Saturday, April 29, 2017

Kicking off the Summer in Style

The McAdam Railway Station and Hotel is kicking off the summer season in grand style a little early this year with a combined event planned for the afternoon of Saturday, May 13.

“This will be a great treat for our guests,” said Frank Carroll, representative of the McAdam Historical Restoration Commission, the group of volunteers that has been leading the restoration of the glorious station for the past decade. “We’re hosting a book launch event at 1 p.m. for the second edition of our gorgeous McAdam Station coffee table book and then greeting, at 2, a passenger train loaded with folks as part of the Oromocto Hospital Foundation’s Annual Train Ride fundraising event.”

The Hospital Foundation’s train ride fundraiser includes a train ride from Fredericton Junction to the McAdam Railway Station and back, a tour of the historic Station and finally dinner in Fredericton Junction. Tickets for the event have been sold out for some time – they often sell out in the fall for the following May’s train ride.

The book launch, meanwhile, is open to the general public free of charge. Mark Walma and Mary E. O’Keefe, authors of the well-known Abigail Massey at McAdam Station children’s books, will be on hand to share stories of the Station, of the Abigail Massey book project and of exciting plans for the upcoming year.

Front and centre at the book launch will be the second edition of The McAdam Railway Station and Hotel: Fact, Fiction and Photography, the beautiful coffee table book that celebrates the Station, the restoration effort and the Abigail stories, with every penny from sales going to support the Restoration Commission.

“When we brought out the special first edition of the coffee table book two years ago, it sold out even before we got it back from the printers,” Walma said, “so we’re delighted to be able to bring out the second edition, just as beautiful and just as chock full of exciting photos and text, but redesigned for the general market.”

Carroll pointed out that the book launch event creates a great opportunity for folks to view and take photos of the arrival of a passenger train at the Station and to enjoy the excitement along with the many passengers who will be loading and unloading on the train in McAdam.

“In its heyday, the McAdam Station welcomed passenger trains numerous times every day,” Carroll said, “but now, unfortunately, it’s a fairly rare event to have a passenger train filled with people roll up to our platform and open its doors. I expect this will bring back a lot of fond memories for a lot of folks across New Brunswick.”

The McAdam Station will offer its full catalogue of services and events starting in June this summer, including Railway Pie Sundays and the special celebration of Canada’s 150th Birthday on July 1.
“This combined book launch/passenger train event is a great way to kick things off,” Carroll said.

“I’m not sure what I’m more looking forward to,” Walma added, “the launch of our gorgeous book or the chance to step back into the Station’s history and witness the arrival of the Oromocto Hospital Foundation’s passenger train.”

The book launch begins at 1 p.m. and is free to the public. The train is expected to arrive at 2 p.m.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Created Here publishes fab feature on Abigail

Created Here Article, beautifully laid out
The Abigail Massey stories, the McAdam Railway Station and author Mark Walma were all featured in the latest edition of Created Here, a wonderful new publication launched by Marie-Hélène Morell.

Walma wrote the story that accompanied the beautiful layout of photos and drawings in the print magazine.

"It was an interesting experience," Walma said, "being asked to write an article about your own work."

Walma said he tried to find a way to write the article in a way that wouldn't end up sounding vain or falsely modest. "I decided to tell a story," he said. "I think the story of how Lynn and I decided to embark on the Abigail journey in the first place is an interesting and fun one so I focused the Created Here article on that."

He said that Morell was an excellent editor, very easy to work with, very clear in her requirements. "I enjoyed working with Marie-Hélène," Walma said. "She was kind and supportive but always direct in what she needed from me."

Walma said he received the print copy of the magazine the Friday before Christmas, which made it something of a delightful Christmas gift.

"I was unfortunately unable to attend the launch party for the magazine in Saint John so I wasn't sure when I would get the chance to see it," he said. "I was pretty happy to find it in my mail box when I came home from my last day of work before the holidays!"

The best part about the published article, Walma said, was the prominence the magazine gave to the fabulous illustrations that his sister Lynn contributed to the Abigail books. "I think sometimes Lynn's artistic contribution to the Abigail project gets forgotten in the press -- I was delighted to see two of her best from the first volume of stories get such a prominent place in the article!"

Thursday, July 28, 2016

"Still Standing" McAdam is a hit in New Brunswick

Tuesday night was a big night for the Village of McAdam, its people, its historic railway station and its fictional favourite daughter.

CBC TV's hit television series, Still Standing, broadcast its latest episode on Tuesday, this one focusing its affectionate attentions on the New Brunswick village. It was a laugh-filled half-hour featuring Canada's favourite comedian and actor, Jonny Harris.

Alongside interviews with various local personalities, Harris chatted with Mark Walma, author of the Abigail Massey at McAdam Station stories, about the Abigail project and about Walma's relationship with the struggling town.

"It was a huge event, for the Village, the Station and for me personally," Walma said after the show. "I think we all had a really positive feeling about how Jonny and the crew from CBC and Frantic Films would present McAdam and its stories but the final episode surpassed even those high expectations."

Still Standing characterizes itself as offering love letters to Canada's struggling small communities, offering an entertaining mix of interviews with local personalities, information about the community and its history and original stand up comedy, written by Harris and a team of writers, that focuses uniquely on the community and its people.

"I felt they really delivered on their promises," Walma said with a smile. "The episode told McAdam's story very well and managed to produce a surprising number of laughs for a half-hour show."

For example, Harris drew big laughs when he described McAdam as "the first town in Canada to have a same-sex marriage before it has a Tim Hortons" as he profiled a lovely young couple who are planning their wedding for this fall, with the reception to be held at the Station.

He also profiled the local hair dresser, the proprietors of a nearby hunting and fishing lodge and the former mayor and his sister who are at the heart of the Station's restoration effort.

"In a show filled with highlights, the best moment for me was the interview with Frank Campbell," Walma commented. "Frank is one of the most knowledgeable people in McAdam when it comes to the history of the Station and he proved an entertaining and colourful speaker. I've been associated with the Station for about five years now and I still learned a lot from Frank's appearance on the show."

Walma himself figured prominently in the episode. He appeared regularly in the scenes from the stand-up comedy show (usually shown laughing uproariously) and he was presented chatting with Harris in the Station's lunch counter about the Abigail books as well.

Several of Lynn Walma's wonderful illustrations were also featured on-screen during the course of the episode.

After telling the story of the Abigail project and noting that it has raised more than $20,000 for the Station's restoration fund, Harris rounded out the segment by telling Walma that, while everyone appreciated the fact that he had taken the time to attend the show in McAdam, they all would much rather he go home and write more stories in support of the Station.

"No worries there," Walma said. "[Co-author] Mary [E. O'Keefe] and I are just putting the final touches on the stories for Abigail, Volume 5, which will be launched this winter in time for Christmas."

Walma said he was impressed with the fact that the Still Standing episode focused on the positive when it comes to the future of McAdam. In fact, Harris made it clear that, based on his experience in visiting struggling communities across Canada, he felt McAdam has a real chance to survive if it makes the restored Station a focal point of the Village's future.

"The show itself is already helping," Walma added. "I've received emails and tweets from across Canada, asking for more information about the Abigail books and how to buy them. Plus, website traffic is up significantly!"

The McAdam episode of CBC's Still Standing is now available online at the CBC TV website.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

McAdam is certainly Still Standing in hit CBC show

Still Standing host Jonny Harris with Author Mark Walma
The Village of McAdam, home of the historic McAdam Railway Station and Hotel, will be featured in an episode of the CBC hit series, Still Standing, later this summer.

Hosted by Newfoundland actor/comedian Jonny Harris (of Murdoch Mysteries fame) and produced by Frantic Films of Toronto, Still Standing calls itself a "love letter" to small-town Canada. The show launched its second season with a fun and informative visit to Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, a beautiful island and home of Skidegate, a Haida community of approximately 800. You can watch the entire episode online here.

Frantic Films first visited McAdam in early February to do some advance work for the episode that would feature the New Brunswick village. Amelia Wasserman of Frantic Films spent a week in the village, talking to the local people, visiting the sites, taking photos and video and gathering information in preparation for the visit of the entire cast and crew.

McAdam mayor Frank Carroll included Abigail author Mark Walma on the list of potential participants in the show and, after enjoying a mock interview with Wasserman about the Abigail project and his relationship with the village, Walma was fortunate enough to be chosen to meet Jonny Harris and appear on the show.

The second appearance: Author Mark with Abigail books
"I really didn't think I would be chosen," Walma admitted with a laugh. "But I guess the show's producers wanted to include someone who was interested in the village, participated in some village events but wasn't quite considered a local. It's an interesting perspective, I guess."

Several weeks later, a full crew from Frantic Films and CBC spent a week in McAdam to do the filming required for the episode. With Harris and the technical and creative folk came two other talented comedians and writers, Fraser Young and Graham Chittenden, whose responsibility it was to turn all the material the group gathered into a one-hour stand-up comedy act that Harris would deliver at the McAdam High School gym on the Saturday night.

"The interview with Jonny Harris was a lot of fun," Walma said. "We sat in the Station's Lunch Counter and chatted for 45 minutes or so. I expected there to be a lot of stopping and starting but it was just a smoothly flowing conversation. He really is the nice guy who comes across so clearly on TV."

Walma explained that the interview focused mainly on the Abigail project and how he and his sister Lynn came to take such an interest in the village and its Station. "But he was also interested in whether or not I had been adopted by the village yet," Walma added. "You know, was I still that guy from away who writes the books or was I one of them?"

The author appears to have enjoyed the entire process thoroughly, with one possible exception: "It is kind of terrifying," he said, "to sit in that gymnasium knowing that Jonny Harris is about to talk about you in his stand-up set but with no idea whatsoever of what he's going to say."

And how did it turn out?

"For me personally, it was an awesome experience. They handled me with comic kid gloves," Walma said. "For the village, it was just as great. Jonny, Fraser and Graham did an amazing job of writing an original, detailed and really funny set about the Village of McAdam and its people. I was really impressed with how well written it was and how perfectly Jonny delivered it."

Although the actual date of broadcast of the McAdam episode of Still Standing has yet to be made public, the release yesterday of a 90-second trailer for Season Two of the show on Facebook has already generated a great deal of buzz in New Brunswick.

The trailer includes flashes from all of the episodes planned for Season Two but McAdam and its beautiful station feature prominently, including one shot of Jonny Harris marching along on the platform in front of the station and several brief shots of various McAdam citizens who will appear in the episode.

"I'm even in there a couple of times," Walma said, a twinkle in his eye. "I watched the video for the first time on my smart phone as I was walking down the street and I stopped dead, my jaw on the ground, when I realized that the smiling face that had just flashed across that tiny screen was my own!"

Screen shots of Walma's appearances in the video appear at the top of this entry. Watch this space for more information about the Still Standing episode on the Village of McAdam as it becomes available.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Abigail web series comes to life in new teaser trailer

Abigail creator and principal author Mark Walma is "beyond excited" by the debut, this past November, of the teaser trailer in support of the proposed new Abigail Massey at McAdam Station web series, tentatively titled The Station.

"I am quite honestly beside myself," Walma said recently. "This teaser trailer is, in and of its self, a beautiful piece of film making and I am very optimistic that it will 'seal the deal' when we begin to approach the various arts bodies for funding for The Station."

Directed, filmed and edited by Tom Belding of the Vancouver Film School, the teaser trailer features an amazing blending of historic footage with new shots Belding filmed on a cold Saturday morning in October at the McAdam Station.

Walma attended the filming session. "It was so great to see professionals like Tom Belding and Nancy Lynch in action," he said. "Many of the shots in the trailer were taken using a high-def camera attached to a drone that Tom flew around and above the Station building and I think the resulting trailer is absolutely amazing."

Since the 90-second film debuted at the launch of Abigail Massey at McAdam Station, Volume 4, in early November, it has been viewed more than 1200 times on Youtube.

"It's had a galvanizing effect on our work to bring the proposed web series to life," Walma said. "I don't think you can watch that teaser without being impressed and excited."

Meanwhile, the fourth volume of Abigail stories experienced a very successful selling season since its launch in October with author's Walma and Mary E. O'Keefe making numerous public appearances in support of the new collection of children's stories.

To view the trailer for yourself, follow the link above or copy the following URL into your browser:

Friday, October 23, 2015

New book, new author

Abigail Massey at McAdam Station, Volume 4, is here!

With stories written by both Abigail's original author Mark Walma and McAdam, NB native Mary E. O'Keefe, accompanied by Lynn Walma's wonderful illustration, this new collection of children's stories set in the 1940s offers everything a young reader could want in a story book: humour, action, adventure, emotion, even a little bit of soul-searching for Abigail and her friends.

"I'm delighted that we are able to bring Mary E. O'Keefe and her delightful writing style into the public eye," Mark Walma said recently. "Mary grew up in McAdam, right across the street from the landmark train station, and her stories have a wonderfully fresh, innocent and heart-warming feel to them."

The new collection offers six new stories, featuring Abigail, her cousin Martha and their friends and colleagues who live and work at the historic railway station and hotel.

"There are a lot of familiar faces in the stories but also some new ones," Walma said, "including a new hotel maid who, well, let's just say she introduces challenges for Abigail and her friends."

Volume 4 will be launched at an event to be held on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 1 p.m. at the McAdam Railway Station and Hotel. The event is free to the public and should be a fun time for all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Abigail Project Expands in Interesting Ways

The Abigail project team continues to work hard in preparation for the fall launch of Abigail Massey at McAdam Station, Volume 4, with six exciting new stories and six wonderful new illustrations.

"We're excited to report that Mary O'Keefe, a talented writer and McAdam native, has joined the team and contributed two really fantastic stories to this new collection," original Abigail author Mark Walma said recently.

"Mary brings a bright and upbeat tone to her stories and her indepth knowledge of the people and culture of the McAdam area really adds the ring of authenticity."

Walma said the fourth collection of historical stories for children set at the McAdam Station in the early 1940s involves the departure of one familiar character and the emergence of a new, potentially troubling character.

But the new Volume isn't the only project that is garnering the attention of the team: work is underway to convert the special Abigail novella, A McAdam Station Christmas, into a stage play and to adapt the short stories into scripts for a web series.

"We're looking to expand our Abigail's reach," author Mark Walma said recently, "to introduce her to new audiences both in live action and online formats."

Walma said that a draft play has already been created and he is working with established screen writer Nancy Lynch to shop the play to community theatres around New Brunswick. "Nancy is a very driven, talented person and we're lucky she's taken an interest in our project," Walma said.

Lynch is also the driving force behind the web-series idea, working with Walma to develop a "teaser trailer" for the proposed new online TV series that could be used to apply for grant funding from government arts institutions.

"I had never really heard of web series before Nancy brought it up," the author laughed, "but it sounds like a fun and exciting opportunity for us. Stated simply, a web series is like a mini television series that is made available to the public entirely online, through outlets like Youtube."

He pointed out that, with the publication of Volume 4, the project team will have a total of 18 Abigail stories that could be adapted into four-to-six minute web episodes.

"That's enough for a really strong start and, if the we get that far and attract an audience, we'll be able to seek out more funding, perhaps even sponsorships," Walma said.

"And, since the main goal of entire project is to support the restoration and preservation of the McAdam Railway Station and Hotel, anything we can do to increase the profile of the Station within New Brunswick and across the country will be well worth the effort!"