Most recent event

Tue. March 28, 2017, 7 pm
Ottawa Storytellers Tea Party Series
Tea Party Cafe, 119 York St., Ottawa

Why Stories

Stories and storytelling goes back to the dawn of modern man — at least 150,000 year ago. They were the educational tool, the history tool, the social tool and stories hold the collective memory of the tribe and clan who told them.

Nothing has really changed. Today we tell stories about everything. And we listen intently to stories told, stories read and stories watched on all out modern electronic devices. Stories are our all encompassing cultural DNA, the glue that holds everything together.

Stories in our age

Stories have not always appeared important. With the rise science in the 19th century the ‘truth’ of stories gave way to the scientific validity evidence found only in dispassionate examinations of facts and data, with endless arguments about bias factors. Victorian society appropriated folklore as children’s stories: bedtime reading was filled with morals and a happy ending. The Brothers Grimm rewrote and sanitized their collected tales through all seven editions published in their lifetimes. No nightmares, thank you.

In the 20th century stories then were dressed up in cartoon clothes as fairy tales for the movie theatre. The wolf was killed and the pauper married the prince or princess. Mass communications turned stories into slogans. The fast pace of modern society didn’t have time to listen to real stories. It was too busy being busy.

A stop to being busy

The stories never really went away. They just went into hiding in rural hills and small towns in the first world and villages everywhere else. In the last 30 years stories started returning to the lips of storytellers, returning to cities, both traditional tales and new stories. Academics and people alike acknowledged stories as basic to our understanding of everything. They’re in our blood: they’re in our brains. Even analysis of empirical data, quite useful in many fields of endeavour, benefits from story.

Brain Science confirms the story roots
Science in the last decade, especially the MRI machine, confirms our reaction to stories. When listening to a well told story the brain “lights up” in those areas of associated with emotion and empathy. We both learn and are motivated.

Humans are ‘hardwired’ for appreciating and learning from stories — not surprising given that oral storytelling, and listening, was the only learning method we had for the first 95% of our modern existence.

 How a storyteller is made – my path

I watched and listened as a man created a world in my mind, the vivid world of a blacksmith, of a smithy shop at the end of a bridge across a river from a hardscrabble town, a river in which lived a being who surfaced only at night then transformed itself, a tale about power, about beauty and alchemy.*

That man was an oral storyteller and I was hooked.

That was a magic night of storytelling at the 2010 Ottawa International Storytelling Festival. I joined the sponsoring organization, Ottawa Storytellers. After three months of listening at storytelling events, I told my first story, about a fire juggler. I then learned a classic Scottish folktale. I dabbled in all types of stories, modern to folklore to my own adaptations of print stories. And I listened to storytellers at every opportunity. I realized being a story listener was most important to mastering storytelling. Finally I settled into, as a performance storyteller, creating and telling local history stories and Scottish folklore. Hey, I have a famous “clan” name.

As I moved deeper into performance stories and storytelling,  I began to reflect a bit on stories. Like most people my age we started at fairy tales, then Dr. Seuss. I learned to read with little effort. By age 10 I was reading adult level historical fiction. I love history and ultimately completed a BA in history and art history. After university I travelled for a year then went to work in dramatic film as an assistant editor and in production. I wrote for public radio and magazines and ultimately ended a bookseller owning two stores for almost two decades.

It was as an entrepreneur with many time demands that I created Deliberate Reading. I didn’t have a name for it then. It is my informal method of parsing a book, fiction and non-fiction, for story, for technical development skills, and audience and sales potential. Deliberate Reading was important for my stores success. I needed a sound system as I was busy operating a second company selling bookstore inventory software in the age of first generation desktop computers.

In 1997 I sold the stores and created Digital Folios as a small business corporation at first providing writing, web sites and web content. Storytelling and stories are now my prime interest. I have always found time to volunteer, first on various business associations and then to advise on built heritage conservation, wetlands protection, even a museum board.

My interest in stories and storytelling has expanded to include cognitive reaction to story, narrative inquiry, and the impact of storytelling in applied situations. More about that can be found on the Story Literacy page.

Storytelling adds value to people’s lives, and I enjoy telling.

LinkedIn Profile

* The Blacksmith at the Bridge of Bones, by Ben Haggarty.





This is a story workshop for people who want to understand using stories and how to create compelling stories.

Workshop Outline
Opening stories
Some story lore
– Story triangle
– Your brain on story
– Develop of an impactful story
– Explore four core stories of organizations. Vision, Identity, Values, Change.
– The ethics of stories and storytelling.
– Other stories types to consider beyond the core.

This a participatory event with exercises and discussions.  

Further details will be emailed to participants about three days before the workshop.

– An understanding of stories and how they can be used.
– A formal introduction to stories in organizations
– A framework for creating influential stories for any medium; oral, written, or electronic.

This workshop will be a benefit to people in organizations be they for-profit, non-profit, or institutional. The workshop is a SAFE ZONE. We come together to learn, to create, and to struggle to do so. Remember. Stories can only be told by people to other people. So this workshop is all about people.

How do stories work, and how can YOU work with stories. That’s what StoryLiteracy® is all about.

I am creating a series of workshops for interested people in organizations and business to understand the science of stories and the art of creating them.

Put your name on the email list by contacting for more information when it becomes available.


About Digital Folios Inc.

I started Digital Folios Inc. (DFI) way back in 1997 (after selling the bookstore) to pursue opportunities in communications with a particularly interest, originally, in CD-ROM production and the Web.

Today DFI provides storytelling, writing, editing, research and web content services.

In recent times DFI has edited book manuscripts for private publication and collaborated (research and writing)  on an interactive map project about the War of 1812 for the fort visitors centre at Fort Erie, Ontario.
In the past 19 years I have, through DFI:

  •  written and edited millions of words of web copy, and a lot of print copy too, in a variety of styles.
 worked in-house for over three years on the Canadian Army national web team as Web Content Coordinator and Senior News Editor

  •  Editor-in-Chief of This Week @ IC, national employee newsletter, Industry Canada (government ministry)
 developed complete websites, from scratch in Dreamweaver
 interviewed senior executives and government bureaucrats for websites and situation reports
 researched best web practices reviewed and critiqued websites per contract

  •  participated in research concerning online user experience (UX)
 edited book manuscripts for private publication.

DFI has completed projects for (alphabetic order);

 Canadian Museum of Nature
 The Canadian Bank Note Company Limited, (security printing)
 Communications Security Establishment Canada (government agency)

  •  (Former) City Councillor Clive Doucet (Web administrator/advisor for 12 years, Web, social media manager for his 2010 mayoralty campaign)

  •  Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada
 First Stage Talent Agency
  •  GAPC – General Assembly Production Centre (video and media production
  •  Industry Canada (government ministry)
  •  Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario)
 Pentor Communications Inc. 
 Public Works and Government Services Canada, (government ministry, repeat assignments)

Digital Folios Inc. continues to be the contractor of record for projects initiated through

Digital Folios Inc. is registered with the Government of Canada small business procurement program,  (account number on request).

Contact Me

murray [at]

+1 613-726-7300

Ottawa, Canada