Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Keeping a family promise in print

  • Print

After making a promise to her father, Oriele Vane Veldhuis faced one of the hardest tasks of her life — turning a large collection of diaries, letters and other papers into the story of her great-grandmother’s life.


For Elise: Unveiling the forgotten Woman on the Criddle Homestead is the result of Vane Veldhuis’ 10 years of work. After self-publishing 1,000 copies, she is down to her last 100, a testament to the compelling nature of this very personal biography of Elise Harrer Vane.


Vane Veldhuis spoke to Headingley 55 Plus Club members on Jan. 15 about the process she followed to research, write and publish her book.


A teacher and minister, Vane Veldhuis said she felt the need to tell the unknown story of her great-grandmother’s life after she accompanied her father when he placed a marker on Elise’s grave.


"My retirement goal was to find out about my great-grandma," said the 78-year-old author.


She knew little about German-born Elise who, with her five children, had emigrated from England as a housekeeper and nanny for Percy Criddle, his wife Alice and their children. In truth, Elise had once been engaged to Percy and he was the father of her children, a fact that Percy and Alice chose to ignore when the two families homesteaded near Shilo, Man., in 1882.


"It’s not a happy story," she said. "The situation was terribly dysfunctional."


Vane Veldhuis said her family had been raised to view Percy as an evil man, but by reading through his diary and examining other personal papers, her opinion gradually changed.


"It was only as I wrote the book that I accepted I had some of his genes."


She made a decision to stay as close to the truth as possible rather than writing a fictionalized version of her ancestors’ lives. Because of this decision, it was tougher for her to gain acceptance for her work.


She sought advice from the City of Winnipeg Public Library’s writers-in-residence, and one suggested that she not use excerpts from letters as they slowed down reading, while another advised that she pick a genre for her book.


"It wasn’t very encouraging," she recalled, but the feedback made her realize that she would have to self-publish her book rather than find a publisher.


Vane Veldhuis attributes her great-grandmother’s strength to her strong religious faith. Recognizing this, she is planning a special service in honour of Elise at  Augustine United Church in April.


She will also give a book reading at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library in April.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

This Just In Twitter bird

Readers‘ Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg Readers Survey

Make your choice in the Canstar Community News‘ Best of Winnipeg Readers‘ Choice Awards

Vote Now

Poll

Do you think cameras should be allowed in Manitoba courtrooms?

View Results