Ottawa Writers

Ottawa writers hit their stride producing quality

and bestsellers in books, short stories and poetry

(Be sure to read the award winning short story in this week's edition of True North Perspective, Ball Hockey and Other Blood Sports, by Mel Massey, International Commercial lawyer who retired recently to nurture his enthusiasm for creative writing, among other projects.)

By Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
True North Perspective

There is a joyful creative spirit generating in Ottawa, Canada's capital, as hard-working writers reveal intelligence, imagination, humour, and wisdom.

Leading the sales pack so far is Randy Ray, journalist and publicist, whose books provide in a light, entertaining, and insightful style, facts, figures and stories on how Canada became a country and how it works. His books, in collaboration with Mark Kearney of London, Ontario, have sold more than 50,000 copies. Not bad when one considers that in Canada a bestseller mark is 5,000. 

In alphabetical order there are (only a partial list as names come to mind as my fingers fly over the key board) Jennifer Cook (Molly's Story: Aftermath of War and Love); Dyan Cross (Treasure Under the Tundra: Canada's Arctic Diamonds); T. Robert Fowler (Courage Rewarded: The Valour of Canadian Soldiers Under Fire 1900-2007); Valerie Knowles (Capital Lives, Vol. 2 — a revealing look at the city's movers and shakers); Patricia McCarthy, an excellent writer who has been at the forefront of the vampire-with-humour genre, her latest (The Crimson Time); award winner Terry West (Ripe for the Picking); Anne Raina, (Clara's Rib); Gordon Pimm (Leo's War — From Gaspé to Vimy, a passionate account of one soldier); J.C. Sulzenko (What My Grandma Means to Say — a moving story about Alzheimer's disease from a child's point of view).

All of these books and many more whose titles and authors I have neither time nor space to print (more than 200) may be found on the web at

The above is the web site of Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). In the photo below you'll find members of a memoir-writing weekend last May 5 to 8 sponsored by OIW. A click on the following link will take you to an award-winning short story, Ball Hockey and Other Blood Sportsby Mel Massey (fourth from the right, back row).


Happy faces reflect a satisfying weekend


Stopping for the camera OIW memoir writing group May 5-8

Front row from left: Yohanna Loonen, Julia Cromey, Jasmine Aziz, Sachiko Okuda.

Back row from left: Susan Jennings, OIW Vice-President, Carl Dow, OIW President, Hilda Young, Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Memoir Writing Moderator, Norman Rosolen, Janice Tuzo, Mel Massey, Mila Kowalewska, Diane Lachapelle, John Last MD.



A short story

Ball Hockey and Other Blood Sports

By Mel Massey
It is a bitter afternoon in Montreal in late November, in the early sixties and colder now than it will be when winter brings down a cover of snow. Gusts of wind numb our cheeks and thighs. We usually play until the light fades behind the old buildings. 

There are a bunch of us, third to seventh grade boys, stripped to our shirts and sweaters, running up and down the unpaved lane behind the row of duplexes, playing ball hockey on the frozen ground.The garage doors with peeling paint and dirt encrusted windows under the back of the buildings are one boundary of our game. 

The city hasn’t maintained the lanes since they stopped using them to pick up garbage and piles of debris and hulks of discarded furniture lie along the falling down board fence, the other limit of play. Our coats are an untidy mound behind the goals, where we flung them as we heated up. 

I am so hot the freezing wind feels like a cooling breeze on my incandescent face and sweat spreads on my forehead. The goal posts are tin garbage cans guarded by small children with old baseball gloves. We surge back and forth and side to side, a rag-tag assortment in old clothes and scuffed shoes whirling through the late afternoon shadows. We shout and grunt as our feet scuff the ground and chipped hockey sticks rasp on the frozen gravel.

“Over here”, my brother Dave shouts as I sweep down the wing. I try a backhand pass but the ball catches a clump of gravel and jumps over his stick. Josh, my cousin, corrals the bouncing ball and shouts to his brother on the other side of the net before slipping the ball inside the post, while the little goalie sprawls out of position. I bend over sucking air into my burning lungs.

“See that move!” Josh shouts, “four to three.”

We line up across from each other and wait for little third grade Denis to throw the ball into the face-off. He has it in his mitten and swings his arm back and forth to create suspense. Our breath rushes into the deep-freeze in clouds mingling and swirling away. 

“All you get out! Stop play now!” A rough foreign shout comes from above.

We look up. — 1,986 words.

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