Margaret Ormsby, catalyst & mentor

As one of Canada’s first accredited female historians, Ormsby’s first desk as a professor in 1940 was in the women’s washroom at McMaster. Now she’s the namesake for The Ormsby Review. FULL STORY

Who’s Who

A is for Adams
After Shelley Adams’s first self-published cookbook in 2005, Whitewater Cooks: Pure, Simple and Real Creations from the Fresh Tracks Café, sold out its first print run, she sold her publishing rights to Whitecap Books, generating further success. But she and her husband opted to stick with self-publishing for her second book, Whitewater Cooks At Home, establishing their own imprint. Now, according to publicity materials, cumulative sales for her four Whitewater titles have eclipsed 200,000 copies, leading to her fifth, newly released title, Whitewater Cooks: More Beautiful Food (Alicon / Sandhill $34.95), due in early December.  978-0981142432

Dave Butler

B is for Butler
Born in Penticton, Dave Butler is Professional Forester, Professional Biologist, author and photographer who lives in Cranbrook. He’s also Director of Sustainability for Canadian Mountain Holidays, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Dave His first novel, Full Curl, a Jenny Willson Mystery (Dundurn $14.99) was short-listed for the Unhanged Arthur in 2015 (Crime Writers of Canada). In Full Curl, the first novel in a projected series. Park Warden Jenny Willson discovers trophy animals missing from Canada’s national parks. She initiates an investigation that leads her on a trail of deceit, distraction and murder. With the list of murder victims (both animals and human) growing, Willson’s trail leads her across the Canada-US border in a race for justice. 9781459739031

Johnny Cash with Richard Nixon

C is for Cash
Nanaimo journalist Julie Chadwick has helped The Man In Black’s manager in the 1960s and ‘70s, Saul Holiff, to posthumously present his recollections for The Man Who Carried Cash (Dundurn $19.95). The long-winded subtitle for this tale of a tempestuous but affectionate relationship is ‘Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and the Making of an American Icon.’ “From roadside taverns to the roaring crowds at Madison Square Garden, from wrecked cars and jail cells all the way to the White House… Saul handled the bookings and the no-shows, the divorce and the record deals, drugs, overdoses, and arrests. He was there for the absolute worst of times, but also for the best: Carnegie Hall, Folsom Prison, “A Boy Named Sue,” and Cash’s hit television series. But in 1973, at the zenith of Cash’s career, Saul quit. Until now, no one knew why.” After Saul Holiff committed suicide in Nanaimo in 2005, a vast archive of materials was left behind in a storage locker. “I came across the story when Saul’s son, Jonathan, completed a documentary about his father in 2012 called My Father and the Man in Black,” says Chadwick, a former entertainment editor at the Nanaimo Daily News. She was eventually accorded access to hundreds of personal letters, audiotaped diaries covering forty years, phone calls, original photos, gold records, clippings, booklets and posters. Holiff was one of the first promoters of many rock n’ roll artists in Canada: Bill Haley, Paul Anka, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly. He also managed Tommy Hunter and June Carter. 978-1-45973-723-5

D is for Dale
Carolyn Dale, a retired veterinarian and flight instructor, has self-published numerous mystery novels and an autobiography. A short story written under the pseudonym Anne Barton was a contest winner and 2001 and was published in Bloody Words, The Anthology. Born in Drumheller, Alberta, she grew up in Northern Idaho and moved to the Okanagan where she has been involved in Habitat for Humanity and the Anglican Church. Her Gail and Anton Schild mystery series includes Here Be Dragons (Carrick / Red Tuque 2017) which opens with a bloodstained knife being found in the Dragon Fountain on the grounds of Drayford Agricultural College, in Alberta. A professor has been murdered in his home and Gail and Anton Schild are the prime suspects because they were his dinner guests the night before. To prove their innocence, their investigations take them to Alberta sites such as the Drumheller dinosaur museum and the hoodoos. 9781772420647 $20.13

Eldon Yellowhorn

E is for Eldon
When the colony of British Columbia passed the Indian Graves Ordinance in 1865, it was the first public law to ban grave robbing, making all Indigenous cemeteries in B.C. into government property. Such facts arising from any events after 1492 are rare in Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People (Annick $16.95), an attempt by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger’s attempt to describe who Indigenous peoples lived in North America as far back as fourteen thousand years ago—before Columbus. Primarily based on archaeological finds and scientific research, Turtle Island is for ages eleven and up, with seminal myths opening each chapter. An SFU archaeology professor, Yellowhorn is a member of the Pikiani First Nation. 978-1-55451-943-9

Cynthia Flood

F is for Flood
Cynthia Flood’s new collection, What Can You Do: Stories (Biblioasis $19.95) contains 12 short stories featuring couples negotiating new terms for connection, travelers revealing old habits in new landscapes, lonely political lefties wondering why they just can’t win, and child-truths colliding with what the grown-ups – for selfish reasons – want to be the facts. These are uneasy but unflinching examinations of the ways adults deceive themselves and why: greed, desire for control, jealousy, fear, and ambition. Flood’s characters portray failures of the human heart with, as the book’s blurb describes, “a marvellous unsentimental brutality” that leaves “many a character unredeemed”. Flood was born and raised in Toronto. She came to British Columbia in 1969 (“one of my best life decisions”). She has been involved in the women’s movement, left-wing organizations, the anti-war movement, environmental projects and writers’ groups. For many years she taught literature and composition at Langara College, where she was also involved with union activity and women’s studies. 978-1-77196-176-9

G is for Grain
John Grain has self-published a memoir, Mod ‘n Lavender: Salt Spring Island in the ’60s ($18.95). Previously he was part of a consortium that operated the fishing resort at Glimpse Lake, near Merritt, from 1981 to 1987. With only two permanent residents nearby and the closest town fifty kilometres away, Glimpse Lake Lodge was located on a 160-acre parcel of land with 5,000 feet of waterfront. The Lodge could provide its guests with year-round access to streams pouring into pristine lakes. It had no difficulty living up to its 1940s’ slogan as a place “dedicated to the lovers of nature and the discriminating angler.” Grain’s story recalls the efforts of a collective consisting of seven families to make their enterprise viable. He and his wife, Kirsti, continued to revisit the site of their homestead that became Glimpse Lake Lodge, described in his first memoir, Flylines and Fishtales: The Story of Glimpse Lake Lodge (Caitlin Press, 2008). John Grain has been an avid sportsman since growing up on Salt Spring Island in the 1960s. He has been a public school teacher since 1976 and served as a Councillor on the BC College of Teachers. He was also a fishing guide and taught the CORE hunting program. 

Tomson Highway

H is for Highway
“When I was growing up,” writes acclaimed Cree playwright Thomson Highway in his remarkable prologue to From Oral to Written: A Celebration of Indigenous Literature in Canada, 1980-2010 (Talon $29.95), “the nearest centre of white civilization, so to speak, was Lynn Lake, a mining town seventy-six miles to the south as the crow flies. There being no road, one had to fly there, by bush plane with its pontoons in summer, its skis in winter. To us children, Lynn Lake with its population of some three thousand white people was the Emerald City: New York or Paris! All by way of saying that Indigenous languages on reserves like Brochet [pronounced Bro-shay, where he grew up on the Barren Lands First Nation in northern Manitoba] remain intact. To this day, there are people up there—my godmother, aunts, uncles, cousins—who speak no English. My mother didn’t speak it.” To this day Highway writes his plays in Cree. His overview of Indigenous Lit highlights most of the best-known works over four decades of growth until 2010; with notables from B.C. including Lee Maracle, Jeannette Armstrong, Taiaike Alfred, Joanne Arnott, Marie Clements, George Clutesi, Garry Gottfriedson, Vera Manuel, Eden Robinson, Harry Robinson, Gregory Scofield and Richard Wagamese. In the past decade indigenous literature has exploded. For a more comprehensive reckoning, you can find information pertaining to 252 indigenous authors in British Columbia alone by visiting the ABCBookWorld reference site. 978-1-77201-116-6

I is for Irani
In July of 2017, when the 13-title longlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi, it included Anosh Irani for his novel, The Parcel (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India). The prestigious 25,000 ($US) prize is named for its sponsor, the Delhi-based DSC Group infrastructure corporation. A shortlist of five or six books will be announced September 27 at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This winner will be announced at the Dhaka Literary Festival in Bangladesh on November 18.

Julie Paul

J is for Julie
Also a massage therapist and teacher, Ottawa Valley-raised Julie Paul, from Lanark, moved to Victoria and published her first collection of fiction, The Jealousy Bone, in 2008. Now her first poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom (McGill-Queens $16.95), has appeared as part of the Hugh MacLennan Poetry Series. Paul recently gained the spotlight when her second collection of twelve unsettling stories, The Pull of the Moon (Brindle & Glass 2014), received the twelfth, $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Prize, presented by City of Victoria acting mayor Chris Coleman and sponsor Brian Butler. The title was selected as a Top 100 Book of the Year by the Globe & Mail. Paul’s stories, poems and essays have been accepted for publication in numerous journals, including The Danforth Review, Little Fiction, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Event, The Fiddlehead, The Dalhousie Review, PRISM International, Qwerty, Geist, Vallum, existere, The Rusty Toque, Boulevard, Canadian Living, and in the anthologies Coming Attractions 07 and Women Behaving Badly. 9780773548992

K is for Knox
Marijuana in rats. Canada’s fertility rate. Swearing politicians. The best of Jack Knox’s humour columns for the Victoria Times-Colonist make for delightfully terse reading in Opportunity Knox: Twenty Years of Award Losing Humour Writing (Heritage $19.95). The subtitle is an oblique reference to the fact that his previous book Hard Knox was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour but didn’t win. His bio states: “Women adore him. Men want to be him. His hobbies including playing in a rock-and-roll band, being awesome and self-delusion.” 978-177203-208-6

L is for Lilburn
Tim Lilburn’s The Larger Conversation: Contemplation and Place (U. of Alberta $34.95) continues to trace a relationship between mystic traditions and the political world. He proposes nothing less than “a new epistemology leading to an ecologically responsible and spiritually acute relationship between settler Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and the land we inhabit.” It’s a work of environmental philosophy for engaged in the process of enhancing conversation between Indigenous peoples and settlers. 978-1-77212-299-2

Rafe Mair

M is for Mair
Born in Vancouver on December 31, 1931, former talk show radio host, Social Credit cabinet minister and lawyer Rafe Mair died on October 9, 2017, at age 85, just before he was able to see a copy of his eleventh book, Politically Incorrect: How Canada Lost Its Way and the Simple Path Home (Comox: Watershed Sentinel Books $26). Mair grew up in Kerrisdale and practiced law for 15 years in Vancouver and Kamloops before entering politics for five years with the provincial government of Bill Bennnett. Since he began writing at age fifty, he won the Michener Canadian Media Award, the Hutchison Award for Lifetime Contribution to BC Journalism and was inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame. 978-0-9953286-2-4

N is for Nishihata
Filmmaker, magazine editor and postumous author Jesse Nishihata was born Hideo Nishihata in 1929 in Vancouver, to immigrant Japanese parents and spent his childhood on Powell Street, the former Japantown, where his father owned a tin metal shop. He was thirteen when all of that was shattered during WWII with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His family was expelled from the BC coast and Jesse survived by working in the sugar beet farms of Alberta. Later, he completed his education in Montreal and attended graduate school in London. By the time Japanese-Canadians received an official apology from the Canadian government in 1988 after more than a decade of struggle for justice, Jesse was a well-established independent filmmaker who had been teaching film and media studies at Ryerson University and had already worked for 12 years as a contract producer for CBC. He brought the Japanese-Canadian internment story into Canadian homes as early as 1974 when he made Watari Dori: A Bird of Passage. After the Canadian government redress to interned Japanese Canadians, Jesse became the first editor of the Nikkei Voice magazine. Before he died, Jesse wrote wrote a diary of his experiences growing up on Vancouver’s Powell Street, in the year before the internment of Japanese-Canadians. His family has self-published Powell Street Diary: A Remembrance of Life Before Internment (Lulu, 2017) after Jesse Nishihate died in 2006 due to a long  battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. $13.98 9781387054060

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

Alison Watt

P is for Protection
Since 2016 there’s been a literary controversy arising from ex-Torontonian Amber McMillan’s critical book about her brief stay with her partner on artsy Protection Island, off of Nanaimo. Locals angered and offended by The Woods: A Year on Protection Island (Nightwood 2016) include Nanaimo’s beloved, ex-bookseller Thora Howell who sent an open letter, outlining how it was riddled with errors, to CBC host Stephen Quinn after he’d recommended it. The latest book from Protection Island is painter/biologist Alison Watt’s debut novel, Dazzle Patterns (Freehand $21.95), marking the centenary of the Halifax Explosion of 1917, also the subject for Hugh MacLennan’s debut novel, Barometer Rising. The Protection Island explosion continues. 9781-988298-18-4 [photo by Kim Waterman]

Q is for Queen’s
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. 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) from McGill-Queen’s in Quebec. 9780773551039

R is for Rode
Punjabi-born Ajmer Rode is a founding member of several Indo-Canadian literary and performing arts associations. He has written, directed and acted in plays of Punjabi theatre, and has published books in India and Canada, in Punjabi and English.  He is regarded as the founder of Punjabi theatre in Canada. He has also attracted attention in the U.S. with his poem Stroll in a Particle, which is one of the eight international poems inscribed on a public wall outside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation building in Seattle. His collection of poetry, Poems at My Doorstep originally published in 1990 has been re-issued by Ekstasis this year. $23.95 ISBN 978-1-77171-233-0

S is for Sarin
India-born screenwriter, director and producer, Vic Sarin (1945) has written a memoir EyePiece: Adventures in Canadian Film and Television (Durvile Publications + UpRout $35). It covers his childhood years in India after partition, emigration to Canada in 1963 where he started working at CBC, and his vast work in the film business including his recent films and documentaries. Sarin once said that it was the snow that drew him to Canada and he is known for his vivid shots of winter landscapes. An award-winning filmmaker, Sarin has worked on some of Canada’s best known films such as Bye Bye Blues (1989), Whale Music (1994) and Margaret’s Museum (1996). He won an Emmy for his camera work on the documentary Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (1992).  978-1-988824-02-4

Agnes Toews-Andrews

T is for Toews-Andrews
The second edition of Agnes Toews-Andrews’ newly expanded The Goddess Lives, Poetry, Prose and Prayers in her Honour (Isis Moon) recalls the author’s travels to matrilineal sacred sites “including her experience at the December 22, 2012 galactic alignment,” Mother Mary appearances in Jerusalem and Mt. Shasta, California, B.C.’s Center of the Universe experience (Bonaparte Plateau) “and stories of the ancient adepts, the 13 Spirit Grandmothers and Grandfathers of Time, initiations that humans must go through to reach enlightenment.” She has visited Aphrodite’s temple in Cyprus, Inanna’s Temple in Palmyra, Syria, the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and numerous sacred sites in England sacred sites. 978-0-9940026-1-7

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 Virag
After forty years making other people look good as an editor, Nancy Flight has won the inaugural Karen Virag Award which recognizes exceptional efforts by an individual or organization to raise the profile of editing in their community. The award is named for Karen Virag, a member of the Editors’ Association of Canada who died in 2014. Flight is currently associate publisher at Greystone Books.

Hillel Wright

W is for Wright
Hillel Wright has published the 30th anniversary issue of MiNUS TiDES international, a small literary magazine mainly from for Denman and Hornby Islands. It all began in 1987 as a one-off satire of Denman’s monthly magazine, High Tides, after the editor went on holidays. “The crew, in the Denman Island anarchist spirit, just went ahead and published MiNUS TiDES!,” writes Wright. “Like minus tides in Nature, we followed no predictable schedule. When we had 40 pages of good writing, we published.” The anniversary issue includes selections from previous issues Zella Clark’s memoir of her friendship with Canlit star, Margaret Laurence. Will there be more? “Hard to say,” he writes. “If 40 pages of good writing comes across the transom in the next 12 months – va pour ca?”

John Oliphant

X is for XII
The Nanaimo Museum continues to promote Brother XII with walking tours, special exhibits and talks. Meanwhile the mystical manipulator of lost souls–who established the Aquarian Foundation on Vancouver Island in 1927 at Cedar-by-the-Sea, south of Nanaimo, with adjunct settlements on DeCourcey and Valdes Islands—-will soon be introduced to two million viewers on the Travel Channel thanks to an upcoming episode about him for the program Expedition Unknown. The show’s head honcho Josh Gates visited DeCourcy with Brother XII’s foremost biographer John Oliphant, whose book will be featured on the program. Oliphant’s fascination with Edward Arthur Wilson, the English sea captain and occultist who notoriously became Brother XII (“Brother Twelve”) has been ongoing since long before he released his definitive biography in 1991. It was re-released as Brother XII: The Strange Odyssey of a 20th Century Prophet (Twelfth House Press, 2006.) 0-7710-4848-4

Y is for Yeyeh
Cree/Metis author and visual artist Julie Flett is a finalist for the $30,000 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for her latest book, Black Bear Red Fox: Colours in Cree Board (Garfinkel Publications),  a detailed explanation of how colour words work in Cree from the Cree Literacy Network. Simultaneously, set in the Nicola Valley, Nicola I. Campbell’s A Day with Yayeh (Tradewind $19.95), illustrated by Julie Flett, is a picture about a girl who spends a day gathering edibles such as herbs and mushrooms with her grandmother from the world around her. 978-1-926890-05-0

Charles Ulrich

Z is for Zappa
With more than 700 pages, The Big Note: A Guide to the Recordings of Frank Zappa (New Star $45) by Vancouver’s Charles Ulrich will provide intensely detailed liner notes — the book’s been over 15 years in the making — that every album in the protean and prolific composer’s oeuvre cries out for. It covers 100 albums recorded over 35 years and the 80+ players on them, with each one of 1,772 tracks described in detail, and is backed up by 1,424 citations. Ulrich attended Pomona College, where — like Frank Zappa — he was a disc jockey on KSPC–FM. He taught linguistics at ten universities in the United States and Canada Since 1994 he has been active in the on-line Zappa fan community — on,, and his own website, The Planet Of My Dreams.  The book is coming in 2018. 9781554201464




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