By Carrie MacKenzie
KINGSTON – Robert P. Wells, the author of “Wawahte” is republishing his first novel, “Mile Post 104 and Beyond” which was originally published in 2015, by Trafford Press. This moving and inspirational book tells the story of Wells’ life growing up in the Canadian bush, raising his son Perry with his wife Inge and operating a trap line, as well as his 27 year career as a conservation officer. This unique life and the people who he met gave Wells a unique understanding of Indigenous culture and the negative impact of how these people were being treated.
“From an Indigenous perspective, Residential School[s] and the Indian Act was about the disconnection from spirituality, family, the land and to each other,” says Wells. The second edition of “Mile Post 104 and Beyond” is being published by Friesen Press, a well-respected Canadian self-publisher, recommended to Wells when he re-published “Wawahte” in 2016.
The first edition of “Mile Post 104 and Beyond” Wells says “was a test run to see if I could write a book.” This came from a pledge that he made to write about the treatment of Indigenous people he made to his friend and teacher Moochum Joe, an Indigenous Elder. Later, Wells decided to rewrite “Mile Post 104 and Beyond,” and have it edited professionally by Mary Medcalf of Friesen Press as “I had additional information that I felt comfortable sharing, that I didn’t at first,” explains Wells. In addition, Wells removed parts that were no longer relevant.
“I want to create a conversation for reconciliation,” says Wells. “The longer I lived and the more people I met the more unique I thought my childhood was. It is a piece of Canadian history that is no longer there and it should not be lost.” He also hopes that this conversation will include a discussion about how Canada became the country it is today and generate a future where apologies are no longer needed.
Something else Wells hopes to do is to give a voice to our Indigenous veterans.
“They gave of themselves and their lives to a country that didn’t treat them very well,” says Wells. “We honour two or three of Canadian war vets, like the code talkers in the United States and there’s been some very highly decorated Aboriginal war veterans, but what about the ordinary guy, just the ordinary guy?” This is why Wells included the chapter “Phillip Sawdo Cries” in both editions of the book. In this chapter, Mr. Sawdo tells a ten year old Bobby Wells about a traumatic incident he went through while serving in the military during World War II in the European theatre.
One of the later chapters in the book was written by Wells’ Grandson, Jordan and wasn’t in the first edition. In it Jordan talks about the suicide of his cousin and Wells’ nephew, Michael. This occurred when Jordan was just eleven years old and “it just devastated him” Wells says. According to Wells given the number of suicides in the Indigenous community this is a chapter that young people should read so that they do not feel so alone.
For anyone interested in what life was like in the Canadian bush and the relationships that were forged and the life lessons that were taught “Mile Post 104 and Beyond” is the book for them. This book is available online, from Friesen Press as well as other on-line book sellers, “Mile Post 104 and Beyond” will only be available in Kingston bookstores through contact with Wells.
“Mile Post 104 and Beyond” Robert P. Wells, Friesen Press
ISBN 978-1-5255-1341-1 (e-Book) https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000044124217
ISBN 978-1-5255-1339-8 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-1-5255-1340-4 (Hardcover)