Gerald Sliva brings Kuroki, Sask. hotel back to life in new book

Do you know where Kuroki, Saskatchewan is? Gerald Sliva sure does.

Sliva wants people to laugh, cry and 'think deeply about life and death'

Gerald Sliva has released his first book, Barking From the Front Porch. (Eric Anderson/CBC)

Do you know where Kuroki, Saskatchewan is? Gerald Sliva sure does.

The 71-year-old grew up in the tiny Saskatchewan town, and more specifically, in the Kuroki Hotel. Kuroki is about 230 kilometres east of Saskatoon, just north of Foam Lake.

Sliva has written his first book, called Barking From the Front Porch, and it's about what it was like growing up in a small-town Saskatchewan Hotel.

Barking From the Front Porch by Gerald Sliva.

"I was born during the (Second World) War in Regina and I was born on Groundhog Day," Sliva told Saskatchewan Weekend host Eric Anderson. "My dad was Staff Sergeant at the military hospital in Regina. After the war, he was going to be a farmer."

After a couple of years on the farm, Sliva's dad decided, "This really isn't as exciting as being in the army." So, Sliva said, he decided to buy a hotel in Kuroki. Sliva was only about four years old when they moved in, but he remembers what it was like very well.

"A lot of the rooms were taken up by family and several were rented out on a regular basis (by) travelling salesmen," he said. "There weren't many nursing homes in those days, so we had borders that would stay during the winter — old men or old women. They wanted a place that they could just be fed and watered during the winter."

Sliva, who now lives in Winnipeg, shared one of his favourite memories while in Saskatoon for a book signing.

"My dad has a tradition ... in 1950, on the anniversary of my mother's and his wedding, we went to get a portrait taken at Wadena studios," he said. "It could have fallen on a Sunday. It could have fallen on a national holiday. He had an appointment every August 31st. So we have photos every year from 1950 up to 1969 with the family growing each year."

Sliva jokingly said he initially wrote the book so his young nieces and nephews could reflect on their "crazy uncle" who wrote a book in his old age. In reality, he told his publisher it's a book of nostalgia that will evoke a lot of emotions.

"I wanted to make people laugh. I wanted to make them cry. And I wanted to help them think deeply about life and death," he said.

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