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Project Bookmark Canada is pleased to announce its first Bookmark in Winnipeg. On October 24th at 11 a.m., a Bookmark installation bearing a passage from Carol Shields’ The Republic of Love will be unveiled at the corner of River Avenue and Osborne Street, on the site of the Gas Station Arts Centre. The Bookmark is part of a national series that puts text from stories and poems in the exact physical locations where literary scenes take place.

Winnipeg is a significant new location for the literary charity, as it works toward creating a network of sites and stories that will cross the country. “We have Bookmarks in Newfoundland, Ontario and British Columbia,” said Project Bookmark Canada founder and executive director, Miranda Hill, “but this Winnipeg installation anchors our initiative in the country’s geographic centre. It will be a great springboard to new Bookmarks to the North and South, as well as to the East and West.”

Hill said that selecting this particular Carol Shields novel for the first Winnipeg Bookmark was an easy choice. “Many readers across Canada have been introduced to the city through the writing of Carol Shields,” Hill said. “And this novel is about love, including love of one’s hometown and community. In The Republic of Love, Winnipeg is not just a setting, it’s a character.”

Carol Shields (1935-2003) wrote many of her best-known works while living in Winnipeg. She authored poetry, essays, plays, short stories and non-fiction, but she is widely known for her novels, which won numerous awards and accolades including the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize.

The Republic of Love was published in 1992 by Random House Canada. “Carol was so intensely curious about how we live, so completely able to tease out all the ambiguities and delicious layers in our relationships and our dreams in prose that was so completely her own,” said her editor Anne Collins, publisher of the Knopf Random House Canada Publishing Group. “It’s hard to imagine that she’s been gone for ten years now, but we’re so lucky to be able to continue to hear her voice, through books such as The Republic of Love.”

Hill says that many partners came together to create the first Winnipeg Bookmark, including The Metcalf Foundation, The Carol Shields Literary Trust and individual donors across the country.

First among the supporters for the idea were members of Carol Shields’ family. “Carol was a person who very much believed in Winnipeg and in a community of residents, readers and writers,” said Don Shields, husband of the late author. “I think she would have been very pleased to have her words here, in the place where she imagined her characters going about their lives.”

Winnipeg Councillor Jenny Gerbasi was a vocal champion for the installation and helped to secure a home for the Bookmark. “Carol Shields is a Winnipeg icon and we are delighted to have her fiction about Osborne Village on display here in the neighbourhood itself,” Gerbasi said. “It’s a great reminder not just of this site and this book, but of the stories that are all around us, in this, Winnipeg’s most densely populated, area.”

In Osborne Village, the Gas Station Arts Centre will host the Bookmark installation, at the edge of the centre’s property, near the bus stop. “The Gas Station Arts Centre is a multi-disciplinary artistic hub for the community and for the city,” said GSAC executive director Nick Kowalchuk. “Hosting the Bookmark is another way to showcase the work of Winnipeg artists. We’re very pleased to be a home for this Bookmark and to invite residents and tourists to come see Shields’ words on our street.”

On the evening of the unveiling, the GSAC will also host a special performance in tribute to Carol Shields and her literary legacy. “The Republic of Carol Shields” will feature readers, musicians and performers from the community, including writer Jake MacDonald, and CBC personalities Marcy Markusa and Ismaila Alfa, and will be hosted by comedian Al Rae.

Members of the public are invited to attend both the unveiling and the evening performance. The Bookmark unveiling will take place at 11 a.m. in front of the Gas Station Arts Centre and admission is free. The tribute show begins at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through the GSAC theatre.