A Place To Stand

A Tale of the Peace River Country

by J. W. Secrist



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 1/1/0001

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 320
ISBN : 9781425907419

About the Book

Liam Brennan, a young Irish immigrant to Canada, gets a job working as a surveyor in British Columbia’s Peace River Block during the years just prior to World War I.  As the war unfolds in Europe, Liam and some of his fellows enlist in the Canadian Army and shortly find themselves in war-ravaged Western Europe.  At the Battle of the Somme, Liam suffers a terrible wound and is captured by the German army and put into a POW camp in Belgium. Though grievously wounded, Liam, against all odds, survives the prisoner of war camp and is still there when the Armistice frees the POW’s.  In the weeks following his release, he meets Marta, a young Belgian girl, and is befriended by her and her mother.  After a brief visit to his family in Ireland, Liam returns to Belgium and marries Marta.  During the long months of his confinement Liam had been strengthened by his resolve to survive the war and return to British Columbia and make a home there.

He and Marta make their way half the distance around the globe to a place on the Peace River Liam remembered from his days as  a surveyor before the war.  The story of their lives in this new and pristine country takes the reader through the next half century.  The Brennans struggle with isolation and hardship.  Their children and later their grandchildren take up the quest to make a new and better life.  Along the way, Liam and Marta must cope with the deaths of some of their children, fiercely cold winters and insect-plagued summers.  They see the beautiful river they have settled by become a target for a huge government-built dam.  Liam struggles with the dichotomy of his love for the unchanged river and his involvement in the building of the dam.  The simple life Liam had foreseen becomes clouded by the growth of the area, elemental forces of nature, the attitudes of his own children and his own guilt as an agent of change.









About the Author

Jerry Secrist was born in California and grew up in Utah where he lived with his parents and siblings in a small farming community.    He attended Utah State University and received a Batchelor of Science Degree in English Education in 1968.  While teaching English and Journalism in Moses Lake, Washington, he became personally acquainted with British Columbia’s Peace River Country when he helped a friend haul farm machinery to the land where he was homesteading.  In due course, he convinced his wife that they should move there.   He was intrigued with the modern pioneer lifestyle that had and was still developing there and he wanted to be a part of it.  In 1971, he and his wife with their two small sons moved to the community of Fort St. John, where he taught high school.  They made many life-long friendships in those first months.

Jerry’s many friends and acquaintances in the agricultural sector taught him to appreciate the challenges and difficulties of farming and ranching in a new and raw environment.    As he witnessed their lives and taught their children in school, he marveled at their stoicism and pioneer spirit, many still living without the comforts of electricity or indoor plumbing.   Pioneering was only two generations back in his own family background in the western U.S.  and he vowed  that when he had the time he would write their collective story.

Jerry retired from teaching in 1999.  He and his wife live in Charlie Lake where he raises and trains horses.  He spends his summers in the mountains of the beautiful Peace River Country.