Mining memories of mining families

A long-time resident of Balfour on Kootenay Lake, the late Shirley Stainton (at left, with brother Ray) has left behind a heartfelt memoir of West Kootenay working class lives, reviewed by Sylvia Crooks. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

A is for Antifa
Widespread media coverage of the neo-Nazis in North Carolina last summer shocked many people. Some anti-fascist protestors (also referred to as antifa movements) fought the rascist neo-Nazis back and risked their lives to do so. Nevertheless, Neo-Nazis took inspiration from support received from the American president. For his part, Indigenous writer, artist and activist Gord Hill created a graphic non-fiction book, The Antifa Comic Book (Arsenal Pulp $19.95) documenting the clash of fascism and antifa movements over the past 100 years. Hill is also the author of The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book (Arsenal ) and The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book (Arsenal). He has been published in numerous periodicals including Briarpatch, Canadian Dimension, Redwire, Red Rising Magazine, Seattle Weekly and Broken Pencil. Gord Hill lives in New Hazelton. 978-1-55152-733-8

Gord and Ann Baird

B is for Baird
Gord and Ann Baird are the owners and co-creators of an internationally recognized Eco-Sense home in Victoria. Its building occurred when greywater, rain water harvesting, compost toilets, and earthen architecture were still on the fringes of cultural acceptance, not yet supported by local regulations. By challenging the codes and regulations in a logical, informed and respectful manner, they created the first legal, seismically-engineered, two-storey load bearing cob home in North America. It became the first Eco-Sense home audited within the Living Building Challenge (LBC) project. The LBC is the most challenging green building rating system globally, and the Baird’s home was the first to achieve petal recognition leading to the status of “World’s Greenest Modern House” for a number of years. From wastestream to mainstream, the Bairds have flushed forth their knowledge in Essential Composting Toilets: A Guide to Options, Design, Installation, and Use (New Society $39.99). Gord Baird is the Water Commissioner for the Victoria Capital Regional District’s regional Water Supply Commission and Juan de Fuca Water Distribution Commission. He was a technical editor for the BC Ministry of Health’s Manual of Composting Toilets and Greywater Standard Practices (2016). Ann Baird works on regional climate action initiatives involving water, food, and energy resiliency in climate adaptation and risk management. 9780865718722

C is for Correy
Acclaimed endurance cyclist and Rocky Mountain Books author Ryan Correy died of cancer on April 28, 2018 at his home. As an indefatigable promoter of cycling and outdoor adventure, he founded Bikepack Canada and recently revised his 2015 RMB memoir A Purpose Ridden, to include his marriage and updates on his extensive career as a long-distance competitor throughout the Americas. Due this summer, his posthumous Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies (RMB $25) will share his passion for some of his favourite backcountry cycling trails. It outlines ten ambitious, multi-day routes complete with directional cues, detailed maps a “Bikepacking 101” section for newbies. 9781771602372

A.J. Devlin

D is for Devlin
In his debut mystery, Cobra Clutch (NeWest $18.95),  A.J. Devlin introduces his fictional character “Hammerhead” Jed Ounstead who is adjusting to life after the pro-wrestling world. Hammerhead is now a bar bouncer and errand boy for his father’s detective agency. The book uses humor and gritty realism and includes a former tag-team partner, a kidnapped pet snake, sleazy promoters, and violence inside and outside the ring. “As the venom of Vancouver’s criminal underworld begins to seep into Jed’s life, a steel chair to the back of the head is the least of his problems.” Devlin grew up in Greater Vancouver before moving to Southern California for six years where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from Chapman University and a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting from The American Film Institute.  Devlin lives in Port Moody.  Photo by Gina Spanos. 978-1-988732-24-4

Jackie Kai Ellis

E is for Ellis
Last year Heather Ross, who runs a décor boutique on Fir Street in Vancouver, published The Natural Eclectic: a Design Aesthetic Inspired by Nature. Now, her next-door-neighbour entrepreneur, Jackie Kai Ellis, owner of Beaucoup Bakery, has published The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris (Random House $24.95). In the style of Eat, Pray, Love, Ellis’s memoir details how her life spiralled when she suffered with crippling depression. Despite having a handsome husband, a successful career and a beautiful home, she left it all behind to travel to France, Italy and the Congo Republic. After attending pastry school in Paris and eating perfect apricots in the Tuscan hills of Italy, she returned to start her own critically acclaimed bakery, Beaucoup. Her marriage didn’t survive her evolution.  9780147530394

Her Excellency presents the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) to Merna Margaret Forster.

F is for Forster
When she was mainly known as an astronaut, Julie Payette wrote the foreword to Merna Forster’s second book, 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces. Forster later launched a campaign to include images of notable Canadian women on our banknotes with a petition and website where Canadians could suggest worthy candidates. That led to rights activist Viola Desmond being chosen to appear on the ten-dollar bill. This year, as Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette presented a Meritorious Service Medal (M.S.M) to Forster in Victoria. In 2016, Forster also received the 2016 Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media, known as the Pierre Berton Award.

John Gilmore

G is for Gilmore
Thirteen years in the making and described as a hybrid novel , John Gilmore’s self-published The Broken Notebooks (Ellipse Editions $28.50) merges fact and fiction, prose and poetry, interviews and readings that include Robert Bringhurst’s derivations from the works of Haida storytellers.The protagonist searches for insights into the prehistoric marble carvings known as the Cycladic figurines–female figures with folded arms and blank faces that have inspired painters such as Picasso and Modigliani. During a research trip to Greece in 2005, GIlmore tramped around remote hillsides on the Cyclades looking for looted prehistoric cemeteries where figurines were buried with the dead. 9780986786624

H is for Hoogland
Cornelia Hoogland’s long poem sequence Trailer Park Elegy (Harbour $18.95), recalling summers at Deep Bay with her brother, has been shortlisted for the League of Canadian Poets’ 2018 Raymond Souster Award. Responding to her brother’s sudden death, Cornelia Hoogland explores “the shift in gravity his dramatic absence creates” while incorporating her child-experiences of death, literary references, chaos theory, dark matter, geological time and the effect of noise pollution on whales. “I kept talking with my brother,” she says. “Writing enabled me to hear what he had to say to me.” The winner will be announced in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at the League’s awards ceremony.

The Ignaces with their extended family.

I is for Ignace
The sixth annual celebration of the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia was presented on May 31 at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre to honor this year’s prize winners, Dr. Marianne Ignace and Chief Ronald E. Ignace, authors of Secwepemc People, Land and Laws – An exploration of Secwepemc history told through Indigenous knowledge and oral traditions. Their book has been described as a model for collaborative approaches to Indigenous history that draws on Aboriginal sources and the work of outside experts to masterfully integrate oral histories and ‘western’ scholarship. The event began with an official welcome from Morgan Guerin, Councillor of the Musqueam Nation, followed by opening remarks from University Librarian Susan E. Parker, speeches from the winning authors and a lively Q&A session. In a surprise announcement, the prize amount of $1,000 was doubled this year to $2,000, thanks to the generous support of donors. Reception attendees included supporters, friends and family of Stuart-Stubbs as well as past prize recipients Arthur Ray and Jean Barman. [Photos by Paul Joseph, UBC]

J is for Jones
Shilo Jones could very well become the best novelist ever born in Bella Coola. On the heels of Charles Demers’ comic crime novel about the effects of escalating real estate prices in Vancouver’s Lower Mainland, Property Values (Arsenal 2018) comes newcomer Shilo Jones’ equally dark critique, On the Up (M&S 2018 $24.95), a tense tale of three disparate characters who are involved in a shady condo property deal in North Vancouver: Coping with PTSD, Mark is an Afghanistan war veteran who has left his wife and child in Thailand in order to repay a debt to his nefarious brother. Although he’s co-founded an environmental investment company, Carl “Blitzo” Reed is a drug addict who, like a huge percentage of Vancouverites, is caught up in the ecology of greed. Jasminder is an aspiring investigative journalist who tries to stay high-minded within realty-mad maze of Vancouver’s otherwise micro-managed streets, while sharing a one-bedroom apartment with her mom. After a rural upbringing, Shilo Jones attended high school in the Lower Mainland and tried UVic’s creative writing program before he realized it would be a better idea to first grow up and have something worthwhile to say. Instead he used his hands to work as a tree planter and stonemason. After getting an BFA in in Visual Art and Cultural Theory from SFU, during which time he contributed some essays to some local gallery catalogues, he travelled extensively with his wife in Asia and Africa, enrolled in UBC’s MFA program and then got picked up by the Dean Cooke Agency in Toronto. As a stay-at-home father in Kelowna, he has expressed an increasingly common love/hate relationship with Vancouver within a novel that is pitched as a blend of Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard. If you can’t play in the high stakes poker game, disparaging it comes naturally. But he says he misses living in Vancouver. 978-0771049101

Tima Kurdi

K is for Kurdi
Describing herself as a “nobody hairdresser” in Coquitlam, Tima Kurdi, the aunt of two-year-old Alan Kurdi—whose death on the tideline in Turkey in 2015 awakened the world to the plight of Syrian refugees—has produced The Boy on the Beach: My Family’s Escape from Syria and Our Hope for a New Home (Simon & Schuster $32). She and her brother Abdullah, Alan’s father, now promote awareness of refugees with the Kurdi Foundation. “When you saw the photograph of that little boy, my dear nephew Alan, dead on a faraway shore, you became a part of our family,” she writes. “You shared our horror, our heartache, our shock, and our outrage. You wanted to save him, but you knew it was too late. In your grief, you reached out, and by doing, you grabbed hold of my hand and pulled me to you. You joined my family’s chorus of grief. You helped save me from drowning.” The family memoir is due in mid-April. 978-1-5011-7523-7

Fiona Tinwei Lam

L is for Lam
Fiona Tinwei Lam co-edited, with Jane Silcott, Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ins, Outs, Ups & Downs of Marriage (Caitlin $24.95), a collection of short stories and poems about the institution of marriage. It includes a story from Andreas Schroeder about him and life partner Sharon Brown, two people from the freewheeling 1960s who get married in 2007 after having lived together for more than 30 years and raising two children. He writes that while it is now fashionable to dump on the sixties, people forget how “anthropoidal” the fifties were. To make his point, he quotes “The Good Wife’s Guide,” published in Housekeeping Monthly in 1955, advising wives how to greet their husbands when they return from work: “Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Arrange his pillow, or offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. A good wife always knows her place.” After this quote, Schroeder pointedly comments, “I rest my case.”

Carol Matthews

M is for Matthews
Describing the final stage of her marriage in Minerva’s Owl: The Bereavement Phase of My Marriage (Oolichan $17.95), Carol Matthews cites both the philosopher Hegel and author C. S. Lewis. The title comes from Hegel who observed that the owl of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, only spreads its wings with the coming of dusk. That is, understanding comes late in life. And C.S. Lewis opined that “Bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases – like the honeymoon.” Finding the latter hard to digest at first, Matthews explores in her latest book how she eventually came to see bereavement of her long term relationship with her late husband as part of an ongoing relationship. It is the fourth memoir for Matthews. Her writings also include a collection of short stories. One of her magazine stories, “The Boat, as it Happened” won Prism International’s 2017 Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction. Born in Vancouver, Carol Matthews has worked as a hospital social worker, as executive director of Nanaimo Family Life and as an instructor and dean at Malaspina University-College, where she has continued as an honorary research associate. As of 2010, she was retired as Dean of Instruction, Human Services Programs and Community Education at Vancouver Island University. 978-0-88982-325-9

Emily Nilsen

N is for Nilsen
For her debut collection of poems, Otolith (Goose Lane $19.95), Emily Nilsen of Nelson has been longlisted for both the League of Canadian Poets Gerald Lampert and Pat Lowther Memorial Awards. According to publicity materials, “Otolith — the ear stone — is a series of bones that govern our sense of gravity, balance, and direction to help us orient ourselves.” Her book examines the ache of nostalgia in the world’s passage of time with poems “full of life and decay; they carry the odours of salmon rivers and forests of fir; salal growing in the fog-bound mountain slopes.” Born and raised in Vancouver, Nilsen was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2015 for a chapbook entitled Place, No Manual, after having been longlisted for the prize on three separate occasions. Her work has also been longlisted for the UK National Poetry Prize. 978-0-864929-62-4

O is Oghma
After a severe accident caused agnosia—the inability to recognize and identify objects or persons—Emisch Oghma of Victoria began studying and modernizing the ancient Chinese face reading system called siang mien. By being more observant and interested in people’s faces, Emisch was able to reduce the effects of agnosia, giving rise to his book, In Your Face (Agio $19.95), designed to show how anyone can quickly “read” their own face, their friends, family or co-workers. 978-1-927755-54-9

P is for People’s Co-op
People’s Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive in Vancouver has a new lease on life. Started in 1945, the bookstore has been located at 1391 Commercial Drive since 1983 and offers books on a myriad of subjects. At a special general meeting in January, co-op members approved a plan to develop a new foundation for the future. The stock of new, recently released titles has been expanded, while donations of used books will continue to be gratefully accepted and sold at the store. The ever-popular toonie shelves in front of the store continue to offer great deals to browsers. “As far as we know,” says Co-op board member Rolf Maurer, “the Co-op is the oldest bookstore in the country, not just Vancouver. We are unaware of any other store, apart from some university bookstores, that have continually stayed in business for this long.”

Q is for Quebec
It was Gordon Campbell’s regime that instructed ICBC to become more litigious when British Columbians try to get compensation as accident victims. Possibly it says something about his popularity, after a decade-long premiership that included the Winter Olympics, that the first critical book to examine his legacy isn’t B.C.-published. I have one director who has bailed, mostly cuz she lives out of town. But that is easily remedied when a first meeting is held. There is zero urgency at present. From the McGill-Queen’s imprint in Quebec, UNBC professors J.R. Lacharite and Tracy Summerville have gathered 368 pages of critical essays for The Campbell Revolution? Power, Politics and Policy in British Columbia (MQUP $31.46). 9780773551039

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

R is for Ramji
Former poetry and reviews editor for PRISM International, Irani-Indian poet Shazia Hafiz Ramji of Vancouver will launch her debut title, Port of Being (Invisible $16.95) with appearances at the Vancouver Writers Festival and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Its content examines migration, immigration, technology and B.C.’s urban housing crisis. Her first chapbook is Prosopopoeia (Anstruther Press, 2017). She has received the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and was a finalist for the 2016 National Magazine Awards. Currently she’s an editor for CWILA [Canadian Women in the Literary Arts], a national literary organization.978-1-988784120

Shirley Stainton in 1942

S is for Stainton
Born in 1927 on a prairie farm, Shirley D. Stainton (nee Hall) grew up in the Slocan Valley at a time when the region was mainly mining communities nestled in the valleys of the Arrow, Slocan, and Kootenay Lakes. Many of those communities are now ghost towns and it’s hard to imagine the hub of economic and social activity they once were. In her book, published posthumously, Children of the Kootenays: Memories of Mining Towns (Heritage $22.95), Stainton shows what a great place it was to grow up with wilderness and wild animals at her doorstep; and how the tight-knit friendships formed were enough to overcome barely imaginable struggles during the 1930s. She reveals little-known historical tidbits such as the Civic Centre at 719 Vernon Street in Nelson has been around long enough to become the oldest operating arena and skating rink in British Columbia. It’s where she learned the winter sport of curling in the 1940s. Stainton died in the month of January, 2018.  978-1-77203-185-0

T is for Tater
In her first collection of poems, This Will Be Good (BookThug $18), Mallory Tater writes about her feminism and struggles with an eating disorder. She also critically observes the suburbs of the Lower Mainland and nearby American lands, from Delta to Point Roberts, painting disturbing images of modern suburban life. She describes the latter as “a bruised thumb of American soil” and people in the former, “where Baptist women get regular perms, where palm trees rest in traffic islands, and a Walmart will soon sprout from the earth.” It is not only her own bulimia she notices. At a house moving party she writes of: “each room peopled with vodka-drenched carpet, vodka-shaped us, frantic to touch each other, not knowing who else doesn’t know how much their stomachs can hold,” knowing that she, “puked my mother’s cooking before, homemade broth and barley.” Mallory’s poetry and short stories have been published in literary magazines across Canada including Room, CV2, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, The Maynard, The New Quarterly, Qwerty, Carousel, Prism International and Arc Magazine. She was shortlisted for Arc Magazine‘s 2015 Poem of The Year Contest, The Malahat Review‘s 2016 Far Horizon’s Contest and Room Magazine‘s 2016 Fiction and Poetry Prizes. She was the recipient of CV2’s 2016 Young Buck Poetry Prize. Tater is a writer from the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg Nation (Ottawa). She lives in Vancouver and is the publisher of Rahila’s Ghost Press, a poetry chapbook press. Tater also works as a sessional poetry instructor at The University of Victoria. 978-1-77166-394-6

U is for Uphill
Previously a mayor of Fernie, Thomas Uphill was B.C.’s longest serving MLA from 1920-1960. His political career began during British Columbia’s Prohibition. Uphill opposed Prohibition on the grounds it restricted the average worker’s right to enjoy a well-deserved beer at the end of his working day. Uphill famously stood up in the Legislature and brandished a bottle of beer, declaring, “Beer is as necessary to the worker as milk to the baby… Hands off the workers’ beer!” Wayne Norton, author of Fernie at War: 1914-1919 (Caitlin $24.95), has been campaigning to get a plaque for Uphill installed at the Legislature in Victoria. At Norton’s book launch, at Swan’s Brewpub in Victoria, patrons will be able to enjoy a new beer named Thomas Uphill Amber Ale. The event commences at 7 pm at 506 Pandora Street on Tursday, October 26. 978-1-987915-49-5

V is for Valgardson
Having been made a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002, W.D. Valgardson received the Joan Inga Eyolfson Cadham Award in 2017 to recognize individuals who have been outstanding in the promotion of Icelandic culture and heritage by way of literature, arts, or media. William Dempsey Valgardson, a former UVic mentor of the late W.P. Kinsella, is now following his short story collection, What the Bear Said: Skald Tales from New Iceland (Turnstone 2011) with a gothic crime novel, In Valhalla’s Shadows (D&M 2018). l 978-1-77162-196-0

Lindsay Wong

W is for Wong
In her comedic memoir about the Asian immigrant experience in British Columbia, The Woo-Woo (Arsenal Pulp $19.95) 2018), due in October of 2018, Lindsay Wong describes her paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and her mother who fears Chinese ghosts, aka “woo-woo.” The subtitle is How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. The word Hongcouver is happily used. On a camping trip, in an attempt to rid her daughter of demons, her mother tries to light her daughter’s foot on fire. “It’s in the DNA and cultural beliefs of almost every village Chinese family to think they are being haunted by ghosts, gwei, every so often, especially if a new baby is born exceptionally ugly…” Lindsay Wong holds a BFA in Creative Writing from The University of British Columbia and a MFA in Literary Nonfiction from Columbia University in New York City. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in No Tokens, The Fiddlehead, Ricepaper Magazine, and Apogee Journal. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, she has been writer-in-residence at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City. Currently, she is working on a memoir about her crazy Chinese family.

X is for Xwi7xwa
With more than 15,000 items, Xwi7xwa (pronounced whei-wha) is a UBC library that was started in the 1970s for exclusively indigenous materials as part of the Indian Education Resource Centre. The name is also the Squamish work for echo. The collection later came under the care of the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP). A new head librarian will will be hired in February.

Onjana Yawnghwe

Y is for Yawnghwe
Xerography is a literary journal co-founded and co-edited by Onjana Yawnghwe, also co-founder of a ‘micro press’ for hand-made publications called fish magic press. Yawnghwe was born in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but is a part of the Shan people from Burma. She grew up in Vancouver, earned an MA in English literature, and received the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Literary Artist in 2012. Her first poetry collection, Fragments, Desire (Oolichan $17.95) has quickly led to The Small Way (Caitlin $18). Her handmade chapbook, The Imaginary Lives of Buster Keaton (JackPine Press), is a precursor to a book-length biography-in-poems about Buster Keaton, entitled The Book of Buster. Her poems have been featured in numerous anthologies and journals, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2011, 4 Poets, CV2, Room, Ricepaper, The New Quarterly, Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue) and Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press) edited by Yvonne Blomer and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham. Featuring work by Yawnghwe, Daniela Elza, Peter Morin and Al Rempel, 4 poets (Mother Tongue 2009 $18.95) was the first volume in a proposed series from Mother Tongue to highlight emerging poets. It included poetry drafts, interviews, author photographs, poetics and short biographies as well as translations of select poems into French, Thai, Bulgarian and Tahltan. Desire 978-0-88982-317-4 / Small 978-1-987915-77-8

Mark Zuehlke

Z is for Zuehlke
As the twelfth installment in Mark Zuehlke’s military history series, The Cinderella Campaign: First Canadian Army and the Battles for the Channel Ports (Douglas & McIntyre $37.95) describes First Canadian Army’s urgent and thankless mission of opening the Channel ports to Allied victory in World War II. They thought of themselves as the “Cinderella Army” and international correspondents agreed. This was because First Canadian Army had been relegated to the left flank of the Allied advance toward Germany from the Normany beaches and given the tough and thankless task of opening the Channel ports from Le Havre to Ostend in Belgium. Then suddenly in September 1944, securing these ports became an Allied priority that would allow Field Marshal Montgomery to drive to the Rhine with Operation Market Garden and win the war before Christmas. Over the month of September, the Canadians set about fighting for control of each port–a terrific undertaking fought against brutal German resistance–and scrambling for supplies while under constant military pressure to get those ports open now. For Canada this was the Cinderella Campaign, the battle for the Channel ports. For those who fought it, the sacrifice of comrades dead and wounded would never be forgotten. The Cinderella Campaign: First Canadian Army and the Battles for the Channel Ports ($37.95) is one of five shortlisted titles for the 2018 John W. Dafoe Book Prize, a $10,000 prize in memory of Canadian editor John Wesley Dafoe. 978-1-77162-089-5



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