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  • Works of HeART Project

Author Catherine Dook - Unconventional, Unreserved, Undaunted

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

I lived on an old barge in Cowichan Bay when I first met Arctic-born author and teacher, Catherine Dook. I was intrigued by this amusing, unpretentious woman who oozed wit and optimism. Catherine and her husband John welcomed me immediately onto their sailboat and into the quirky, yet lovable, dockside family of ‘Mottle Cove’; the alias she created for her hilariously candid novels, based on her perilous liveaboard adventures. Ironically, she had never even seen a sailboat until she tied the nautical knot with ‘John Darling’ – her endearing reference for the man with whom she fell in love, over twenty years ago, in the boondocks of Nunavut.


Catherine Dook - Author - and husband - 'John Darling'

Inscribed ‘neath the flicker of a kerosene lantern, Catherine’s books reflect their creator - unconventional, unreserved and undaunted. Although dedicated to making people laugh, she has survived many a hardship which, instead of self-pity, she has chosen to use as facetious fodder for her novels. A friend describes her approaching life’s challenges with “grit, sand, vinegar and humour.” In an email, Catherine writes about a fellow she invited onboard for tea…


“You farm sheep, don't you?’ I asked him. ‘Yup.’ he said. ‘The ewes are no good when they get older, though. The udders give out.’ I sat across the main saloon from him with a case of breast cancer, trying not to choke on my tea. I managed to hold it in until after he left but, bless his heart, it was the best laugh I’d had all week.” It is no wonder she was nominated three times for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.


When it comes to helping others, Catherine’s humility prevents her from grandstanding. But she shares some advice; “A small thing can make a difference, and if that is all you can manage, then do it. A kind word, an ‘I’ve been there’ acknowledgement, a jar of rhubarb-ginger jam, a toque at Christmas, a bundle of second-hand baby clothes for a new baby, a story told with humour.” I happen to know that she has done all these things, including knitting accessories for the needy and extending a hand to strangers...


"My sister and I are from the Seattle area and we met Catherine when we sailed up to the Gulf Islands and stopped at Cowichan Bay. We had read her articles in a NW sailing subscription and looked her up. We were looking for a knit shop and she offered to drive us (perfect strangers) since we were car-less. I’ll never forgot her humor and kindness. She had just gone thru breast cancer treatment so her upbeat attitude was an inspiration for me when I went thru a similar experience a few years later. We have bought her books and kept in touch ever since that visit.”


Catherine Dook - Author - Steering the Dook's sailboat - the 'Inuksuk'

A friend shares,“Catherine’s self-effacing style serves to prick the balloon of ANYONE trying to ‘put on airs’. We are all human beings. It matters not how rich or poor we are, we are all in this together… you could say Catherine is the ultimate EQUALIZER.” I wish to add, “and a force to be reckoned with.” She’s a heroine in my books.


Speaking of books, you will not want to miss reading hers. They are delightful. Her website: catherinedook.com

Catherine is also the author of three brand new children's books - the 'Jessica series'. They 'explore the misspent childhood' of a young girl named ‘Jessica’ who grew up in an Arctic village which Catherine, herself, actually did. She comments, "The books are strictly fiction, but to be safe, I got my parents to agree to not sue me."


I had written to some of Catherine's friends to ask for more details about her. I received several, wonderful replies. Here is one of them...


"I hired Catherine to be a teacher in Nunavut, many years ago. And our friendship has blossomed since then. I don't think Catherine will mind me saying that, sometimes, her life has not been easy. But she has always faced her challenges (fouled anchors, dishonest rental tenants, health crises, overflowing bilges, snagged knitting needles, empty crab pots, recalcitrant students, procrastinating publishers, slippery docks, dead engines, gales and hurricanes) with courage and humour. She is like the energizer bunny. Whenever she encounters an obstacle, she forges ahead with determination, enthusiasm, joy, optimism, imagination and love. With John at her side. Truly a wonderful woman and an inspiration to all who know her."


Her stepson, Rupert writes,


"Catherine was very happy to meet all of my dad's kids, as there are five of us. Catherine loves knitting socks and sweaters for all of us. She has been very kind and loving to us and worked with my father on making their future more comfortable. She is funny and always has interesting stories to tell. I am happy that she and my dad found each other. She is smart and good with her money. I wish she was with my dad longer."


Be sure to check out Catherine's website, find her books and follow her newsy, entertaining blog at: catherinedook.com I, myself, am a proud owner of a few of her books and often catch myself laughing out loud while reading them. I get a few funny looks, but that's okay.