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Paul O'Brien profile

Paul O’Brien

Former long-haul trucker Paul O’Brien looked to Contact North | Contact Nord for help navigating online learning options
“I was bored sitting at home as I’d retired in 2019 and wanted to challenge my mind.”

Online Learning Centre
Cobourg, Ontario

Area of Study
Writing

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Writing his memoir helps retired driver keep on truckin’

Paul O’Brien spent most of his adult life on the road, having trucked through every major U.S. city from New York City to Los Angeles, from Miami to Minneapolis, and everywhere in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, clocking up more than four million miles over five decades.

Paul also spent decades studying, working toward both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity whenever he wasn’t behind the wheel.

But after retiring in 2019, Paul needed a new challenge — and retirement provided an opportunity to take the road less travelled.

“Don’t let your age stop you from taking a course that can improve your understanding of a particular subject. Knowledge equips you to do what you have not done.”

A storyteller and public speaker, he’d always enjoyed captivating an audience with true-life stories of his adventures. But he wondered: Could he write a story for print that would be equally compelling?

Having reached out to Contact North | Contact Nord’s Cobourg online learning centre early in 2020, Paul soon found out what options were available.

“I was bored sitting at home as I’d retired in 2019 and wanted to challenge my mind,” Paul recalls. “Wendy with Contact North in Cobourg put me in touch with Brampton Library, which was offering an online course on how to write your memoir.”

Paul found that it covered all the bases he needed to write his own memoir, with professional, thorough instruction and helpful critiques of every assignment.

“Having taken that course early in 2020, I began to write my memoir in March of the same year. I completed my book by October 2020: Big Wheels Rolling On was published in May 2021, and will hit the American market in time for American Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It certainly feels good to see a real book in your hands; one that you wrote and successfully self-published.”

Paul encourages others to follow his lead and explore the possibilities of online learning, wherever their interests lie.

“Don’t let your age stop you from taking a course that can improve your understanding of a particular subject,” he says. “Knowledge equips you to do what you have not done.”