About the Author
With her husband she has spent over a decade as assistant lighthouse-keepers and stewards at the Cabot Head Lighthouse and Bird Observatory, located on the northern Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Her major published works of fiction include a novel, Perdita (which draws on her experiences at Cabot Head), and a short story collection, Dream Dresses.
She is also an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto.
On Writing Perdita
For much of her early life, Hilary spent her summers at a family cottage on southern Georgian Bay. At a very young age, she began taking long walks along the Bay’s rugged coastline and developed a deep and abiding love for the area. The cottage was sold when she was nineteen-years-old, and, broken-hearted, she spent many years separated from the Bay. Over ten years later, her husband would bring her out of exile by proposing that they become “assistant lighthouse-keepers” at the Cabot Head Lighthouse.
Their time at Cabot Head turned out to be a life-changing event: they kept coming back summer after summer, staying longer each time. Eventually they became “stewards” at the Nature Reserve where the lighthouse is located. It is here where Hilary Scharper decided that it was only through fiction that she could best express the extraordinary character of the place—both in terms of its wild natural beauty, as well as a haunting “conversation” seemingly going on between its past and present.