Now fifty-nine, I was born on a Friday-the-thirteenth, the youngest of four. I have mongrel-mostly-English roots, and my growing-up years were poor of money but rich in spirit. I married at nineteen for all the wrong reasons, divorced after twenty years, remarried, and I am the mother of two flawed, yet near-perfect children. I am a dyed-in-the-wool Canadian cloistered in a small English enclave in the largely French province of Québec. I am a jack-of-no-particular-trade with an honours degree in art history struggling to make a living, while simultaneously working every available hour at my chosen craft, writing.

I am fond of flower gardening, long walks, cemeteries, most types of music, wolves, snakes, cheese, French pastries, VSOP brandy, old art and dead civilizations, Shakespeare, biographies, and occasional lapses into vacuous vegetating. I dislike telephones, politics, egocentric know-it-alls, large social gatherings, long winters, red-green-or-yellow peppers regardless of their bite, hairless caterpillars … and waiting.


17 responses to this post.

  1. Such a great bio, Leenie, but oh how I wish you had a picture on your site. I’d just love to see who you are, to help me remember!


  2. Thanks for dropping by, Elaine. The fact is, I haven’t figured out all the ins-and-outs of this blogging business yet. The (seemingly simple) matter of adding a picture is one of those things. I definitely have to schedule in a bit of time to devote to fine-tuning.


  3. I enjoyed reading your bio, Earleen. I share your aversion to hairless caterpillars, also like wolves and snakes, and especially writing. Regarding long winters, BC isn’t too bad for winter months. Quebec winters seem to go on for ever. Cheers, Lee


  4. Hello leeniedevinity,

    I’m a Chinese writer in the middle of writing the history of Ottawa Chinese. I read your comments on a post talking about Tom Chu’s grave. I’d really like to know more information regarding the early Chinese life in Ottawa area. It is much appreciated if you could help.

    Best regards,
    Jeff Wang


    • Hi Jeff,

      I see you read my comment to Martin Gregory’s blog post at https://martinnestor.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/the-lonely-grave-of-tom-chu/.

      What you read there is pretty much all I know about the life of the Chinese in the Ottawa area. My own dad told me about the Chinese in the Shawville area (Quebec, about 1 hour west of Ottawa); he’d known the men personally and enjoyed their company. I’ve always had an interest in history and graveyards (I’m a writer with a degree in art history), and the rest of what I wrote in the comment came out of prior knowledge and Google research.

      I’m sorry I’m unable to be of any real help to you. Feel free to keep me in the loop about the progress of your research. There’s a very interesting book there, one that will fill a gap in Canadian historical knowledge.

      All the best,


  5. Thanks a lot Earleen! I’ve written a pretty long reply here but when I clicked on the Post Comment button, a error message popped up saying my reply cannot be submitted. I just give another try.


  6. My email address is xyback@yahoo.com.

    I’d like to quote your comments in my book if you don’t mind. It seems mudhooks lives nearby Kemptville and knows the Dairy Barn owner Maria. Do you have his/her contact information? If so, can you please introduce me to him/her?



  7. Sure you can use my comments if you like. No problem.

    I don’t know who mudhooks is, but he/she may be a friend of Martin Gregory, who wrote the blog post. You may want to write to him and reference his Tom Chu post https://martinnestor.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/the-lonely-grave-of-tom-chu/. He may be of some help.

    Regarding the Dairy Barn, I did a Google and found this address and phone number:
    43 King Street, Kemptville, ON K0G 1J0
    (613) 258-0294
    However, they seem to be open only April through November.

    I suspect Tom Chu’s grave is in the Kemptville Union Cemetery, managed by the Kemptville Cemetery Board. Here’s the online contact form, where you can ask a question. http://geneofun.on.ca/cems/form/question/ONGVL12207?PHPSESSID=e4b0ec15692ad9d807fddab15393a084

    There’s also the Kemptville Public Cemetery http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/ontario/eastont/leeds/northgre/kempunio/index.htm, but I was unable to find the Tom Chu grave in it’s pages. (Still, being so far apart, there’s a possibility it was excluded.) There’s a contact email on this page http://vitacollections.ca/ogscollections/2720028/data

    You could also try contacting the municipal offices, which will likely put you in contact with someone who can help you. I’d try Mark Guy, Director, Parks, Recreation & Culture mguy@northgrenville.on.ca (see http://www.northgrenville.ca/contactus.cfm)

    I expect you’ve read this book http://www.bytown.net/chinese.htm The author Denise Chong is at Carleton U. (http://carleton.ca/womensstudies/people/denise-chong-2/)

    I hope I’ve been of some help.



  8. I really appreciate your informative and helpful reply! It was planed to visit Tom Chu’s grave for sure next spring or summer. According to your information, I’ll contact Dairy Barn before I go.

    It is good to know there are two cemeteries in Kemptville. I’m going to follow the clues that you provided about the people and book. I feel encouraged and more confident about my writing now.



  9. Just a thought. You might give thought to creating an blog that elaborates on the adventures your research takes you (and the blog might be helpful in organizing your material when it comes time to amass all your research and write the book).

    Wishing you fruitful times ahead.



    • In order to be able to contact you, I did register a blog below:

      I don’t know what to post yet. I’ll try adding stuff along with my writing, especially for the information that can be shared to benefit more interests. Well, I forgot to mention, I actually write in Chinese. I wonder if I have energy and ability to write this historical book bilingual. Thanks again for your continuous help and highlights.



  10. I look forward to following your progress, Jeff. 🙂

    Perhaps you can find a collaborator, one whose primary purpose would be translation.

    With this kind of research there are always slow periods. Fortunately, these are offset by periods of great (and satisfying) productivity. Just take it at a comfortable pace, and back away for a break when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Sometimes distance can be a great tool. There are times when things fall into place quite unconsciously, when you aren’t even thinking about them.

    Please don’t be deterred. Your project is a worthy one. I’m guessing you are probably young(ish), so you have no shortage of time at your disposal.

    I’m guessing Jeff is not the name you were given at birth. If you don’t mind telling me, I’d love to know your Chinese name.


    • You never know. A couple days ago, I felt nowhere to start the Ottawa part in the book. But now I’m so excited about the clues coming to me that drive me going forward very fast. I have completed the part of early Chinese who came to the west coast as coolie labour very briefly by referencing the old materials. After CPR completion, the dismissed Chinese began to move to eastern Canada and spread across the small towns. It was this time or even later that Chinese emerged in Ottawa Area. This is of the most difficulty due to the lack of records. After finishing Tom Chu’s grave, I will be able to sit back in my chair for a break. As an experienced art historic writer, you must have been used to very patient. I am not so young but still years to go for my retirement. The full time job doesn’t help my writing at all. My Chinese name is Jianguo but it’s getting forgotten and people call me my penname more which is Xiaoyan. Martin kindly replied me in his blog. You are so lucky to have the common interest. I guess you both have the same last name. All the best. Jeff


      • I look forward to seeing the finished book, Xiaoyan. How many years have you been working on the manuscript now? Have you been traveling across Canada as you undertake each leg of your research, or are you doing most of your work in the Library and Archives building, in Ottawa? I imagine it’s been difficult juggling the responsibilities of your job with the work on this project.

        Indeed, research requires much patience. I am a naturally patient person, so I’m well suited to it, and actually thrive on the chase.

        Feel free to send updates on your progress to me here, or to: earleen [dot] devine [at] gmail [dot] com 🙂

  11. I sent you an email just now. Many thanks as always. Jeff


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