Meeting Reports

Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair – A Love of Teaching

By Cynthia Cee

Meeting: 2017

Alberte was raised on a farm in Cumberland where she helped her dad in the fields. As a child, she loved nature and was a tomboy. Public school was a one room schoolhouse where she was called upon as the older student, to teach the younger students. This started her love of teaching.


During her free time, Alberte read books. She read all the books in the schoolroom and when done, read all the books in the back room of the schoolhouse. When she graduated from grade school she won all the school prizes at Le Concours and was awarded a book – The Diary of Anne Frank. This inspired her to start keeping her own diary and gave her a love of writing.


Alberte married at 19 and had a daughter. After ten difficult years of marriage she made the decision to leave and fend for herself; she became a teacher. During her summers off, to heal from the difficult relationship, she wrote her story. This became her first novel: Le jardin négligé. She encouraged her daughter to write as well, sending both their works in to a writing contest which they both won. “This gave me credibility and confidence, since I wasn’t sure if my writing was very good,” she said.


At 30 Alberte became a widow. “I had to learn what love was really all about and it wasn’t about control,” she said. Her story resonated with many women and she started attending (and speaking) at conferences dealing with difficult relationships and how to cope. After these conferences, she ended up staying behind to talk to the women and hear their stories. After one such a conference, in Sudbury, she was so popular that they called ahead to her next booking and cancelled it, so she could stay behind to answer questions.


In the meantime, her first book was so successful that it was translated into English titled The Neglected Garden. She was encouraged and next she wrote Une prière pour Hélène about 2 women friends (one an unwed Catholic mother) and their transformation.


Alberte joined many organizations and got involved with the Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). This gave her the opportunity to write for their online paper. She was given free rein to write on any topic of her choice and post her own pictures. It turned into a once a week assignment. Other papers, Canaan Connexion, True North Perspective and Perspectives Vanier asked her to write for them as well.


After a few years, Alberte started to collect the articles published in these papers. On March 24, 2018 she launched Muses from the Blue Shack , a first compilation of some of her favourite articles. By this time, Alberte had a grand-daughter and encouraged her to write as well when at age 6 she wrote with five of her friends a story on bullying. It was put into book form, published, sold and translated into English.


Alberte continues to live and write in Cumberland, contributing to Perspectives Vanier’s Seeds for Thought. She started painting after retirement and didn’t think she could do that either. She took a class and exhibited her work in a class show. One of the local artists came and liked her portrait the best..


When asked where she gets the inspiration for her columns Alberte said: “Three days before the deadline I’ll get an idea for a column and I’ll write it, but I always wait a day and read it before sending it in.” She mentioned that she keeps a book of quotes “to insert into articles when needed. If a quote speaks to me, I add it to the book.”


Alberte’s first books were sold through Chapters, Indigo and other major publishers. “But they take 45% of the sales”, she said. “I chose to go with smaller, independent publishers. Book fairs are also important to make contacts”.


When asked about writer’s block, Alberte said that when writing her bio, she found it difficult to move forward. Around that time she went on a trip to Barbados and decided to integrate the trip into the book to balance out the seriousness of the content. “So try approaching the piece from a different angle or add in a new thing”, she suggests. “Also, believe in luck!” While in Barbados she met the Ambassador. Back in Canada he came to her book launch and was so impressed by her portrayal of his country that he invited her to a free promo tour.


Alberte ended her talk with some good advice:

Past Reports

Waubgeshig Rice – Busting Myths About Indigenous Peoples, November 2016 Thomas Virany Tells Tales of His Journalism Career, September 19, 2016 Inside The Olympic Bubble, October 24, 2016 The Middlemore Experience, September 19, 2011 Panel – Learning About the Pros and Cons of Travel Writing, September 18, 2018 Fundraising, September 2015 Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair – A Love of Teaching, 2017 Melba Lent Woeflé Award Presented at Zoom Meeting, April, 2020 Tales of Capital Recollections, February, 2020 November Speaker Attracts Diverse Audience, November, 2019