books and comments

    Guardians of the Lamp chronicles the life of the Calgary General hospital from its birth in a modest frame house on Seventh Avenue, through a one hundred eight-year history of continuous growth and dedicated service to the community; to its heartbreaking, inglorious death by implosion. For seventy-nine years, the hospital embraced an indispensable partnership with its nursing school, an alliance that shared a common commitment to excellence.

    The Calgary General Hospital School of Nursing is the centerpiece of the story, highlighted by tales of student days in the 1950s under the directorship of the illustrious Gertrude M. Hall — as remembered by the author and her Class of ’59 mates. In 1936, alumnae of the school formalized an association, and charter members initiated a ritual of “passing the lamp” of their profession to each new graduate, a tradition that continued down through the decades. Long after the hospital and the school are gone, their sisterhood flourishes; their lamp remains aglow.

    “Words can’t express the wonderful feeling I had after reading your book. You did a great job of putting history and experiences together to take me back to our training days.”          

                                                           Joy Whitehouse — Molyneux CGH ’59

    “It is a wonderful and valuable thing that you have done in writing this history. Congratulations!”                                                 

                                                                Ann Gorseth — Greenfield CGH ’59

    “I had not one thing to do with the publishing of this book and yet I have a sense of pride in it because it tells about my school and my class, and it was written by my classmate. I marvel at the research you must have done. I do not envy you your talent, I simply admire it.”

                                                                                        Annie Wiens CGH ’59

    “I am so proud of you, Eleanor; the book is excellent. You had me laughing and crying, and then reading aloud to my husband, Dave. Thank you so much for bringing together all these memories in one book. You are amazing. I am so honored to tell everyone that a CGH “sister” is the author of this story.”             


                                                                     Barb Durnie — Battrum CGH ’56

    “What a wonderful work, heart showing through on every page! This is not only the story of your class during your training years, so closely paralleling my own experiences, but the history of CGH, the evolution of nursing education in the last 50 years, stories of your inspiring instructors, and the strength of your alumnae, all told so succinctly and affectionately.”                                                        

                                                                Carol Duggan — Stevenson UAH ’59

    “My sister sent me a video of the General’s demolition. I felt like I was watching war time bombing when the hospital fell into dust. All my memories lost their anchor, and I felt lost at sea. Your book has brought those memories alive again, and I feel connected once more with a place and time I loved. Thank you so much for that.                    

                                                                                        Karen Terry - Moritz ’66

    “Your honest observations on the development of your career were right on the mark. I enjoyed often the use of a well turned phrase and the warmth of the personal relationships you and your nursing sisters experienced as I read your work. I would commend you for it and thank you for the delightful reading it provided for me.”

                                         Gerald L. Fowler, Former Deputy Superintendent,

                                                                         Calgary Board of Education

    “Although I have no personal knowledge of the Calgary General, your nursing directors and supervisors look vaguely familiar. I feel I know you and your classmates, and I have walked the hallways of the Calgary General and its Nursing Residence. Your book has captured the universality of experience and spirit shared by the ‘sisters’ of the profession.”

                                               Mary Jane McKiel, Kingston General Hospital ’69

         new release
       (seven weeks)
  Calgary Herald Bestseller List —
         local non-fiction
Guardians of the Lamp
The Calgary General Hospital 
and its Nursing School Remembered
soft cover with French flaps  and bookmark
237 pages   photographs throughout    $20.00

published 2009
Calgary Bestseller

my second book

new release — my third book

published 2012

Steps to Nowhere

Journey With My Son

a compact book — 146 pages 
soft cover with French flaps 
bookmark included  $15.00
synopsis —

The loss of a child is every parent's worst nightmare. What an act of courage, then, for a mother to share her thoughts and feelings on the death of her middle-aged son. An athlete, mechanic, animal whisperer, devoted son and brother, risk taker and charmer, Doug Byers succumbs to alcoholism, leaving  his parents, sister and brother reeling. Numbed by grief but united in love, the Byers family carries on, moving forward yet never losing their attachment to or respect for Doug. With a writer's sure hand and a mother's tender care, Eleanor King Byers brings us Steps to Nowhere.

comments —

“From a courageous writer comes this candid memoir about the loss of a son. Insert a Cat Stevens recording into your music player and let it set the mood for you while Eleanor King Byers tells the story of her troubled son, Doug, whose life was blighted by alcoholism after a truck accident left him ‘trapped in a body that wouldn’t work.’ Steps to Nowhere is a touching love letter to an enigmatic young man who was simultaneously ‘a sweetheart, a scamp and a scoundrel’ and who was blessed with the support of a family who loved him unconditionally.”

                                                                                   Brian Brennan, Calgary AB

                                     National Post and Calgary Herald best selling author                                                                                                 



“I admire the grace with which you tell the story of your life with Doug and I am in awe at your ability to write about it.”

                                                                                              Marje Wing, Calgary AB

“You have shared such a profound and emotional journey through your book that I am without words.”

                                                                          Carole Ferguson, Pincher Creek AB

“I read it and then read it again and still pick it up and read random sections.”


                                                                                           Dixie King, Three Hills AB

“Your book is wonderfully written and a powerful tribute to Doug.”

                                                                                    Catharine Warren, Calgary AB

“I believe the honesty of the book is so very important. It is Doug’s truth that offers such respect to him as a person who made a difference — not just to your family but to the people he did touch when he was alive.”

                                                                                    Darlene Acton, Edmonton AB

“You certainly are able to express yourself well, as this is truly an outstanding true story that has some healing for all of us as your words flow.”

                                                                                              Carol Liddle, Calgary AB

“I think you have understated the significance of your journey with Doug when you title your book “Steps to Nowhere.” I think it might well have been called “Steps to Somewhere. ‘ It feels to me like you certainly managed to move yourself, and other members of your family, to a better place of understanding and acceptance of what happened, and the ability to savour the good times and good memories of Doug. That’s a good “Somewhere” to be, and I trust and believe that many others who read your book will find it gives them the courage and the strength to start their own journeys to better “Somewheres.” Thank you, Eleanor, for a beautiful and passionate book. I will re-read it many times.

                                                                                              Bob Liddle, Calgary AB

You have a real gift for inviting a reader into your mind and experience. It is a story that needs to be told.

                                                                                Rev. Stan Errett, Balderson ON

What was most touching to me was your honesty — how you despised Doug’s problem of alcohol dependency, yet found so much to love about him.

                                                                               Susan Malachowski, Tucson AZ

Doug must have known how well loved he was, but his life was so painful, both physically and emotionally. You have told of that with little to no sentiment, but with such an embracing heart and loving mind.


                                                                                          Mary Nelson, Duncan BC


Steps to Nowhere is available at the following

independent bookstores in Calgary:

Pages Books on Kensington

Owl’s Nest Bookstore in Britannia Shopping Centre


“... a warm and funny family history. Eleanor King Byers proves scandal isn’t necessary to liven up one’s memoirs. With a keen eye for relevant detail, she has captured the essence of growing up in Calgary in the 1940s and ’50s.” 


               David Bly, The Calgary Herald

                           Friday August 15, 2003

   “What fun I’ve had reading your book! I’m astonished at your ability to tickle details out of your memory and then articulate them. You make my foggy recollections become vivid. Even allowing for research, your recall must be prodigious. I especially enjoy your lightheartedness, somehow appropriate to that stage of our lives. Thank you so much for this delightful experience.”                                            

                                                                         Joan O’Reilly, Owen Sound, ON

    “I congratulate you for having put in the time and energy necessary to research, network for, and write the history of the Calgary we grew up in and make it live so tangibly once again.”                                                                                  

                                                                               Allan Sheftel, Vancouver BC

    “The House With The Light On was a joy to read. We are the same age and had much in common. Even the title could have applied to our house as well. My teenage years were spent in Halifax. While I was drawn to the content, I was also impressed with your engaging writing style.”                                                    

                                                                                 Linda Braine, St. Johns NF

    “Your book has arrived, and I have read it cover to cover! As I progressed, I had the sense of seeing the pages of my own mind, many of which have been stuck together and consequently unread for ages, opening one by one, displaying long-forgotten images of our life in Scarboro... Thank you, Eleanor, for bringing my childhood to life once again! Thank you for writing and publishing this wonderful book. I have read many chapters twice, and I shall re-read them again.”                             

                                                                                 John Macleod, Victoria BC

    “What a wonderful book. I read ’til the wee hours two nights in a row because I couldn’t put it down. The book will be a real classic.”                   

                                                                       Jean MacGregor, Edmonton AB

    “Marg sent me your wonderful book, which arrived yesterday, and I have been laughing and crying ever since while reading it. What a special gift you have given us and what a special gift you have in your ability to write!”                

                                                                                  Marg Walker, Victoria BC

    “I have enjoyed every page. I was born in 1921 so I am older than you, but I lived near you in the Beltline/Connaught district and had many similar experiences. I called on your house to sell Liberty Magazine to your parents. Congratulations! You are a good writer apart from the subject matter, which should interest any Calgarian of my age, or yours.”

                                                                                       Ken Penley, Calgary AB

     “Your book will be cherished by everyone who reads it, and wishes, as I do, that some of this life in the 40s and 50s would return to console us all. Many thanks for your hard work — it’s a treasure.”                                   Barbara Shiels, Vancouver BC

    “ I have just read your book and felt moved to write to you. It was so much fun to read, and I found I had to keep reading, which meant I was up until 2:30 a. m. It was great remembering the Calgary I grew up in, and so many names had a familiar ring. You have a lovely talent for writing, and I’m so glad you wrote down your memories. Thanks for sharing all this.                                                            Carol Liddle, Calgary AB

    I love the book and am savoring it page by page. (It’s such a pleasure to be introduced to a character or circumstance and find a photograph the moment one’s curiosity is aroused!) You’ve created something beautiful and memorable... I especially appreciate the way you don’t sugar-coat things, but illuminate them with affection and compassion.”

                                                                             Enoch Anderson, Hollywood CA                                                                                     

The House With The Light On

A native Calgarian returns to the forties and fifties—            

days of unlocked doors and carefree adventure

published 2003
Calgary Bestseller

    The House With The Light On is a native Calgarian’s memoirs of her childhood and youth during the forties and fifties in her beloved city.

    Eleanor King Byers takes you on a whimsical romp through her schools, church, playgrounds, sports arenas and movie theaters, stopping for a cup of tea at her family’s noted restaurant of the time, the Tea Kettle Inn. Her grand tour is enriched with vintage photographs, memorabilia and updates on the current status of her old haunts.

    Meet Eleanor’s cast of characters as they hunt porcupines in the coulee, climb the Calgary Zoo’s famous Dinny to the top of his head, and bury their shoes in William Roper Hull’s garden.

    Join the King family at their home on Scarboro Avenue for a rollicking game of “Tip It” after Christmas dinner or a heated game of croquet in the backyard on a summer night. It’s the house with the light on.


soft cover with French flaps — 221 pages 
photographs throughout           $20.00

   my first book