Restless soul cracks Canada open in first book    Original article  Click for link

Where is the largest baseball bat in the country located? What is an ookpik? What’s the story on Hawkins Cheezies?

If you think you know Canada, you might want to grab a copy of The Great Canadian Notebook. The book delves into a plethora of Canadianisms, some of which will no doubt be new to you.

It is Dennis Rimmer’s first book. The longtime broadcaster and journalist is now retired and finally found the time to gather these pages. The book is a collection of stories from a ‘Canada Column’ he wrote for the Bellingham Herald over a 14 year period, along with a few extras.

“I’ve always wanted to have a book or two or three with my name on it (or them) out there,” said Rimmer, who now calls Radisson home. He credits his wife Diane for making it happen. They gave themselves a six-week deadline over the summer, and she got it done.

Essentially, Rimmer explained Canada to Americans in over 700 columns. “People liked it! I was amazed,” he said. The book is engaging and informative and doesn’t aspire to be a weighty historical tome. “It’s a great educator, but it’s not dry and boring.” You can read a chapter and come back later and read another one without missing a beat.

The Notebook asks and answers questions, debunks myths, takes issue at times, discusses prominent Canadians (and some Saskatchewanians), Canadian food, wildlife, towns, events, politics, etc. Pink Elephant Popcorn, Jim McCrory, Brian Cox, and Dan Murphy, a ‘sweet’ 97-year-old former Radisson resident all receive honourable mention.

Rimmer grew up in Crescent Beach, BC, completed high school in Saskatoon and graduated from BCIT in 1969. He worked in radio until 2000 in places like Victoria, Vancouver, Bellingham and Saskatoon, filling various roles like creative director, copywriter, news guy, program director and on air guy, winning some awards along the way.

The book title is borrowed from a regular radio sign-off: “This is Dennis Rimmer with another page in the Great Canadian Notebook.” The briefly considered title, “Smells Like Maple Syrup,” didn’t make the cut, laughs Rimmer. One of his favourite stories is “The Curious Puzzle of Mr. Smith” and similar intriguing recountings.

Rimmer calls himself a restless soul and Diane concurs. He relocated a good bit over his career. He thought about doing the Canada Column for four years before he pitched it. He has written non-fiction books previously but lost interest when revisions were requested.

With the Great Canadian Notebook, part of the motive was simply to tell Canadian stories. “I think there’s a lot of stories that we do not tell about ourselves as Canadians that have to be told, otherwise we forget them,” said Rimmer. It’s about celebrating our national identity and preserving culture. “I would like to have this book in every school room and every library in the country, if possible.” He’s heard from a lot of people that the book “teases you to find out more.” It also includes clips from the past, such as what happened on a given day in Canadian history.

There may be a second Great Canadian Notebook. Rimmer has not exhausted his material. You can find first one at many of the usual haunts in Saskatoon as well as in Radisson.