Surrey artist and author Ernie Faessler shows his latest book

Surrey artist and author Ernie Faessler shows his latest book

Penning pioneer tales

Surrey’s Ernie Faessler releases new book of stories and artwork, with proceeds being donated to cancer research.

It’s been three-and-a-half years in the making, but Ernie Faessler is the proud author of a second book.

Faessler, who turns 89 at the end of the month, has recently published Incredible Pioneer Stories, a collection of about two dozen tales from the longtime Surrey resident’s childhood through to his adult years. Each is accompanied by a painting by Faessler, many of them barns from across the province which are no longer standing, preserved only in his artwork.

Most of the short stories come straight from Faessler’s razor-sharp memory and others are as they were told to him by family friends.

One, titled Canine Emergency Run, is Faessler’s favourite and took place when he was about eight or nine years old. It details the story of a trapper who was badly injured and alone in a remote cabin in winter. In desperation, he attached a note to his beloved dog and then whipped him and told him to “go home” in hopes that someone would then come looking for him. Eventually, the dog did return, leading help (from two men, including Faessler’s dad) back to the bleeding man and saving his life.

“All these stories… I was at those places when they happened,” he says, speculating why it has stuck with him all these years. “I was at a very young, impressionable age.”

Another story, called One Last Gift, tells of a man who contacted Faessler after a story about him ran in The Leader in 2006. In the background of the newspaper photograph of Faessler was a small painting of a barn with a unique roof. The man on the phone was incredibly excited because it was the barn his father had built in the 1930s, a building the family didn’t even have a photo of. He purchased the painting and hung it beside his ailing father’s bed. The man called again later that year to say his father had passed away, but that he’d asked a nurse to take the painting from the wall and died holding it to his chest.

Such stories, Faessler says, are deeply ingrained.

“They’ll never leave me.”

Money from the sale of Incredible Pioneer Stories will be donated to the B.C. Cancer Agency. Proceeds from his first book, Barns: From Our Pioneers – Builders of a Nation, benefited leukemia research. The disease took Faessler’s wife of 35 years and his book sales raised $6,000. Now out of print, it is available in every Surrey library.

Faessler will be signing copies of Incredible Pioneer Stories at the Guildford Town Centre location of Black Bond Books on Nov. 17, 1-2 p.m.

His book is available for purchase at Black Bond locations in Surrey, White Rock and Langley.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

Photo posted to facebook.com/HoratioAlgerCA.
Eight Surrey students among 170 Horatio Alger scholarship winners in Canada

‘Need-based scholarships’ given to high school students

Students with Seaquam Secondary’s Delta Youth Advisory Council are collecting non-perishable food donations Feb. 1 to March 5 to help feed local families in need over spring break. (Delta School District/submitted photo)
Seaquam Secondary food drive to help feed 15 North Delta families

Donations can be dropped week days between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. until Monday, March 8

Crews work to build Central Surrey Recycling and Waste Centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
PHOTOS/VIDEO: Surrey’s new recycling/waste dropoff site takes shape near Newton business park

‘Central Surrey’ location to make for ‘a convenient one-stop-drop’ by early 2022

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read