Writer shares tales of Growing up Weird in Oak Bay

The scent of blooming gorse and the distant sound of foghorns brings Crofton author Liz Forbes back to her childhood in Oak Bay.

They are fond memories, even if unusual, and she shares them with the world in her book Growing Up Weird, A Memoir of an Oak Bay Childhood. She shared these stories, and some unpublished ones, with residents as part of the Marion Cumming Lecture Series hosted by the Oak Bay Heritage Foundation.

“I’m excited that at 84 I’m being asked to give a speaking engagement. I love it, we’re never too old to do what we want to do,” Forbes said in a phone interview.

Forbes began writing after his retirement, with several history columns in Nakajima’s publications and excerpts in books.

“I started writing fiction and it didn’t work for me,” she said. “I used to entertain people with stories about my family, enough to make them laugh, so I started writing them.”

About a decade later, she decided to bring the stories together into one book, and Oak Bay Memoir hit the shelves of The Ivy Bookstore in 2017.

She has written a second book, called River Stories: Stories of My Cowichan Years, and is already working hard to capture the next chapter of her life.

She read and added unpublished stories she would tell in her presentation, focusing on everyday life, different families and the shenanigans of being a Monterey school student.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I think the exciting part is I love memoirs, I read memoirs, and I love learning about other people’s lives. It’s better if they’re not famous because you can relate more,” she said explain.

While it’s been hard to pinpoint a favorite read these days, she plans to pick up her first book by Oak Bay author Faye Pattapiece, who has written and published her work at age 92.

“I love reading Anny Scoones. She’s really my inspiration…she’s all over the place and I can follow it. I love it,” Forbes said of the prolific Victorian author.

In addition to sharing Oak Bay’s historical perspective, Forbes hopes to spark enthusiasm for memoir and inspire others to write their own stories.

“Getting older is really a privilege, you get to be who you are. People want to hear your story — and I think that’s amazing.”

The Oak Bay Heritage Foundation event will be held at the Windsor Park Pavilion on April 26th at 7pm. The event is free, donations accepted. Visit oakbayheritagefoundation.ca to learn more.

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