Reviews from

Kristen Hunt rated it it was amazing

A peek back in time from the raucous 30’s all the way to the mid-80’s “Through My Lens” offers a look into the life of 4 people who became intertwined during the great depression. We get a glimpse into the world of drug dealing, petty crime, and robbery and learn about the con man way of life.

“Through My Lens” is a love story of sorts, but also a powerful story of family, strife, adventure and nostalgia. Why not take a walk with Gwynne down to 358 Powell Street and meet Bohunk Marie, Gunvor, Ron 

Viki rated it really liked it.

Gwynne’s perspective on her family’s secrets was well presented and though I’ve been off reading from some time, I found I couldn’t put this one down. It’s an easy read although uncomfortable in spots with it’s raw revelations of those secrets. A definite must for your book shelf …moreflagLike  · comment · see review

C.J.rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2021

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Review of Through My Lens

THROUGH MY LENS by Gwynne Hunt

Review by Elma Schemenauer

When Gwynne Hunt was 69, she discovered that her biological father wasn’t Ronald Robinson, as she had always thought. He was Harold Larsen. In her biographical book THROUGH MY LENS, she tells the stories of her stepfather, her father, her mother—Gunvor Berglund—and many people in their lives.

The book spans the years from the 1920s into the early 1980s, and takes place in parts of Ontario and Western Canada, especially British Columbia. It explores aspects of the Great Depression, military service, poverty, unstable families, alcoholism, and crimes ranging from shoplifting to forgery to drug dealing and scams of various kinds.

The three parents Hunt portrays in the book all came from church backgrounds, but rejected religious influences as they grew up. Though they often behaved in ways that were not admirable, honest, or morally upright, their story held my attention from beginning to end.

Hunt is a strong writer with good insights into personality and character. Examples:

-“Ron and Marie never settled into a happily married life. The two of them never settled into anything.”

-“She did not feel like the girl who grew up on the farm anymore, with morals and love in her heart.”

-“He turned every life experience into something grander than it was.”

-“He knew he had not lived up to his potential as a man, a husband, or a father.”

I’m interested in history so I especially appreciate Hunt’s historical references and insights. Examples:

-“During World War I he was a pigeon keeper, helping the war effort with training homing pigeons.”

-Regarding the Great Depression: “They were not all that sad about going to jail; three squares a day.”

-Regarding after-effects of military service: “He still had nightmares from the war. Harold never really knew how to reach out for help, not for his drinking and not for his trauma suffered during World War II.”

-“When they all started smoking, it was portrayed as glamorous and harmless.”

Sometimes I wish the author had written in a more chronological way, for example, when recounting the events of Gunvor’s earlier years. Occasionally I wasn’t sure what was happening, for example, regarding some scams the characters perpetrated. On the whole though, I enjoyed THROUGH MY LENS and recommend it. The newspaper clippings reproduced at the end are a nice addition.

Elma (Martens) Schemenauer is the author of 70-plus books published in Canada and the United States. One is YESTERCANADA: HISTORICAL TALES OF MYSTERY AND ADVENTURE. Another is the 1940s-era Saskatchewan Mennonite novel CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS. Both are published by Borealis Press of Ottawa. Her website is .

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Coming Soon!

Though My Lens has been shipped and should arrive within the week. for an etransfer of $24 plus shipping (depending on where you live $12 to $18)

Visit my Youtube channel to see a book trailer and preview of the book.

Google gwynnehunt and click on Videos

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Review of Unlocking the Tin Box

Review by Jannett Dunnett author of The Dwindling

Midway through this romp through time, from the 60’s to the edge of the book’s publication in 2019, the author’s sister states what I think this book is about. “It isn’t all about Maggie and Maggie’s world.”

But her sister is wrong. It is about Maggie’s world. And this is what makes the book such a compelling read. Its structure is stream of consciousness. We first encounter Maggie as a five year old, luring suckers to her carnie father’s fixed game of chance. The book ends with her reflections on being a grandmother and her way ahead on the brink of being 70. References to history season the story. The Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam War, the Beatles, the summer of love, and BC’s missing women reality are waypoints to orient the reader in time.

In this book, the reader can’t help but cheer for this preschooler, teenager, young mom, middle aged wife, and finally a senior, fighting for her right to make her own mistakes. Growing up in a hardscrabble BC family with two drunken parents, so poor that one Christmas the only food in the house was a can of spaghetti, Maggie evolves as she matures, always trying to do better than what was done to her.

Though the title, Unlocking the Tin Box, refers to artifacts from her father’s life, this story line is just one of many in this 400 page deeply detailed narrative. All the vignettes are strongly rooted in place. Whether in Vancouver, Kamloops, Hope, Terrace, Prince George, Los Angeles and ultimately on Vancouver Island. We feel the discomfort of these “dumps” on the other side of the tracks in vivid descriptions, like how one home was heated with burning tires.

I would have liked more reflection on this technicolor life. When it comes though, it is juicy. “I think dad was running away from his failures” , she says as she contemplates her nomadic childhood. Her child self sees her mother’s drinking through a lens of comfort, “mother’s best friend was a guy named Johnnie Walker”. She’s obsessed with the excitement of hitchhiking, and accepts her sexual exploitation and close calls with rape with the offhand comment “I never expected a good outcome when I was alone with a man”. Was her blasé attitude to sex, “it that all there is?” a result of her experiences, or did it make her vulnerable to abuse? The reader must decide. But the thread of her approach to life that makes this book come alive, comes from her father’s mantra, “If you’re ever getting run out of town…get out in front and pretend it’s a parade”.

I loved this book. It feels true. It deeply engages. It’s Canada’s answer to the best selling American memoir, The Glass Castle. And it deserves the same acclaim.

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Through My Lens takes a look back through the depression, the second world war and into the eighties by examining newspaper accounts. Gwynne has woven a fictional story linking the newspaper clippings together. There was an unsettling past, she knew that, what she did not know was the shocking stories that she would find through her research. Her stepfather who she grew up believing was her real father was a murder suspect, a drug dealer, a vagrant and a thief. In 1947 the largest drug deal to ever hit the West Coast involved her stepfather, his wife and stepson. In later years his ex-wife was called the Big Boss of Powell Street. Everyone knew Marie Robinson. Through family accounts and detailed written stories, she found out her real father was from Standard, Alberta. Her father had Great-Uncles; one who was a famous artist and one who was a world traveler and explorer bringing back rare seeds from Russia and China. Her mother had always told her to be ‘careful what you wish for’, she should have reminded her that she might not like what she found. Her mother rebelled from a strict upbringing and religion and after the loss of seven children went down a path that led her to alcoholism. Somehow the three of them; her mother Gunvor, her stepfather Ron and her real father Harold stumbled together. It is a true story with lots of fictional accounts. Gwynne Hunt THROUGH MY LENS Silver Bow Publishing $23.95, on amazon or it can be purchased through Gwynne at $24 plus shipping

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New Events

Island Writers; Gwynne Hunt and Joan Donaldson-Yarmey have teamed up through the group W.O.W. (women on writing) to do some presentations this October/November.  Gwynne says, “There must be a need for women writers to come together because I posted the Facebook group W.O.W. and within 3 days had 45 members. One women is from Greece.  The idea behind the collective of writers is to share ideas, markets, tips and give them a place to promote their books.”

Joan and Gwynne are the first two writers to do presentations and hope that other writers will be inspired to see the benefits of cost sharing and promotions.  Joan is the author of four mystery novels, three Canadian historical novels, a holiday romance and seven non-fiction travel books.  She has participated on mystery panels in Alberta and B.C.; Crime Writers Bloody Words in Victoria and When Words Collide in Calgary.

Gwynne recently published Unlocking the Tin Box with Silver Bow Publishing in New Westminster and is the author of three other books; The Adventures of Bob & Boo (a children’s book), bruises & bad haircuts (poetry) and rampage:the pathology of an epidemic, a grassroots look at missing and murdered women and children in Canada. Gwynne taught Creative & Freelance Writing at the University of the Fraser Valley for more than ten years (adult ed) and has been an activist, writer, director, producer.

During their presentations Gwynne will talk about Storytelling and Traditions and Joan will explore how to find ideas and writing mystery novels.  They will be at the Cowichan Community Centre,2687 James Street, Duncan, October 26 from 1-4 PM. For more info on W.O.W. contact

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New Reading and presentation of Storytelling & Traditions

Friday, November 1, 2-4 PM  Vancouver Island Regional Library 6250 Hammond Bay Rd, Nanaimo, BC Storytelling & Traditions Storytelling is one of the earliest forms of folk-art.  Some stories are gathered, adapted from books or imaginative live theatre. Gwynne Hunt explores the art and the journey in this two hour workshop that includes a reading from her new book, hand outs on ‘getting started’ and discussion. W.O.W. (women on writing) “inspiring writers through sharing”  250-731-8770
Coming up WOW (Woman on Writing); a new collective of woman writers sharing their experience and wisdom. Saturday October 26 in Cowichan @ the Community Centre 1-4 PM ($12). To book in advance contact the above email. Also, Nov 16 at the Old Church Theatre in Courtenay-for details and to book a seat. (above)
Gwynne Hunt will present Storytelling & Traditions and do a short reading from her book and mystery writer Joan Donaldson Yarmey will present  Where to Find Inspiration for Writing Mystery Novels and How To Expand on That.    

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New Book-Unlocking the Tin Box

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Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival Booking Fast . . .a few spots left for Delicious Fringe-a-licious!

June19,20,21,22 at the Capitol Theatre and the Bavarian Centre in Port Alberni!

Bitt’s of Tease Cabaret, Zelda;the last flapper, Summer in the City, the Mad Hatter, the Human Body Project; plus shows about clowns, bullying, women’s rights, one person chronicles and more! Sign your child up for the Twoonie Talent Show-no age limit, all children receive a prize-$2 to see the show!

One of the Fringe Benefits of becoming a Fringe Follower is discounts on Fringe Food, Free ticket to our fund raising art show and a FREE Fringe Buck to be used to see a show. You also get a fringe bug badge worth more discounts in the community. Become a member today for only $10-renewable every year for only $5 once you join.

Contact Gwynne at Fringe Central-the Main Artery, 4969 Argyle Street


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Fringe 2014 new application

Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

2014 Application Form

Main Stage Productions: plays, film, dance, music, stand-up comedy, performance art, etc


Contact Name:








Postal code______________________________________






Alternate contact name:____________________________________________________




Name of Company:_________________________________________


Show Title:________________________________________________


Author/Playwright/Originator (circle one)   Name:____________________________




Number in cast?_______________________Is this a new work?__________________


Do you have production rights to this show?__________________________________


Note: All shows require permission to perform from the author or playwright. You are responsible for payment of royalty fees, if applicable .SOCAN fees if applicable.

Type of Show: (circle one)


comedy           dance              drama              mime               musical            storytelling

performance art                     poetry             other______________________________






Rating: (check one)


(   )   family (suitable for children)

(   )   general (suitable for all ages)

(   )   parental guidance (limited swearing, violence or mature subject)

(   ) mature audiences (may contain coarse language, violence, sexually explicit)


Additional warning note:______________________________________________


Please briefly describe (on a separate sheet of paper):

What is the show about?

Why should someone come and see it?

Who is in it?


Circle the applicable time slot below


Capitol Theatre (Main Stage)

Running time(less than 50 minutes for cost of $200 for two shows)

One one-hour time slot for a 50 minute or less performance is $125.

1 ½ hour time slots are $150 for one show/ $300 for two shows


Children’s afternoon plays or shows for children $75 (any length)(Main Stage or Bavarian Centre)


Available at the Bavarian Centre only

Storytelling, stand-up, one person shows less than 45 minutes are $75 per show at our second venue (Bavarian Centre)

Bands are $100 per show at the Bavarian Centre (175 seat venue)

15 to 20 minute performance art pieces, slam poetry, singer/songwriters are $50 per show and held at the Bavarian Centre.


All venues are equipped with basic light and sound. Basic lights mean lights up, lights down, spot light and washes.  Additional requirements are the responsibility of the performing company.  All time slots come with an hour to an hour and a half tech – what suits your show.


This application must be submitted with a $100 non-refundable payment by March 14, 2014 for all live performances.  (30 minute shows deposit $50)

Live show production ticket sales:  Tickets are $4-$10 for children’s shows, one man shows $5-$10, one act plays $10-$15, bands $8-$12. q ½ hour shows can charge up to $ 15 only.Performing company takes 100% but Art Matters provides the tickets and box office services.







Make all cheques payable to Art Matters Society and mail to:

                                                            Gwynne Hunt

Artistic Director


3652 15 Avenue, Port Alberni, BCV9Y 5C6


Phone 250-723-7883

Box Office 250-723-3331 matters




Board of Directors:


President                                  David Hunt

Technical Director


Secretary/Treasurer                  Gwynne Hunt

Artistic Director

            Directors: Judith Reeves, Sarah Louise Bunda




June 20, 21, 22 2014


General information and application form


The Alberni Valley Fringe Theatre Festival is an unjuried festival. It is a chance for artists to present new works, remount a production, stage a classic or give expression to a blend of forms and ideas that challenge traditional formats.  

Application forms are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, accompanied by a $100 non-refundable deposit by Match 14, 2014.

All applications must be in by April 30, 2014 to secure a spot!

However, early applications will be given a spot as soon as they have paid the $100 application.  The earlier the better.


Performances will be scheduled between 7 PM and 10 PM Friday, 1 PM and 10 PM Saturday, Sunday 1 PM to 8 PM Sunday.



 Main stage seating is 220.   All sets must be struck within 10 minutes of the show finish. Each show will be equipped with a technical director responsible for light and sound considerations, and front of house volunteer staff.  Each production company should provide a person to hand out programs and liaison with front of house( but not necessary) However, you must have your own backstage help.

Bavarian Centre is a 175 seat venue with lights and sound included in the venue rental.

This will also serve as a food court/gathering place for performers after hours and pre-show gathering spot.


Box Office:

Art Matters is responsible for box office operations. All Tickets at the Main Artery, 4969 Argyle Street. Fringe Headquarters. Patrons may buy tickets in advance or at the venue. All monies collected will be deposited in the bank and performing companies will be sent a cheque within seven days. A pass is given to all cast and crew from all performing companies to attend any of the shows complimentary. Priority seating is given to ticket holders. There will be a $1 service charge on all tickets that are sold using a debit/credit machine at the Main Artery.


Ticket Prices:

The ticket price is $4-$15 depending on show type and location. A maximum of 10 tickets per production may be allocated by V.V.F.T.F. at no charge to media and festival sponsors. Performing companies may request complimentary tickets for their show only for promotion, sponsors, media, other guests, or for advance sales. 


Performing companies are responsible for the following:

You are responsible for all aspects of your production including special technical and set needs, cast, production personnel, and a stage crew if set-up and takedown is necessary. A stage manager is recommended. If sound or light cues are extensive or complicated, you are required to supply at least one technician. If you require numerous light changes and different coloured spots you may be charged a small fee.  For your convenience you should provide your own person to hand out programs and liaison with front of house.



You are required to promote your own shows, through the use of posters, handbills, advertising, media releases, photographs. Participants should understand that although AVFTF does general publicity each show is responsible for the promotion of their own show.  We do offer a $50 postering program-we will post 50 posters for that cost(various locations around the Island)  or $10 for 12 around town only.


Port Alberni By-Law Note:

Performing companies will be expected to abide by municipal laws and are required to save Art Matters Society and A.V.F. T.F. harmless in case of any violation.

The Festival is not responsible for improper signage, graffiti or garbage left by the individual companies.


























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