Tom Cooper is supposed to be retired, but has embarked on another professional adventure. Cooper, a former Vankleek Hill resident who now lives in Cornwall, has written two volumes of humorous short stories, and another is due for publication this year.
Cooper grew up in Baie d’Urfé and graduated from McGill University in 1971. He majored in psychology and with a minor in English.
“I loved English,” says Cooper.
One of his professors at McGill was the famous Canadian author Hugh MacLennan. Cooper then attended Concordia University and earned a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design. He went to work at SPAR Aerospace where he participated in the graphic design work of Canadarm, Canada’s most important contribution to space exploration.
Cooper also taught business studies and desktop publishing at Algonquin College, before working in graphic design for Bombardier in Mirabel, Quebec. During the 1970s, Cooper was also a pilot and a flight instructor. His first foray as an author was writing the “Private Pilot Ground Workbook” for private pilots in training across Canada.
Tom and his two sons Alan and Anthony lived in Vankleek Hill from 1981 to 2004. Local curlers may remember Elder Cooper of the Vankleek Hill Curling Club. Both sons attended Pleasant Corners Public School and VCI.
In 2004, Cooper retired and moved to Kelowna, British Columbia, but retirement did not last long. He has taught photography and digital camera technology at Okanagan College and Red Deer College in Alberta.
In 2019 Cooper and his wife Jane returned east and settled in Cornwall. At 70, he began to write. The results were ‘The day the loyalty turned on him … and other senior (comedic?) Moments’ and ‘The Cometh Snow Blower Man… at least I hope he is! ‘.
“I’ve seen the lighter side of the human condition,” Cooper says of his humorous stories, which are heavily influenced by his own observations and life experiences.
It’s self-mockery and Cooper says the sometimes difficult days since March 2020 have actually been a positive inspiration for him.
“The moment the pandemic set in is the moment I started to see humor in everything,” he explains.
The work of Canadian comedian Stephen Leacock has been a major influence for Cooper.
“There’s something about his humor that resonates with me,” he says.
Leacock is best known for ‘Sun sketch of a small town ‘- who hilariously observed life in the fictional town of Mariposa in central Ontario, but Cooper points out that the fictional town of Clarence Mills in his writings is not based on a certain small town in the far east. from Ontario.
“It’s not Vankleek Hill,” the author laughs.
Cooper says he loves stories about small towns because they are places where people and families matter and there is a common type of comedy of community life in villages across Canada.
“I will always have a soft spot for Vankleek Hill,” Cooper recalls.
Cooper’s previous work was nominated for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor in 2021 and again in 2022. His third book, ‘Who the hell chooses the peak? ‘, Iis released this year.
Depending on the outcome of the pandemic restrictions, Cooper would like to have his stories read at local locations. Her books are available for sale locally on The Review both online and in The Review office store. They are also available at Vankleek Cottage.