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How does LifeStories work?

Who is LifeStories?

So whatís the LifeStories story?

LifeStories in the Media

What do people say about LifeStories?

How does LifeStories work?

First of all the subject has to want to be interviewed. Often people say, "Why would anybody want to hear my story?" Why, because this latest generation can barely imagine a time without computers, cell phones and instant messaging. You might know what it was like for your father to grow up on the farm or your great aunt to live through the war, but you can be sure your children donít. Preserving family stories is preserving family history. Life makes a lot more sense when you know where youíve come from.

Once a project is ready to go, LifeStories interviewer Bernadette Hardaker meets informally with the subject to outline the key events in his or her lifetime. Recorded interviews follow covering a wide range of topics and emotions.

"Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry. Questions are balanced to reflect lifeís ups and downs. No subject is too sensitive if it is handled with care and respect."

When the interviewing is finished, the recordings are transcribed and then become the foundation for writing the book. Clients are encouraged to review early drafts to make any revisions. A sampling of photos is often included. Then the books are printed and bound in leather or cloth hardcover with embossed titles, or hand-stitched, spiral or perfect bound in a soft cover. Quantity and type of binding determines price.

Who is LifeStories?

Bernadette Hardaker is the principal writer, interviewer and founder of LifeStories. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa (1977) and a Diploma in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge in England (1979). In 1980 she began a long association with CBC Radio One hosting morning shows in the Western Arctic, Northeastern and Southern Ontario. From 1985-1987 she travelled across Canada reporting on life in First Nations communities. Through the 1990s she did numerous freelance projects including a syndicated consumer column for CBC Radio One. Bernadette and her family moved to Dufferin County in 1988 where she continues to be an active volunteer in her community with organizations like the Dufferin Child and Family Foundation and the Orangeville Food Bank. In 2020 she retired as general manager of Theatre Orangeville after four years of service. She regularly moderates author panels and has returned to writing personal histories on a limited basis.

To produce her quality books, she works closely with a team of professionals including copy editor Janet Dimond, bookbinder Don Taylor, and book designer, Daniel Crack of Kinetics Design. Visit his website.

So whatís the LifeStories story?

Itís a familiar one: how to juggle family and career when work is a heavy commute away. The solution was to transfer twenty years of professional broadcasting skills to a locally-based business. In December 2001 a chance interview on Torontoís top-rated morning show, Metro Morning, with CBC Radio One host Andy Barrie injected life into the idea of LifeStories. Bernadette and her team have been busy ever since. To date they have worked on more than sixty projects.

"Doing LifeStories is one of the most satisfactory things Iíve ever done. Everybody benefits. My clients are honoured by their families knowing their stories are preserved. Families discover all kinds of things they didnít know about their loved ones, and I have the opportunity to meet fascinating people and learn history first-hand."

Bernadette discusses LifeStories in a Rogers interview.
Press play to watch this video.

LifeStories in the Media

In 2014 Bernadette had a chance to dust off her old radio skills and apply them to video by working on script and narration for Drew Morey's production of Every Town Needs a Doc, a 13 min. how-to guide to get things done in small town Canada by a community builder par excellance, Doc Gillies.

Toronto Star

Remembering Hazel Doran, who survived a hardscrabble childhood to take care kids and the sick

The Banner

Exploring Both Sides of the Story in Dufferin County

In the Hills

  • Our Keele River Adventure

  • Friends of Their Youth

  • The Homecoming

  • Becoming Stephen Leacock

  • Dinah Christie: Popcorn, Pauline & skinny dipping

  • Home Child

    In 2019, FM 101 Orangeville selected Bernadette as one of several Women of Influence in the community.

    What people say about LifeStories:

    "Reviewing my life and work with Bernadette was a most satisfying and revealing experience. We went places I never expected to go. The result was a book I am proud to share with my family and friends. Perhaps they know me a little better. I know I do."

    Ed M.
    Toronto, ON

    "Thank you for all your time, patience and experience in making our memoirs such a treasure."

    Margo & Mike C.
    Toronto, ON

    "Your comprehensive interview was conducted in a very professional, yet relaxed atmosphere; in fact, we looked forward to your visits. The final product has provided our family with many hours of conversation and enjoyment."

    Joyce & John M.
    Cambridge, ON

    "Dad was thrilled with the end product and it worked out wonderfully to have it to present to him for his birthday. My son told Opa he wants to hear him read the story to him, which I think touched my dad deeply."

    Jill S.
    Toronto, ON

    "Thanks for Mumís story. I have just read it through. I was in tears at the end. Well done."

    Jeff D.
    Georgetown, ON
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