Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aubrey Kerr 1915-2008

Over the years you talk to a lot of people about Canadian history. Beaver columns, commissioned projects, documentaries, book ideas, even this web thingee. Lots of those conversations never come to anything that is published, and the memory just fades.

I cannot remember why I was once talking on the phone with Aubrey Kerr, except I must have been looking for some info on Alberta's oil industry history, and the path led to him. I remember it was easy to tell he was no bookish scholar. He'd clearly come to the history of Alberta oil straight from the rigs and the test holes.

He'd written, he told me, a series of books on the big Alberta discoveries post-1947. Those books are unknown to Chapters and Amazon today, and library catalogues suggest they (Leduc, Redwater, etc.) were mostly self-published efforts. I can see him being too independent to worry about publishing. ("Hell, why worry with all those desk-jockey literary types? I can run a printing press myself.")

But I got the strong impression he had done the work. He spoke of a mass of oral history interviews with the principals, and it certainly seemed he knew things.

Noticed his obit the other day -- he was 92, and damn right, he was there at the blow-in.
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