship with his grandfather through the gift of a bicycle.
“Who Am I?” offers Shymkiw “is a love story featuring a Jewish girl who graduates from high school and boards a train to Winnipeg. All is going according to plan, until she falls off the train.
Shymkiw further mentioned a story set in Kamsack. “This one drops readers into a Doukhobor village rife with turmoil. A great debate rages in the community torn between the choice to abide by the local government laws or follow their spiritual leader to set up a new life in Alberta,” he explained.
Following the death of his wife in 2005, Shymkiw described how he “drifted” for a number of years. Eventually, it came to the point where he had to face the decision to either move to an assisted living residence or find someone to give him a hand in his own home. Opting for the latter, he has not only secured the care he needed, but also a welcome dose of encouragement.
“I could not have completed this book without my helper and right hand, Rita McPherson,” said Shymkiw. “I am partially blind, so I rely on Rita to type for me.”
In fact, the pair have made such a dynamic team, they have already launched into a second book. The next volume will include another 30 stories and will be published by Friesen Press.
“At one time my retirement years included things like gardening and painting landscapes,” said Shymkiw. “When I decided to write my first short story, I showed it to Rita, and she said, ‘hey, that’s not too bad.’”
Margo, Canora, Swan Plain, Veregin, Kamsack, and Norquay are just some of the locations featured in this first volume. The book is currently available to order from the Friesen Press bookstore (online) and will soon be available in local retail bookstores.