My name is Peter Sibbald and I want to tell you a story. From my earliest memories, I’ve always loved them, riveting and rapturous, from the animated whispers by my Mom or Dad at bedtime to the lyric of Harry Chapin ballads and the tomes of Dickens, Twain, and Shakespeare and Homer: great stories. And then there was my Nannie.
My Nannie was a natural born storyteller. Most of the time, she lived in pain. Yet when she got talking about some of the local characters, or something that had happened during her 50 years as the chatelaine of her big old Upper Canada estate home, The Briars, her eyes would twinkle. For Nannie, pain relief was a steaming teapot, a plate of cookies, and an audience.
One day, late in the summer of 1988, I woke up to the realization that Nannie had just been checked into the hospital for her umpteenth cancer operation. The proverbial writing was on the wall. But with all the time I’d been spending on the road doing photo assignments for major magazines… just when was it that I had last seen her, anyway?
Ages…Panic! Suddenly, I KNEW I NEEDED to capture some of her stories?
I beetled off to York County Hospital in Newmarket with my tape recorder and my new girlfriend, Nancy. I wanted to see if, while recording our conversation, I could still help Nannie find some of that old twinkle. That piece is a little rough, from the days before I had professional equipment. However, I’ve managed to filter out most of the ventilation fans, banging meal trays and long pauses for her sunshine to sparkle through.
Here’s a few minutes of my grandmother, Marjorie Sibbald, not long before she died.
All these years later, I realize that it was then, in that place of my Nannie’s imminent demise, that the seed for Legacy Productions Canada was planted.