BRANTFORD – The past four years for Cody Groat have been filled with hundreds of hours writing, interviewing and transcribing his many encounters with newsworthy Canadians — it paid off last week at his book’s official launch surrounded by friends, colleagues and family.
Canadian Stories, is a written collection of 21-year-old Groat’s adventures meeting some of Canada’s most influential individuals — from previous Prime Minister Paul Martin, to astronaut Marc Garneau and Peter Mansbridge, Groat showcases a wide-range of different Canadian talents.
“I really tried to get the full gamut of what it means to be from Canada and who we are,” said Groat. “I like to think I did it in my own personal style; light, casual and fun.”
Groat is from Ingersoll, Ont., has family from Six Nations and is a recent graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford. He put his social life on hold while he organized and conducted his interviews and Laurier was happy to host the book launch at the Sanderson Centre on Sept. 15.
“Today is a special day and I’m very honoured to be here celebrating Cody’s book launch,” said Adam Lawrence, Laurier Brantford’s dean of students. “Cody is a very special member of the Laurier family — an incredible individual who had an idea and a dream and through hard work and perseverance, his dream became a reality.”
Groat said that about 80 per cent of the individuals he reached out to gave him an interview, but that deciding who to reach out to and who to spotlight in his book wasn’t easy.
“I spent hours and hours a night not having a social life,” he said. “I checked Wikipedia, followed up on tips and I would Google random things like ‘Canadian world record holders’ or ‘world’s oldest people’ until I found who I wanted. I had a wall of sticky notes and mounds of scrap paper everywhere [covered in names] – then at the end of a week I’d bring them all together and either trash them or keep them and follow up.
“My objective was to sit down with these people and talk about life and get to know them one on one, personally and befriend them,” he said.
Groat met with people from all walks of life and had the opportunity to meet with a childhood celebrity of his, Grindl Kuchirka, an actress well-known for her role as “Granny Garbanzo” on the TV show the Big Comfy Couch. Kuchirka landed a chapter in his book and came to the book launch as a special guest.
“It’s really a great thing that this fellow here has put out this book,” said Kuchirka. “Originally I thought, what’s this kid doing? He was very persistent, but I appreciated that.”
Kuchirka said that she really respected Groat for his politeness and determination and hopes that other individuals his age follow-suit with similar ideas.
“Kids like these are great,” said Kuchirka. “If there are more of these kids out there that are thinking like Cody, we’ve got a chance on this planet. Y’know this kid is great. He just did it. That’s how things get done – you just do it.”
Groat said that as a young author, “there’s a good chance that you’re going to want to quit and you’ll realize that it’s more stressful than you could ever imagine, but don’t give up. There will be times that you hit a wall, but it’s not a bad thing.”
Every time he lifted himself out of a slump and started to write again, Groat said that he had a new perspective and could view things in a different light. Groat’s mother Karen Hutton was at the event and was very proud of her son’s accomplishment.
“I’m not surprised he was able to do it — it just surprised me how he managed to balance the book, his work and his academics,” said Hutton. “I can’t even talk about it without crying — no, I’m not surprised he could do something like this.”
Canadian Stories sells for $23 and 40 per cent of the profits will be given to Canadian charities as a thank-you to his interviewees for their time and patience.