The Mississauga native returns home for a special book signing with her “Poppy.”


By Declan Finucane

Published on July 15, 2022 at 4:58 p.m

Karla Courtney is attending a very special book signing at a Mississauga Chapters store tomorrow (July 16).

The Mississauga native, who has lived in and visited a number of locations around the world since leaving the city in 2004, not long after graduating from The Woodlands Secondary School, is making her return visit in the company of one of her favorite people of the world.

Having just completed two book signings in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Courtney and her grandfather – the latter, who for decades was affectionately known to his granddaughter as “Poppy” – caught a flight to Pearson Airport in Mississauga on Thursday night.

Along with a number of other professional endeavors on her career record, Courtney, who now lives in England with her husband and son, is a writer.

And her first children’s book, appropriately titled Poppy’s house, was released in June. It lovingly recounts some of Courtney’s most treasured memories – visiting her grandparents at their home in Newfoundland and Labrador for many weeks at a time during their childhood and teenage summers.

Her grandmother, who taught Courtney all about hand knitting, died in 2004. Poppy has lived in Newfoundland and Labrador ever since.

Poppy, now 93, will join his granddaughter at Chapters on Vega Blvd on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in western Mississauga. They will sign copies of the book together again.

An online Google review of the 40-page book, published by Walker Books in the US, describes it as “a heartfelt tale of bondage between young and old that evokes the wild, windswept shores of Newfoundland – and the joys a traditional way of life.”

It goes on, very colorfully: “In a picture book as cozy as woolen socks and as wide as a lighthouse beam, a little girl takes a ferry to an island to spend time with her poppy. After freshly baked bread for breakfast, the two tidy up, garden and go on a search together. They pass docks and green hills dotted with puffins, counting their favorite things along the way: pylons, animal tracks, silvery waves. At the end of each day, they curl up in Poppy’s battered velvet armchair to read by lantern light. When it’s time to head home, the little girl begins counting down the days until she and Poppy are back together. A patchwork of exquisitely patterned and textured artwork evokes a traditional quilt in this ode to coastal Canada and days spent with an observant, caring elderly.”

Courtney, also a travel and lifestyle writer (and hand knitter) whose work has been published in parents Magazine, Qantas, vanity fair and the Times (London) first wrote about Poppy and her childhood five years ago.

The story was published in a 2017 issue Qantas Magazine as part of the market launch of Qantas’ Dreamliner aircraft.

“I was the online editor of the Qantas Travel Insider site and a regular contributor to the magazine, so they invited me to write a story about my childhood dream trip and I wrote it about summers in Newfoundland with my grandparents and then when my son first met Poppy,” says Courtney lived in Australia until 2014, then moved to England where her husband is from.

Courtney adds that although Poppy was very close to her grandmother, she is the “star” of the book, having visited him on Canada’s east coast for almost 20 years.

“I’m also writing it through my son’s eyes a bit,” she says. “In the book, the illustrator added knitting/quilting patterns to the mounds. To me, these represent my nanny.”

(All photos by Karla Courtney)

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