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Comox Valley crawling with writers

April 20th, 2016

Inspired by the City of Courtenay’s 100th anniversary, the Comox Valley Writers Society undertook to compile a reference book of the many authors associated with the region.

They set an initial challenge of finding 100 authors over 100 years but the project kept expanding and grew to include 180 authors over 150 years. Writers & Books: Comox Valley 1865 – 2015 (Poplar Publishing $22) is a comprehensive record of book authors who at one time or another lived in the Comox Valley. There are little known names covered in the book alongside renowned individuals such as Order of British Columbia honourees, Order of Canada honourees and even a Nobel Prize winner (Alice Munro, who began dividing her time between Clinton, Ontario and Comox in the late 1980s).

Jack Hodgins. Photo by Laura Sawchuk

“Through the writing of books, authors associated with the Comox Valley have contributed to science and discovery, history and the arts, spirituality and recreation,” writes the book editors, Terrance James and Christine Dickinson. “Some have been distinguished and honoured at national and international levels, others have written and published solely for the enjoyment of family and friends.”

Alice Munro, circa 1978

Alice Munro, circa 1978

Research was extensive and Writers & Books: Comox Valley 1865 – 2015 provides literary information that surprises even long-time followers of the B.C. writing scene, including author and publisher Alan Twigg who wrote the book’s foreword. “Yes, one expects to find Jack Hodgins and his mother Reta who wrote the local history of Merville,” says Twigg. “Yes, one expects and wants to see entries for Pamela Anderson and Kim Cattrall. But it’s the inclusion of unsung authors such as Betty Annand – with her books on pioneering families of the Comox Valley and Bevan – or Vera Arthurs – who wrote a history of Hornby Island from her pioneer’s perspective – that really turns my crank.”

James, Terrance and Dickinson, Christine book jacketAs noted in a blurb on the back page, the book finally answered a question that has plagued author David Carpenter, a two-time writer-in-residence at the Haig-Brown House in Campbell River: “In my many visits to Courtenay I often wondered how this small community could support such wonderful bookstores, when much larger communities cannot. Since reading Writers & Books: Comox Valley 1865 – 2015, I now have an answer to my question: the region has been crawling with writers for 150 years!”

The initial print run for Writers & Books: Comox Valley 1865 – 2015 is close to depletion but the Society anticipates a second printing.


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