By David F. Rooney
Syd Blackwell, former keeper of the Wintergreen Inn (now known as the Courthouse Inn) has reached deep into the past to recreate that portion of his life in a soon-to-be-published e-book entitled Innside Stories.
Blackwell and his wife, Gundy, now live in Uruguay. They moved to the South American country in 2007 after selling Wintergreen Inn and Gundy’s property, Green Gables B&B.
“The story writing really started as a memory for me,” he told The Current in an electronic interview. “However, a friend, David Pepper, an administrator at BCIT, visited my inn around this time and greatly encouraged me to turn the stories into a book. He had a plan and we started along that path.”
That path twisted and turned as Blackwell first transformed his lovely inn into an assisted-living facility in 2004 then sold it to Shawn and Young Seon Cook. The Cooks later turned it back into a B&B.
“Eventually, my personal life got complicated by adjustment to life with my new wife, my cancer-stricken brother and father, who both died within a year, running a new business without any of the promised support from Interior Health, and more,” Syd said, adding that “the book was abandoned” but not before he had begun writing down many of the 55 stories he wanted to tell.
“Many had been told dozens of times; others were more difficult to remember.”
The book remained stalled until Syd and Gundy had made the move to Uruguay where, much later, American expat friends Doug Dubosque and Susan Joyce “kept telling me to do an ebook on Amazon. I was reluctant. I told him it was old news. Finally, he just did an initial mock-up of a book and sent it to me. I was impressed. I agreed to go ahead and make the stories into a book.”
The first story in the book, The Gift, is by far Syd’s favourite. “The story is such an incredible occurence, but moreover, it is a story of guests, and staying at a B&B inn, and returning guests, and a story-telling innkeeper,” he said. “In short, it has all the elements.”
That he managed to cobble together so many anecdotes is not that surprising.
“I no longer have any business data,” Syd said when asked how many guests he housed at Wintergreen Inn over the years. “However, the story The Cedar Tree, confirms I had rented out over twelve hundred room nights in the first year, average two people per room, for 2,400 people. I was open nine years. Every year from opening in 1995 until 2001 had increased occupancy numbers. I had virtually no bookings, and massive cancellations from September 11 through to Christmas week 2001. Things slowly recovered in 2002, and got better in 2003. I guess the overall number must be 25,000 to 30,000 guests.
“I am happy that I have found a convenient, and attractive way to share some old stories that probably should have been shared a dozen years ago, when I still had a lot of contacts with former guests.”
Innside Stories is not yet published, but is nonetheless listed for pre-order on Amazon. Please click here if you would like to pick up a copy of it at a cost of $1.32.