Skip to content

Novel connects Sudbury, Spanish Civil War

When Jules Paivio was 19, he left Sudbury and went to Spain to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Now 94, Paivio is the last known living member of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion.
terry
Terrence West, author of Not in My Father’s Footsteps, will be in Sudbury Dec. 1 to discuss his book on the Spanish Civil War. Supplied photo.

When Jules Paivio was 19, he left Sudbury and went to Spain to fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Now 94, Paivio is the last known living member of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. Recently, he was given Spanish citizenship for his contributions to that country’s fight for democracy in the late 1930s.

Paivio, a former architect and educator, spearheaded a campaign to have a national monument to the 1,500 Canadians who served in the Spanish Civil War erected at Green Island Park on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The monument was designed by Sudbury architect Oryst Sawchuk.

Paivio was a resident at Finlandia Village in Sudbury for many years, and an active member of the Finnish-Canadian community. He now lives in Aurora.

Writer Terrence Rundle West talked to Paivio when he was writing his new novel about the Spanish Civil War. His book is titled Not In My Father’s Footsteps and is published by General Store Publishing House.

West will be in Sudbury Dec. 1 for a reading at the Greater Sudbury Public Library, main branch, at 7 p.m. The Meet the Author event is hosted by Sudbury Living Magazine.

There are many things about Not In My Father’s Footsteps that will resonate with Sudburians, West said.

“This may surprise many readers — on a per capita basis, Sudbury and Thunder Bay contributed more volunteers to fight fascists in Spain than almost any other city in Canada. And they did it at a time when it was against Canadian law to volunteer for Spain.

“Nevertheless, 38 Sudbury men thumbed their noses at the government to fight for justice. Of these, seven died, seven were seriously wounded, and one, Jules Paivio, was taken prisoner.”

Not In My Father’s Footsteps is a work of historical fiction about two Montreal men. Marty goes to Spain to support the republic, while Dollard, a budding reporter, is a nationalist who is sympathetic to Gen. Francisco Franco. Many Quebec Catholics hailed Franco as a modern Catholic crusader.

“Polar opposites in background, temperament and opportunity, they clash briefly in Montreal,” West wrote. “But it is not until their paths cross in the snows of the Battle of Teruel, Spain, in 1937, that they meet head on.”

The book has received good reviews. Bill Waiser of the University of Saskatchewan said, “Historical-fiction aficionados crave two essential ingredients — a riveting story and historical accuracy. West appears to have delivered on both.”

Not In My Father’s Footsteps is West’s third book. His second book, Run of the Town (17 short stories about life in small-town northern Ontario in the years 1940–65), received the Northern “Lit” Award in 2007. West was raised in Hearst and now lives in Ottawa.

 

 

Posted by Laurel Myers