Carolyn Muir Helfenstein
About Carolyn Muir Helfenstein
Carolyn Muir Helfenstein has been a teacher in a one-room school teaching 5 grades for 2 years then 4 years of regular classes. She has been a farm wife for 25 years. She has been a co-owner, publisher, editor, sales rep of a community newspaper — the Teeswater News for 12 years; and has won various awards in journalism, etc. and sat on the Board of OCNA (Ontario Community Newspaper Association) for 8 years. She even ran ‘A Sleep In B and B’ for a dozen years. As an author she has two books to her credit; Why Not? and her recently released book, Rock Solid. She recently moved from Kincardine, Ontario to Cobourg to finally retire.
A memoir in black and white, Re 12 years of owning and running a small town newspaper. Published by Brucedale Press, 2008.
A creative non-fiction combining the vivid history of the British colony of Newfoundland in the 1800s and a fictional tale of love, adventure, struggle and humour, narrated by 8 of Helfenstein’s main Newfoundland characters. Edited by Harold Helfenstein. It is the result of wanting to understand what it is that happened to create the Newfoundlander’s unique identity. Published by FriesenPress, June 2018.
Press Release: August 4, 2018
Newfoundlander regains her identity writing Rock Solid
Helfenstein paints the sweeping landscape of historical Newfoundland with her saga of Newfoundland families in 1800s.
Carolyn (Muir) Helfenstein’s family left Newfoundland when she was a child of seven in 1944 and that huge move, and her father passing away suddenly two years later as they settled in Sarnia resulted in her losing the sense of identity that she would have developed growing up surrounded by Newfoundland relatives.
However, following the very early step into teaching first in a one-room school at age seventeen, she attended Teachers’ College, the challenge of guiding special needs students, a life-long marriage of now nearing 60 years, three children, and a bevvy of grandchildren. She and her husband ran a dairy farm for 25 years, ran a community newspaper for 12 years, and then in retirement ran a B and B for another 12 years and it was then she began writing, first a memoir called Why Not? published by Brucedale Press and most recently a much more challenging project.
She always wanted to regain that connection with Newfoundland, and it was a sudden idea one evening watching a setting sun that became a mission. She imagined that if she wrote a historical novel about Newfoundlanders, she would feel closer to the place of her birth. Would it work?
Her lovable characters in Rock Solid became the sum total of her writing and her research (including a three year research degree program at University of Waterloo graduating with a degree in Independent Studies in 2013). Her characters in Rock Solid are the narrators throughout the 372 pages.
“My characters were always standing at my shoulder nudging me along as I typed,” she tells the curious who wondered at her determination to finish her manuscript while others prefer to enjoy their senior years in more relaxing ways. “I worked on the manuscript for eight years to bring this saga of two founding families over three generations to an emotional conclusion. But now I feel satisfied, I know I am a Newfoundlander, the book did it!”
Rock Solid is filled with fact and fiction: passionate love, an unforgiving ocean, a city burning to the ground in 1846, and a delightful old man whose suggestion to the four young Newfoundland friends in the story, changes their lives forever. And with Rock Solid of course, Newfoundland humour abounds.
Helfenstein has painted a sweeping landscape of the life and times of those early settlers who never gave in to the struggles. They faced life on the rock and took great joy in identifying themselves as true Newfoundlanders. And still do.
She believes Newfoundlanders who still live on the island as well as those living across Canada and in USA will find some of their own life story in this novel that moves from Bell Island to Cape Spear to Brigus South and beyond. Her characters and their stories are rock solid.
Rock Solid can be ordered through local book stores and through Amazon.ca, amazon.com, and in USA through Barnes and Noble, Friesen Book Store.
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