David Hardwicke’s author profile photo from his book “Short Ribs.” (Submitted Photo/David Hardwicke)

David Hardwicke’s author profile photo from his book “Short Ribs.” (Submitted Photo/David Hardwicke)

Skeena Voices | A laugh a day keeps the doctor away

David Hardwicke brings humour and big ideas to Terrace

David Hardwicke, 62, is a surveyor, a singer and an author — but he is perhaps a comedian first and foremost.

Originally from Sudbury, Ont., Hardwicke lived in Granisle as a child with his father, who was a mining engineer and traveled to various places.

“I was aware of Terrace because of CFTK, which broadcast in Granisle, so I had a connection to here because I used to watch a show called Fisherman Fred and he invited kids to write in a story and he’d read it on the air, so I wrote one in,” Hardwicke said.

He said he passed through Terrace as a kid and liked the area. Later in life, by chance, he had an opportunity to move here and took it.

Hardwicke studied geomatics engineering at the University of Calgary. At the end of his final year, there were phone numbers written on the board of employers looking to hire graduates.

“I just picked one of the numbers, dialed up and I was talking to Dave Dediluke in Terrace,” he said.

“We were probably talking for 15 minutes and I finally said ‘where am I calling, because I have no idea where I’m calling,’ and he said ‘I’m in Terrace,’ and I said ‘oh really? I’d love to go to Terrace if you’ll take me.”

Hardwicke packed up, moved to Terrace in 1989, and has been here ever since. He works as a land surveyor and is the first in on projects and new buildings to survey the land and get it registered.

“It’s quite an interesting job, you get to see all kinds of places, we go everywhere,” he said. “The good thing is we get to see a good chunk of the province and get paid to do it so it’s a good deal.”

Humour is a big part of Hardwicke’s life.

“I’m constantly joking, the thing is when I’m at work I’m at work so I’m busy doing math calculations or I’m looking up some legislation to deal with on a project or whatever, I’m as serious as I need to be however the first rule of Dave is that if I say something it’s usually to get a laugh.”

Eventually, Hardwicke started writing down jokes and ideas for cartoons while eating breakfast during the summer of 2016.

“I just decided to flip open the dictionary and just look at words and something clicked in my head,”

“I developed this pattern where at breakfast time I would sit with a dictionary or thesaurus and my note pad and eat breakfast and just flip and look through the words, and if something caught my eye that I could twist and turn into a pun or a story or whatever, I would write it down.”

Eventually, he decided he had enough material to put it in a book. Hardwicke contacted FreisenPress, a Canadian publishing service provider and set the wheels in motion to publish his own book. He collaborated with Arlene Doell, a local artist that he knew and enlisted her to draw 60 cartoons for publication.

Two years after starting the process, and a year longer than he had hoped, his book “Short Ribs” was ready in January 2020. It is a collection of cartoons, jokes and word play that Hardwicke says is aimed at a wide demographic. He said his style is to make readers think, and he is not a fan of jokes in the style of ‘why did the chicken cross the road,’ which could have any number of endings.

“You’ll see that my format is here’s a keyword or phrase, or commonly used sentence and I’ll give it an alternate meaning that doesn’t mean what you normally think, it’s twisted or completely out of left field, and that’s the whole point, to make your brain go ‘what’?”

He said the feeling of finally having his own book in his hands was “fantastic.”

“I got it in a big box in the mail and I got to bring fresh copies to work and I got to say ‘guess what, I’m published,’ so that was kinda a neat feeling of accomplishment, one of those bucket list things,” he said.

Hardwicke said he has enough material for several more volumes, and he is in the process of releasing a second book with more than double the amount of jokes, plus a joke recipe and a cutout logic puzzle.

“I’m looking forward to volume two coming out because I’ve also had the experience now of having people’s feedback and whatnot, which has all been pretty good.”

Hardwicke said much of his passion for comedy comes from a desire to support others.

“Humour is an excellent way to fight depression, I know because I suffer from that, so people suffering from COVID or any other debilitating disease that may limit their activities or their social interactions or whatever can benefit from humour,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons why I try to help people by making them laugh is because I understand that, I look for that to try and pick somebody up.”

In addition to joking around constantly, Hardwicke also sings and plays the drums in a band called the Whiskey Jacks. He said the band often plays at the Terrace Legion, and has performed there for New Years. He has spent 12 years singing at festivals in Terrace acapella and solo, and he thoroughly enjoys karaoke.

Hardwicke also has some grand ideas for the future of the Terrace area.

“I’ve been actually working on trying to get people interested in a Canadian version of Mt. Rushmore right here on Copper Mountain right above the golf course,” he said.

Hardwicke envisions a nationwide contest to select the faces, with spaces reserved for a national and local Indigenous person. His idea for what he calls the West Face Project would also include a modern museum on the northwest corner of the Skeena Valley Golf Club, similar in style to the Exploration Place in Prince George.

He said removed rock could be used to build a dyke to protect the Southside of Terrace from the Skeena River and provide the added benefit of a walking and cycling path. Hardwicke said he has received mostly positive feedback on the idea, and his next step is to submit an application to the Crown.

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