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Author hears the mountain calling in memoir

Local author, singer songwriter writes his memoir I Hear the Mountain Calling.

“So my dad told us ‘go outside and play because the stork is about to bring a baby,” Clarence Boudreau said, talking about one of his favourite stories he shares in his memoir I Hear the Mountain Calling.

He was about eight years old and he had his younger brother Jack and older brother Joey with him.

“Well, we put our heads together and we decided we really wanted to have a look at this dude so we covered all the entrances and the chimney. We were standing out there waiting and waiting and all of a sudden we heard a baby cry in the house but no stork - we didn’t know any different - we believed that and we thought is that ever a slippery cuss, you know? He got by us going in and out of there!”

That’s the day his baby sister June was born.

This is one of the many stories included in Boudreau’s book filled with 90 years of history. Boudreau spent 80 years living in the village of Penny, about 120 km east of Prince George, before moving to the big city of Prince George 10 years ago. His passion for the great outdoors saw Boudreau spend much of his life hiking the alpine whenever he could.

“I spent a lot of time watching the grizzlies playing up there,” Boudreau said.

Many people often ask Boudreau about big changes he’s seen during the years and one of the most popular queries is about the changes he’s seen in the weather.

Without a doubt, Boudreau’s got the perfect story to demonstrate how drastically the snowfall has decreased over the decades.

Here’s his example and Boudreau said you be the judge.

“One winter all the fence posts were covered,” he began. “One day I looked out the window and there was a hat going along the snow. I thought that can’t be and I looked and all of a sudden it came up a little bit and there was a head. So I opened the door and I hollered ‘what are you doing?’ The guy said’ I’m just exercising my horse’!”

Let that sink in.

That’s right. The snow was so high all Boudreau could see was the top of a rider on a horse.

“Now that’s pretty deep snow,” Boudreau laughed.

In his book he shares these and other stories about his life in Penny with family and friends, the endless alpine hikes to watch the grizzlies at play and enjoy his time in the mountains.

Clarence started work at 15 as a flunky in a cookhouse, then moved into logging by hand with a crosscut saw, working in a sawmill, then as a cattle rancher, snow plow contractor to keep the roads around Penny clear and bridge builder including a 400-foot ice bridge across the Fraser River.

“I never built an ice bridge before but I figured it out - it worked,” Boudreau said.

He even managed a salmon hatchery for a while.

The best thing he’s learned is the sun will shine tomorrow and that’s a pretty good description of Boudreau’s disposition. He brings along the sunshine wherever he goes.

Boudreau finally did what everyone around him kept telling him to do and wrote I Hear the Mountain Calling and it’s out now on Amazon and available at Books & Co. and the Central Interior Railway and Forestry Museum.

People might best know Boudreau by his other name Penny Slim, singer songwriter and entertainer to the masses. His Facebook page, that has more than 17,000 followers, is filled with his original songs performed at home during the pandemic.

Those videos look like they were a lot easier to manage than writing a book.

To make the writing process bit simpler Boudreau used his iPad recording feature that transfers audio file to text. Friend Tracy Brown helped get it print ready along with help from his family members wife Olga, daughter Maxine St. Amand and son Dan Boudreau.

But the experience wasn’t without its hiccups like the time he talked for an hour but left the recording feature on for 24 hours.

“I’m 90 years old, you know,” Boudreau laughed.

Boudreau will be at the Central Interior Railway and Forestry Museum for a book signing July 24 at 10 a.m.

Visit Boudreau's Facebook page at Clarence Boudreau aka Penny Slim to hear him sing his original songs.