Rick Ranson has collected stories from all over North America, from the DEW Line and the drill ships of Working North to the raging waters of the Mississippi in Paddling South. Now, join this engaging raconteur as he ventures to one of Canada's most talked-about locations: Fort McMurray, home of the oilsands.
In Bittersweet Sands, Rick Ranson recounts a twenty-four day shift at an oilsands operation undergoing a shutdown, giving us a glimpse at a world most of us only know from the evening news. Along the way, he encounters a group of engaging roughnecks, including a husband and wife welding crew, a petty fascist safety inspector, and the tough-as-nails secretary that keeps them all in line.
Praise for Bittersweet Sands: 24 Days in Fort McMurray:
"Beyond simply finding a throughline through a collection of anecdotes, Bittersweet Sands succeeds in offering a compelling portrait of that unusual community, one that rarely factors into discussions of the oilsands: hard men drawn together by work, getting rich, but isolated from family and friends and left without much else aside from each other to help pass the time."
--Paul Blinov, Vue Weekly
A natural-born raconteur, Rick Ranson, the third child in a family of six children, was raised by an enthusiastic, story-telling Royal Canadian Air Force Captain, and grew up in military bases across Canada, from Vancouver to Labrador. When he was 16, Ranson followed his wanderlust and hitchhiked from Winnipeg through the US to Toronto, and then from Winnipeg to Mexico, before surviving a canoe trip from Winnipeg to New Orleans. Today Ranson spends his time living between Winnipeg, MB, and Key West, Florida.
Ranson has worked as a longshoreman, a drill ship’s welder, a boilermaker, a farm equipment salesman, an editor for McGraw Hill, a forklift operator, a business owner, and now a published author. Ranson has contributed to several publications, including The Cottager Magazine, Gam on Yachting, Western Producer, and The Herald. He is also the author of Working North DEW Line to Drill Ship, which chronicles the eight years Ranson spent working as a welder in the Canadian Arctic. Paddling South: Winnipeg to New Orleans by Canoe was released in October 2007 and was shortlisted for the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction at the Manitoba Book Awards. Paddling South was translated and published in Germany in 2009. Rick's latest book, Bittersweet Sands: Twenty-Four Days in Fort McMurray, was released in Fall 2014.
"Beyond simply finding a throughline through a collection of anecdotes, Bittersweet Sands succeeds in offering a compelling portrait of that unusual community, one that rarely factors into discussions of the oilsands: hard men drawn together by work, getting rich, but isolated from family and friends and left without much else aside from each other to help pass the time.
--Paul Blinov, Vue Weekly
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