A story of struggle and perseverance

Adrian Payne’s book to be released later this year

Published on March 2, 2017

At the age of 15, Adrian Payne of Cow Head dropped out of school. Over 60 years later, he’s about to become something he couldn’t have imagined at that time: a published author.

Life on the Northern Peninsula Looking Back, a collection of autobiographical short stories written by Payne, 76, is set for release sometime this summer. Taken together, he says, the tales compose his life story.

It is his first book.

“I think I did all this because I knew very little about my grandparents on my father’s side, and I thought ‘if I don’t tell my story, who is going to tell it?’” he says. “I wanted to give a perspective on my life of growing up on the Northern Peninsula”

Payne is aware that his grandchildren will never have to live through such “tough and hard” times when there was, for instance, no indoor plumbing and no running water.

Now, through this book, the knowledge of this kind of life can be passed on.

“I hope my grandkids will learn something from the experience that I went through,” he says. “Maybe it’ll help them with some of their struggles through life.”

Payne was born in Parson’s Pond, but moved to Hawke’s Bay and, later, Cow Head, during his childhood years. The book begins back as far as he can remember, at age four.

Life, he says, was often a struggle just to get ahead. His greatest regret was quitting school since that made it even tougher.

He recalls moving to the mainland for a time, to the “land of milk and honey” but found that his lack of education was an obstacle.

“There was no milk and honey up there for me with little education,” he says.

So he came back to his home province, ended up working in Labrador for the Iron Ore Company for a time, ran a successful fishing enterprise, and ended up back home in Cow Head operating an outfitting business. He ran this until he sold it seven years ago.

More recently, Payne has been doing a bit of travelling, partaking in recreational hunting as far away as Africa and New Zealand.

“I met some wonderful people who gave me the opportunity to travel and do things that I never dreamed of,” he says.

In his “den” at his home in Cow Head, there are more than 50 mounts on the walls, trophies from his hunts.

Along with earlier struggles, the book documents later successes such as these.

In the end, Payne thinks he ended up doing “pretty well for a guy with no (formal) education.” In fact, he says the narrative pieced together demonstrates how life, itself, became his education.

Payne is also exploring literature beyond prose writing, currently working on a collection of poetry.