Kate, played by Terry Lynn Boyle, tries to discourage her mother Moira, played by Clarice McCord (from left), from searching the Coast Mountains for her husband’s remains in Our Ghosts by Vancouver playwright Sally Stubbs. The play, based on the true story of Stubbs’s father’s disappearance, is being mounted for the first time by Western Edge Theatre starting Oct. 25 at the Harbour City Theatre. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Aftermath of 1958 disappearance of Vancouver Island pilot explored on stage

‘Our Ghosts’ tells story of playwright’s father’s plane crash and mother’s resilience

When Sally Stubbs was young, her father went missing and her mother spent the rest of her life trying to find out what really happened.

In 1958 flying officer Gerald Stephen Stubbs and his co-pilot disappeared during a flight from CFB Comox. Although wreckage from the plane has been found over the years, the bodies of the two men were never recovered. His widow Claire kept up the search for her husband and for the truth.

“Her love story was like a fairy tale, really,” Sally said. “And I think that’s probably because it ended early, I mean when things are at their best and they end, and she never wanted to remarry.”

With her mother’s permission, Sally, a Vancouver-based playwright, has spent the past five years adapting that part of her family history into her new play, Our Ghosts. She said it was a topic she had to explore.

“It was the big story that defined the life of my mom as well as myself and my brother,” she said.

Sally said at first it was difficult to write such a personal story, but soon it became “absolutely compelling.” She credits the members of her all-women writers’ collective for giving her support.

“I would go into the writing group and I was bringing in photographs and letters that my mom had written…” she said. “And we would read some of it and look at it and I would be crying, which was probably terrible for them, but they were great.”

In Early 2018 Nanaimo’s TheatreOne presented a staged reading of Our Ghosts and on Oct. 25 Western Edge is presenting the debut production of the play at the Harbour City Theatre.

Director Wendy Wearne said she was drawn to the play because it is a true story with an Island connection. Stubbs has been attending some rehearsals and Wearne said it was a rare and valuable chance to speak with a playwright and seek her input and insight.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to work directly and hand-in-hand with a playwright,” Wearne said. “Very often they are from another country or in such a position that you cannot get a hold of them or they’re dead, which is another very good reason why you can’t necessarily get a hold of them.”

“It’s felt very collaborative and very welcoming and I think they seem to be doing a great job and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all plays out,” Stubbs said.

Sally said Our Ghosts is the most important work she’s done. She said she “dug deeper” writing the script and said that people have been responding to the play because of “the truth of it.”

“I think it’s been very good for me to do and I think it’s probably one of the best things I’ve done,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Western Edge Theatre presents Our Ghosts at the Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Oct. 26 and 31 and Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $25, available online.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

A picture of John taken at Children's Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River grocery store parking lot

The seven-year-old Campbell River resident has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

View Royal Coun. John Rogers stands next to an unearthed home heating oil tank. As a way to prevent environmental disasters, he is lobbying for a provincial registration system and mandatory inspection for all above-ground tanks, as well as a requirement to remove any underground tanks not used for a prescribed period of time. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Efforts to regulate Greater Victoria home heating oil tanks continues

View Royal councillor part of movement to identify old tanks, prevent catastrophic leaks

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating two fires set in the stairwell of an apartment building after they were deemed suspicious by Nanaimo Fire Rescue. (Photo submitted)
Fires set in apartment building under investigation in Nanaimo

Paper set alight in apartment building stairwells being investigated as arson

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Ucluelet RCMP detachment. (Westerly file photo)
Driver facing charges after crashing into pedestrian at Ucluelet crosswalk

“It’s a reminder to slow down and pay attention,” said Sgt. Steve Mancini.

In a statement, BC RCMP’s media relations officer Cpl.Chris Manseau said that even an amount as small as grain of sand could be fatal. (File photo)
Sayward RCMP alerts residents after highly toxic carfentanil found in village

The opioid’s toxicity levels is 100 times more than that of fentanyl

Father Charles Brandt, a hermit priest. File Photo
Island environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving the Comox Valley’s natural habitats

Most Read