From Marja’s Favourite Recipes, 1971


We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

Romans 15:2 NLT


Yes, I had a rich life, doing many interesting things—accomplishing much, despite my mental health struggles. But, except for a couple of years part-time, I could not work at a regular job. I wanted to earn money like everyone else, but whenever I tried, the stress brought me down.

In the late nineties Bert Cowan, the manager of B.C. Industries, a company that sold engineering and drafting equipment, gave me a job. He was aware that I had been at Riverview, and yet he was willing to give me an opportunity to do whatever I could. My regular job there was invoicing but, more important than that, was revising the company’s catalog. At a time when I was feeling small, Mr. Cowan entrusted me with this creative and challenging project. It gave me a great boost.

This was before the computer era. The work was much different than it would be today. Each page was produced using cut-out bits of paper describing the products in writing. Other bits showed the illustrations. And tinier bits showed the page numbers and titles. All these little pieces were carefully composed and assembled on large sheets of heavy paper using rubber cement.

There was writing to do and illustrations to search for. The toughest part of the project was finding ways to re-organize the book by adding and subtracting various things. It was a puzzle. That’s what cutting and pasting involved in those days. How much easier such things have become!

The work was difficult, but I did enjoy the challenge. Besides. It gave me a window into how books are produced—something I found fascinating. This is where my love of making books was born. I ended up making all kinds of books. Photo books, books of writings and photography.

In 1971 I created what would be my first of several recipe books and booklets. I had thirty copies of Marja’s Favourite Recipes printed. Christmas presents for friends and family.

How I appreciated Bert Cowan! I don’t know how I would have done if he had not given me this opportunity. He cared. He wanted to see me make the most of what I could be.

Next, I’ll take you back to continue my story about Lions Gate Camera Club—a place where I would be coming out of my shell, confident enough to take leadership roles.

This has been part 6 of my series My Journey from Patient to Leader. Read part 7: Immersed in photography