Dave Godfrey: ‘go get ’em’

Dave Godfrey, known in the Cowichan Valley as the genial owner of Godfrey Brownell Vineyard, was a figure who cast a wide shadow.

He died June 21, after a short bout with pancreatic cancer.

Himself an author who snagged a Governor-General’s award for his book, The New Ancestors, using his experience as a student working in Africa for background, Godfrey was also a founder of three publishing houses, including the respected House of Anansi and published the work of such authors as Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje, giving what he considered a much-needed plaform to Canadian authors.

A special blog post on the House of Anansi website includes a tribute to Godfrey: "In 1967, David Godfrey approached Dennis Lee to talk about his poems while both were teaching at the University of Toronto. Once Dave had read the full collection he was determined to publish them. As Dennis remembers it, Anansi really started life as a ‘one shot’ enterprise the sole purpose of which was to publish Dennis’ collection, Kingdom of Absence. In a recent conversation Dennis told me he ‘admired Dave’s literary judgement’ and felt he couldn’t turn Dave down because he was so enthusiastic.

"When they went to print they realized that it would be good to have the name of a publisher on the spine of the book. They spent a couple of hours mulling over a name. Dave had been travelling and teaching in Ghana with CUSO, where he encountered Anansi tales. Naming the press House of Anansi, after an African spider god, and a trickster to boot, seemed the right thing to do!

"And the rest is history. Well, not quite. It all could have ended there if it weren’t for Dave’s ‘go get ’em attitude.’ Dennis recalls Dave’s tremendous energy, and that he was really a force of nature.

"He had ‘no fear of jumping off the deep end.’ And so they pushed forward with their first full list in the fall of 1967, which consisted of four titles. The first was a reissue of Kingdom of Absence (they had spelled Anansi with an e instead of an i in the first edition!), followed by The Absolute Smile, a first collection of poetry by George Jonas, and a first collection of short fiction by David Godfrey called Death Goes Better with Coca-Cola, the first work of fiction on Anansi’s first publishing list!

"And according to Dennis, it was Dave’s idea to get in touch with Margaret Atwood to see if she would be willing to have Anansi reissue her Governor General’s Award-winning collection of poetry, The Circle Game, which was the fourth and final book on the list. And Anansi’s first offices in Toronto were housed in the basement of David and his wife Ellen Godfrey’s home at 671 Spadina Avenue, just up the road from our present location."

Godfrey and his wife, also an acclaimed writer, eventually relocated to Victoria where, among many other things, they moved into the field of software development for distance learning, making a significant name for themselves before eventually selling out and retiring to a vineyard in Glenora, where they played a quiet but vital role in making Cowichan into one of Canada’s promising new wine regions.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Cowichan branch is looking for volunteers to help conduct a 50/50 draw at Sunfest on Thursday and Friday July 30-31, with partial proceeds going to the Society.

The volunteers are needed to help sell tickets for the draw. Volunteers will work in pairs at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds, and must be 19 years of age or older. Training will be provided on use of a pointof-sale machine.

For more information contact Carolyn Cade or Corinna Adams at 1-800-663-7892 ext 226 or virvolunteerengage@bc.cancer.ca or Margaret Davis at 250-749-3869 or meqdavis@gmail.com

Growing Together Child and Parent Society, serving young parents and their children in the community for over 20 years, through child care and parent support, celebrated the retirement of long-time Executive Director Kathy Payne.

Volunteer Cowichan recently hosted their Cowichan Valley Helping Hands volunteer (25-plus) recognition event during their annual general meeting.

"This annual event recognizes those individuals that provide their Helping Hands and volunteer in their own special way to make our community a better place to live," said Volunteer Cowichan’s Anne-Marie Koeppen.

"Its all about the nomination as everyone is a ‘winner’ and most especially the communities they serve.

MP Jean Crowder and her mother handed out certificates of appreciation from the House of Commons to 10 people: Gord Clark, Marilyn Clark, Martha Fraser, Jennifer Lazenby, Monique Lapointe, Donna Brooks, Kitty Johnsen and Cathy Lafrance. Julia Ellison and Beth Caskey were unable to attend.

During the month of June, golf professionals played from sunrise to sunset to support those living with ALS. On June 30 Andrew Hager and Jan Best from Mount Brenton Golf Course in Chemainus golfed a collective 252 holes in just 12 and a half hours during the Golfathon for ALS.

Proceeds from the Golfathon go to support services for ALS patients and research to find a cure.