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Chasing the Comet

A Scottish-Canadian Life

Patricia Koretchuk

Life Writing Series

Paper 261 pp.

ISBN13: 978-0-88920-407-2

Release Date: April 2002

Online discount: 25%

$24.99  $18.74


eBook availability

“Dour Scot” is the wrong description for David Caldow, who leads readers on a romp from the early twentieth century to the present, from an insular Scottish village to modern-day, multicultural British Columbia, from boyhood to old age. Throughout the tour he shares decades of laughter, tears, fears, and growth.

In 1910, the certain path of David’s life in Scotland is disrupted by the visit of an awe-inspiring comet. This brilliant visitor inspires the boy to dream of circling the world, like the comet, even though his life’s goal is to become a farm manager, like his father. As a young man seeking to fulfill his dreams, he travels to Canada and works his way from Quebec to British Columbia, guided by the lessons of his father and his memories of Scotland.

During his travels he grows in his understanding of himself, of the nature of love, of the ways of the world and its peoples, and of the poetry of Robert Burns. As a worker for the Farmer’s Institute and as farm manager for Colony Farm and Tranquille, two extensive BC government-owned farms, David contributes to raising the standards of Canadian agriculture. At seventy years old, he broadens the scope of his world even further, accepting a two-year Canadian federal-government position teaching farming in Tanzania.

Chasing the Comet is a true story that reads like fiction. David’s candour and his Scottish humour help him survive and thrive. In the book’s epilogue, David ponders the meaning of all his years of living, addressing questions such as: What is love? What is success? And how does one achieve them?

David Caldow lived an active life in Surrey, British Columbia until his death at the age of ninety-six.

Patricia Koretchuk’s life has been infused with immigration. Toronto born, she moved with her British immigrant parents to British Columbia when she was eleven. Her husband is a Ukrainian Canadian. This background produced a curiosity about the motivation to immigrate and its benefits to Canadian society. The result has been a series of stories on immigration, culminating in this book.


“A well-written piece, accessible to the general reader but with a thoughtful introduction that would make this a good selection for an undergraduate life-writing class. There is much for discussion here: the use of dialogue, the effect that a female ‘ghost’ might have on a male voice, the effect of Scottish sensibility on Canadian culture, what it meant to be a ’man’ in the pre-corporate world.”

— Janice Dickin, The Canadian Historical Review

“It is the pioneer spirit, hard work, determination and strength of will that has shaped Canada, and David Caldow deserves to rest with the best...[I] thoroughly enjoyed every word.”

— Sheila Gair, BC retired teachers’ Fall Bulletin

“This book is part of the Life Writing Series, a most commendable project sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University Press to promote autobiographical accounts of lives in Canada. Chasing the Comet tells such a story, adding to the reservoir of social histories which will enrich our knowlege of Canada and its people.”

— Ron Sutherland, British Columbia Historical News