Newspaper clippings inspire novel

Mel McIlveen with his latest writings, Treachery and Treason in Canada’s Sealing Fleet, inspired by the tales of a real sealing captain. - Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff
Mel McIlveen with his latest writings, Treachery and Treason in Canada’s Sealing Fleet, inspired by the tales of a real sealing captain.
— image credit: Christine van Reeuwyk/News staff

Newspaper clippings fill a drawer in Mel McIlveen’s desk.

His head overflows with stories of historical families. At least one outstanding member of Victoria’s history, has inspired him to write.

The inking of Treachery and Treason in Canada’s Sailing Fleet, McIlveen’s latest novel, started 20 years ago, with a story he wrote for his Esquimalt writing group’s book Beyond the Blue Bridge. The Central Saanich senior based that tale on Victor Jacobson — after a fellow writer suggested he write about a large house on the shore of West Bay. “It’s a tall white house with a cupola on top,” McIlveen said. Victor, based on a real-life Victoria sealing captain, has germinated many stories since.

“He told so many stories. So I wrote this book about him,” McIlveen said. “The stories he told were published in the papers and the rest came from my imagination.”

Treachery and Treason follows Victor Aland in conquests in love, court and at sea.

“I like the way I’ve discussed the seal hunt, because it’s really honest,” he said. “It was quite an industry.”

McIlveen enjoys the art of developing his characters.

“They’re mostly people I’d like to be,” he said with a grin.

“The thing I like best was the final confrontation in court,” he said. “I enjoy that, because I love to characterize the various people in court.”

The lawyer for Victor is depicted as a “smart little Frenchman” while opposing counsel “thought he was smart and wasn’t.”

This is the fourth book the Central Saanich senior has written.

“The first one was a bit of a disaster,” McIlveen said, noting his improvement over the years. “This is the last thing I’ll ever write. I’m 89.”

Treachery and Treason in Canada’s Sailing Fleet is available at Tanner’s Books.

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