December 22, 2010

Russell Letawsky, Hermit of Desolation Sound Update

This is just want Russell looked like when we first met him in Desolation Sound.

One of the most common questions I get asked at the Adventures in Solitude book events is “whatever happened to Russell?” (if you haven’t read the book, “Russell” is one of the primary characters, a hermit we found living in a musty canvas tent beside our Desolation Sound cabin many years ago, who eventually became a good friend).

My answer is always the same: Russell is getting older, but doing well, driving his taxicab around Powell River, living the life he wants to lead, up at the end of the road, spending as much time as he can around his little home, with his beloved dog Lucy. On Tuesday nights he can be found at the Lund Hotel Pub playing euchre and sipping on a pint of Guinness.

Just the other day, I called Russell on the phone to see if he needed any copies of the book for Christmas presents. He almost never answers the phone, so I was surprised when after just a couple of rings I heard a cheery, creaky old “hello!” at the other end of the line. We chatted for awhile, and I asked him repeatedly how he was doing, and each time he answered “oh, fine, just fine”. I asked him if he had been receiving much feedback on the book, to which he answered “oh yes, everyone is coming up and talking to me about it, everyone seems to really like it”. I asked him how he felt about that, to which he answered “it’s ok, but you know me, I’m a pretty private person, I don’t want too much attention”.

Then shortly after he told me he was driving a couple of people around in his cab and they said “hey, are you the ‘Russell’ from that new book?” Russell then told me with a chuckle “they thought it was pretty cool when I said ‘I sure am!’

So, if you ever find yourself in the Lund Pub on a Tuesday night, be sure to buy my old friend Russell a pint of Guinness or a glass of red wine. Is there a “Russell” in your life?

Amor fati.

(11) Comments

  1. John "tb3" says:

    My gosh that picture is amazing!

    Thanks for posting this, it was one of the burning questions I had after reading the book. When I saw that he was at your book launch at Lund, I imagined it was an emotional reunion.

    In fact when I heard you do the interview with Nardwuar and you were talking about some of the characters in the book being composites of 2 or 3 people I was actually kind of bummed thinking that Russell might not be just one, unique person, but two or three.

    This posts makes me feel like there is only one Russell Letawsky in the book. And real life.

    All feels right in my world this morning.

  2. Grant Lawrence says:

    thanks John… there are actually very, very few characters that are amalgamations of others… just one or two, Mack the Knife being the primary one.

  3. Martin C says:

    I’d also like to chime in and say very cool pic. I don’t have a Russell in my life unfortunately, after reading all about him I feel like I may have missed out!

    If/when I have kids I’ll have to make sure to introduce them to someone as interesting as him. 🙂

  4. Crystal says:

    Great book ! I have the pleasure of knowing Russell for many many years of working that the lund pub. great man.humble man. will talk your ear off! he holds one of my most fondest nicknames at my pub 🙂

  5. Grant Lawrence says:

    thanks very much, crystal! what was the nickname for Russell???

  6. Danielle says:

    Goodness, what a shock to see this on the web… I bought that tent that Russell was living in, we lived n it for several months after moving from Toronto to Edmonton… but when I wouldn’t leave for life in the wilds, we broke up… Glad he’s doing well – I think if we had stayed together we might have killed each other…but even now, I am sure if we reconnected he’d be telling me that we would have been better off had I followed him… Next time you talk with him, tell him Danielle and Patrick are doing well. Lotsa LLove

  7. Danielle says:

    My son and I went to see Russell when he was living in the bush, but we had no way of letting him know that we were coming. All the way up on the drive from Van. I kept sending him the message to be at the docks when we arrived… I always knew when he was coming to Edmonton to try to talk me into going back with him…a telepathic connection between us.. When I arrived at the docks, he was nowhere to be found and the dockmaster said he had been in the day before, wasn’t likely to be back… so we organized a water taxi and brought all our gear down to the dock… but just as we were about to start loading it onto the taxi, the dockmaster stopped us with a “what do you know, I think that’s Russell coming in now”… and sure enough it was… Later he told me that he didn’t know why he had decided to come into town, just knew he needed to… We spent a few nice days out at his campsite… last time I saw him…

  8. Is Russell the sin of Cyril and Mary Letawsky?

  9. Grant Lawrence says:

    I believe so, yes, the SON anyway.

  10. I just had russell in the store
    still cracking jokes

  11. Ken Morgan says:

    I worked with Russell for twenty years in cabbing was great fun . An update , Russell is doing well dealing with small health and vision issues. his biggest problem is that he has 3 months to move from his beloved cabin in the woods.if anybody knows of a cabin in the Lund area please let me know here or on F B , Thanks!

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