The Lie that tells a truth – a Quiet City blog

Fact : The place of Emmett Till’s death is now on its third physical sign, a teflon coated, bulletproof marker that weighs in at over 500 lbs.

Lie : Atticus Fitch and To Kill a Mockingbird really happened exactly like that with those specific names.

Now, by no means am I comparing my story to Harper Lee’s justifiably Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, or my subject matter as powerful as how one speaks to the injustice and still present anger, but I literally just saw the article about the new sign (Washington Post Article ) and it is the broadest and most blatent example of this.

Such things show the function of fiction. Through a story you can bring people in and let them fully experience truth at a gut level. To Kill a Mockingbird caused a visceral reaction in 1960. So did Philadelphia when that movie came out in 1993.

For me the story of The Quiet City speaks to both the magic and the extremes of my hometown, which is really like many places but packed between a Malahat and a Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

In one block in Victoria are the vvery poorest and most extremely wealthy. Working in our service industry for decades in a world class tourist destination I have long compared it to a theater stage. There is a glorious performance up front, but backstage the paint is peeling and the coffee machine needs replacing. Even more so now as working people can’t survive on one job and the need for “low income housing” keeps exploding, as well as animosity to people who have properties here from out of town.

Whitechapel all over again, and here comes my ripper.

There’s also the enjoyment of the books creation. Outside of my own political and editorial sides, to come anywhere near creating this work I had to dig into every story, many of which just unfolded more secrets and stories about our city such as the network of tunnels…

and like this image, Victoria’s story is one of a vibrant mix of cultures as in the early days we were more the destination than Vancouver. As such this new furthest flug city of the commonwealth attracted everyone, from First Nations to across the Pacific, from Europe to every other corner of the

Inner harbour 1910

…world to create their own chapters.

What is still interesting is due to the natural barriers of water and mountain rock, our mix of stories is crammed together so within a few miles it is as though every possiblity is played out. And of course there’s poor dear Agnes Bing, who perished on September 29th 1899.

I had the idea for the Ripper coming here only to find out that this lady who co-owned a bakery with her husband John was tragically killed in that same way trying to cross the then Johnson Street bridge late at night. Songhees people were blamed but we never learned the truth. Like with the Ripper crime scene investigation was in its infancy.

So is The Quiet City true? No. The settings are as accurate as I could make them, and certain people such as Rattenbury, Carr and the Vital Statistics agency in the West building are absolutely fact. My story is silly but the rest comes from a love, pride and fascination with #yyj

Ok, speaking of, time for some story to happen.

As a bonus Halloween treat I will be posting the first chapter of The Quiet City so you can finally dig into something.

Stay tuned, like and definitely follow so you can read it as so as it drops!

Thank you for reading!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

The Quiet City – post Thanksgiving catch up

A very special location

Happy belated Thanksgiving to other fellow Canadians. Just getting going again after a very busy weekend with not just cooking a turkey but also a wedding and getting ready for the Cookeilidh Celtic band’s next season.

Presently I am doing outlining of the remaining chapters. I had put this off as I wanted to let the book flow naturally from one section to the next but as I got to about Chapter three I realized that it wasn’t going to work.

There are lots of little parts and things that connect one person to another so you really have to map it out, so the train has stopped for a while as the tracks are being laid down. The book is presently sitting at just 34 pages which is still quite early and when I’m in transit I have done some reading and editing of that. My parents, who have always been my executive producers before have also gone over it and know the basic structure. My mom Joan Pogson is also working on a historical work about the “Scuzzy” which was a steamer that use to go up the Fraser River, through the Hell’s Gate Rapids, to deliver supplies to the miners.

Like I said before, this kind of thing runs in the family.

This is my Dad’s (Jim Pogson) book from his and his father’s (Roy Pogson) time in BC Hydro. My grandfather was head of BC Hydro for Vancouver Island and workled for the company back when they were the BC Electric company that also powered the streetcars.

Was studying more about those streetcars powered out of their station on the corner of Store Street and Pembroke and Discovery near the harbour. Eventually these cars did serve incoming passenger ships as well with signs saying “Downtown” prominently displayed on a front window .

You can definitely imagine the car emerging from the back entrance first thing in the morning to pick up commuters.

While some of my photos are admittedly shots from online there has been more and more actually going to locations to try to imagine how it all wouled work. I teased at some things going on around Johnson and Douglas on the book’s Instagram page and while I can’t say what I’m planning…

Douglas and Johnson

Interesting nearby alley

…I can say that that alley will have a connection and that in absolute honestly the intersection of Douglas and Johnson was the site of Victoria’s first graveyard.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge the bodies were moved to Pioneer Square on Quadra Street beside Christ Church cathedral.

There’s also other great locations worth checking out on foot such as…

the site of the David Spencer arcade before the fire of, you guessed it, 1910 and…

the Brown Jug saloon which almost to make up for it’s exciting, rough and ready history has turned into a very classy Birk’s jeweler’s.

The blogs are going to be more like this with letting you know little bits of where I’m at, with one final exception.

I will be releasing something very special at the end of the month so definitely stay tuned!

Anyways, back to work for me! Brewing more of my favorite tea, Tulsi ginger turmeric as it’s a wet day out there.

Have a great day yourself and thanks for catching up!

Please like and follow!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Beecher Bay

The Quiet City – the characters

On a fall morning in 1910 a Vital Statistics clerk was found with his neck broken inside the west tower of the Victoria, British Columbia legislative buildings…

And that was just for openers.

Developing characters and how they interact is the most important part of any work, from drama to comedy to even this kind of historical fiction. Two are based in modern day Victoria BC, the rest are in 1910.

Born : May 5th, 1887 Kingston

Government employee and veteran of the Boer War, he never left his standard of military excellence behind, or the thingas father told him about why they had to leave his hometown behind.

Born: Sept 1st, 1997

Having worked at the Royal BC museum as an archivist for a year, this 23 year old First Nations anthropologist came home one day to more than she bargained for.

Both born : October 31st 1870

Highly educated, not just in England but as far flung as the Al-Qarawiyyin libraries of Morocco, James and Penny are the illustrious fraternal twins with connections from royalty to architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Born : August 21st, Cridge home Victoria .

Daughter of Lekwungen mother Marie and French Canadian father Rene, Jenny tries to take care of her mother since father went missing. One day, taking care of everyone as the cheery nurse she was known to be, she met a very interesting man.

Born : November 13th, 1987, on a ferry.

Resident of Beecher Bay reservation and his own private retreat on southern Pender Island, to say Michael is an unusual man is an understatement. His strength with special gifts started very, very early in life, so much that he has found crowds too uncomfortable. He will soon have to face this head on.

Born : 1844 London, Whitechapel

Now the Sergeant at Arms for the British Columbia parliament buildings, Roger takes his role in security seriously. He doesn’t talk much about his life before he settled in Victoria.

Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading and supporting independent artists. Please follow as I get closer to my first The Quiet City teaser!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

“The Quiet City”, Behind the Scenes of a novel

Having done many years of work in bands and filmmaking projects, I love the idea of sharing the journey of a project. The art is how it’s jumbled together and smoothed into a work, but this is the slow moving factory. With something like this, set in actual history with fiction trying to run through it, it’s going to be huge. You have to return to your own notes regularly to keep it connected. You are connecting dots well outside of the storyline.

The scope of the full timeline starts in the 1880s and ends as recent as tomorrow. That’s a big factory floor.

Telegraph Bay, 1900

This was one of the reasons that The Quiet City had an earlier start approximately seven years back. At the time I was working as a cleaner and going to Uvic writing full time. One of the inspirations was being in some of those buildings like the Dunsmuir’s summer home that became the Fort Rodd Hill administration building. I also lived about a ten minute walk from this…

I wanted to include some of my favorite things about early Victoria such as the Victoria and Sidney Railway, the streetcars now gone with only slight remnants of their existence remaining as well as the birth of my own corner of town…Cook Street Village.

With about ten places to get coffee in two and a half blocks, Cook Street is a popular chill out part of Greater Victoria but before about 1909 it was a marshy dairy pasture to quote painter and writer Emily Carr. Incidentally Emily doesn’t make a personal appearance but she gets involved in the story along with a person who deserves a movie of his own…Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Anyways with these in mind the story was set in partly 1910 which set me off to every place that I could go, besides online to see and hear what it was like back then here…

Fort Street near Douglas. Yeah, I’m in the new Tim’s.

The image pictured about is at the Heritage Room of the Greater Victoria Public Library where I spent most time, but also the archives near the Museum where part of the story now takes place along with Victoria Archives, Saanich Archives and Sidney as well as the Royal BC Museum.

Back years ago I actually stopped to work on something else as I wanted this to have more time to actually focus on it. I want to make the details as accurate as possible as the stranger fiction needs a firm support. Not only that but it is fun to get the details. I was so excited by the Betty Bell’s book “This Fair land, Saanich” which goes into life in the Saanich Peninsula in fine detail as she lived there. That photo of myself reading is in the local history room (aforementioned Heritage Room) where so many treasures are hidden.

Even just wandering around Victoria can get your imagination going, whether it’s trying to find the hidden tunnels under the city or looking at houses in Fairfield.

There have been lots of little parts of the story that have been either created or effected by the research outside of just the setting which was of course very different and more languid than today’s pace.

Fitting in this perfectly was the often late Victoria and Sidney Railway that was that way due to its often late ferry connection, the Iroquois that could take you from the Pier in Sidney to Nanaimo.

Sadly this boat met its end a little ways after 1911 which didn’t help business for the Victoria and Sidney either, a train so underpowered that when it climbed northbound through Royal Oak towards Elk Lake, passengers could jump off, grab a beer from the nearby pub and hop back on without missing a beat.

But of course history was about more than just locations. There’s details on current events, fashion, and what it was like to live back then.

Above is a modern Government Street, but back then this wasn’t just the actual main drag, but actually the oldest street in Western Canada. If you wanted it, it was here with government offices on the west side of the road (your Post Office) and your green grocers, stores and pubs on the east side. The Brown Jug was a particularly famous one on the corner of Government and Fort, now a jewelry store.

And of course, the aforementioned world of paranormal and my very evil special guest, Jack the Ripper.

The legend and mystery of Jack and the canonical five victims has also been a major part of the story, so it naturally lead to going over any books and videos I could get my hands on. My take on the Ripper is very different from what’s been before and specific to this story so, without giving too much away I had to research some other things to compliment this.

Anyways that’s about it for now.

Thank you for reading and please follow so you can catch the next entry on the creation of this historical thriller. And definitely check out the writer page here at tompogson.com to see my other work, along with my music projects such as Cookeilidh.

Cheers!

Tom Pogson

Introducing “The Quiet City”

One day the world’s greatest killer came to town
Things would have to change.
When you’re Jack the Ripper in 1910 Victoria, British Columbia, you can easily stand out.

Such is the book project that I have been working on now solidly since spring of 2019, with the original idea for its historical fiction originating almost ten years back. It will be my first major project since being a writer on the Telus Optik webseries Ollie and Emma.

The Quiet City initially began as just a murder mystery set where my Mom use to work in the Vital Statistics offices of the Victoria Legislative Buildings West Annex. It was also first inspired by living in the heart of town and working as a cleaner in a variety of heritage buildings all over the Capitol Region. Was also a University of Victoria writing student at the time and been also playing with the idea of screenwriting at the time.

It didn’t hurt that my Grandfather, my Dad and now myself have an absolute love of going over what use to be where. My grandfather, Roy Pogson, was pretty much the head of BC Hydro on Vancouver Island and my Dad Jim was a service planner so not only did I get to see lots of new developing subdivisions as kid but I early on about the trains and streetcars that served Greater Victoria.

I don’t know exactly when I started humoring the idea of bringing in the more supernatural elements and Jack but once I did the floodgates just opened.

Not only was the rumor of Jack the Ripper in Victoria an actual theory based on a tragic and horrible murder of a 44 year old baker named Agnes Bing on the night of September 22, 1899, but the more I dug into strange things about Victoria the more it gave back.

It is Victoria’s paradox of being both this “more English than the English” (it’s background is actually Native, Scottish, French Canadian…the only Brit was Richard Blanshard who bailed instantly and died on the way home…anyways…) small town but it is also the second most active Satanic community in the world after Geneva with a thriving Wiccan community. We have secret tunnels, a Forbidden City, Michelle Remembers and above it all its a city that markets itself as quaint when it can be as quietly rough and tough as the worst of them. And it’s beautiful. And if was the other side of the world from the heart of the Commonwealth with Government Street as the oldest street in Western Canada. I love Victoria but it is a fascinating city of various types and contradictions all stuffed into the same community from the Malahat to the Ferries. It’s creative as hell, the center of seven First Nation bands, it’s the capital and a Naval base and a cruise ship destination.

Oh yeah and when it comes to spirits, legends and lore it continues to unfold.

For ghost activity, we are pretty much Woodstock.

This is the key reason why I’ve taken so long at this book of historical fiction which aims to be in both 1910 and present day. Being that I knew I would be taking huge liberties with actual history I have been spending just months on research as well on the more natural writerly challenge of characterization. Both of these have influenced the plot and continue to as I build the tracks in front of my train. Obviously some facts change but my job one is to be able to drop you the reader back into the sight, the sound and the pace of our city just after the turn of the century.

My goal is to have this out by summer of 2020 with some teasers and things before hand.

There is some social media for The Quiet City already which has more details…

http://facebook.com/thequietcitynovel

http://instagram.com/thequietcitynovel

http://twitter.com/thequietcity1

I will be updating here regularly as well as on those platforms so please follow and check back! Also check my “Writer” page for more about my other work!

I can’t wait to share more if this adventure with you!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Thank you for taking the time to read and support independent artists!

🙂