Who We Are

Christine Cowley, Founder and Managing Editor

Christine CowleyChristine Cowley has been writing professionally since 1979, and is an author, collaborator, editor and/or publisher of over 25 books. In 2005, her passion for sharing life stories led to the founding of LifeGems Personal Histories to assist others in writing and production of personal, family and corporate histories.

Butchers, Bakers and Building the Lakers: Voices of Collingwood, authored by Christine and published by LifeGems Personal Histories in 2008, is an award-winning oral/pictorial history that weaves stories from many generations of Collingwood residents with narrative based on historical research. The book was awarded an IPPY Gold Medal for self-publishing in the category of Best Regional History–Eastern Canada, 2008; in 2010, Christine received the Fred Landon Award Certificate of Merit from the Ontario Historical Society for the best book on regional history in Ontario in the past three years.

Christine’s latest release is a two-book set entitled The Gift: Sharing Your Life Lessons with the People You Love Most and The Gift Companion Workbook, released in November, 2010. Workshops based on The Gift are available to help readers jump-start their legacy writing project.

Christine is currently writing a history of the Collingwood grain elevators and continuing her research into the Gowans' Home for Missionaries’ Children. You can read her blog here.



The Gift: Sharing Your Life Lessons with the People You Love Most and The Gift Companion Workbook; LifeGems Personal Histories, Collingwood, 2010.

Butchers, Bakers and Building the Lakers: Voices of Collingwood; LifeGems Personal Histories, Collingwood, 2008.

Test of Faith: Hope, Courage and the Prison Experience; Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, 2000.

Writing coach--workshops and one-on-one coaching.

Founder of LifeGems Personal Histories, specializing in corporate and family histories--writer, editor, micro-publisher, self-publishing consultant.

Keynote speaker, guest author & reader.


The Writers' Union of Canada.

Why Personal History?

JaredWhen I began writing professionally, I had two little boys, Andrew and Jared. I had so much material jostling for space in my head but never the time to just sit and write. Instead, I satisfied my need to write with whatever snatches of time I could find, writing the quickest, simplest thing I could get on paper. Most often, it was my own reflections on the day's events. I found that I could mine my day for material — just an everyday, nothing special day of a mom and kids — but they were stories and reflections that everyone could relate to, and I didn't have to dig and prod and refine —it was all there, little gems — just waiting to be plucked out of my day or my week and written down.

And those are the works that always ended up in print.

Those stories were real. They rang true with something that every other parent (or child) had experienced and so they struck a chord. I hadn't done anything special. I hadn't travelled to an exotic place; I hadn't even left the neighbourhood! I was just living an everyday life, but there were those moments — little dawns of insight that were special by their very ordinariness.

AndrewYears later, when my kids were grown and I turned to writing as my full-time career, I again, instinctively, began writing from my own life. It was what I knew. Eventually, I began studying biography. I became even more convinced that there really is nothing that I can invent that offers more interesting stories, or opportunity for insight than the tales found in the lives of real people — all sorts of people and all sorts of lives.

During my writing career, I have interviewed hundreds of people of all ages from diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. I have come to believe that the urge to tell a personal story, to communicate the facts, insights and revelations of one's own life is one of the cornerstones of the human experience. We are programmed to pass these stories on. And future generations will be hungry to listen, to understand, to learn.

Having recorded stories of lives that span the gulf between the horse and buggy and the advent of the internet, it is my firm belief that recording personal history has never been more important. How can we know who we are, understand where we came from, if the keepers of the stories leave us without ever having preserved their first-hand accounts of significant world times and events? We must collect, honour, preserve and pass on these treasures, lighting the path for future generations.

This conviction is the driving force behind LifeGems Personal Histories, a company devoted to helping people mine the gems of their personal experiences, record their recollections, and refine these into  compelling stories, a permanent legacy.

Remember — only you can tell your stories from the first person.