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2024 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Winner

March 14th, 2024

Wayne McCrory is the winner of the $3,500 2024 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding scholarly book on BC, for his book The Wild Horses of the Chilcotin: Their History and Future (Harbour $39.95). The prize will be awarded to the author by the UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society at a reception that is set to be held in May.

McCrory’s book is a hardcover, complete with colour photos, that has been a mainstay on the BC Bestseller list throughout the winter, occupying the #1 spot for many weeks in a row. In his book, wildlife biologist Wayne McCrory documents his journey among the Tŝilhqot’in people in British Columbia’s Chilcotin Plateau, focusing on the cultural significance of wild horses known as “qiyus”. Drawing from oral histories and two decades of research, McCrory highlights the integral role these horses play in the ecosystem and the Tŝilhqot’in traditions. Despite government policies viewing them as intruders, McCrory advocates for their protection, emphasizing their resilience and genetic importance. He contrasts Tŝilhqot’in efforts to safeguard the “qiyus” with external pressures to cull them, underscoring the delicate balance between conservation and conflicting interests.

“Having grown up in a mining town in the West Kootenays, since I was a teenager, I always took the time to interview old-timers including trappers, miners and prospectors for their bush stories, which I recorded in notebooks. Out of this grew an infectious love of history and nature,” says McCrory.

“After I graduated from UBC in Honours Zoology and learned to write polished scientific reports and papers for my wildlife research, I still felt frustrated with a desire to write more popular narratives and even tried writing fiction for a while—but gave up as I felt stuck in a rut of being a polished technical writer,” he says. “I never imaged when I first went up to the West Chilcotin in 2001, much later in my career, to study grizzly bears that I would become so intrigued by the beauty, ecology, behaviour, origins and bloodlines of the wild horses, as well as the rich Tŝilhqot’in relationship to the horse, that two decades later I would publish a popular award-wining book on the wild horses.”

Wayne McCrory is a registered professional biologist, focusing on research of wild horses, bears and western toads. With over ninety scientific reports on wildlife and conservation, he has authored two technical reports on wild horses in both BC and Alberta. Collaborating with horse genetics expert Dr. Gus Cothran, McCrory has also contributed to two reports on the genetics of wild horses in the Chilcotin region. Residing in Hills, BC, McCrory shares a small farm with his wife, conservationist and journalist Lorna Visser.



The Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on British Columbia, sponsored by UBC Library and the Pacific BookWorld News Society, recognizes the best scholarly book published by a Canadian author on a B.C. subject. The book prize was established in memory of Basil Stuart-Stubbs, a bibliophile, scholar and librarian who passed away in 2012. Stuart-Stubbs’s many accomplishments included serving as the University Librarian at UBC Library and as the Director of UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies. During his exceptional career, he took particular interest in the production and distribution of Canadian books and was associated with several initiatives beneficial to authors and their readers, and to Canadian publishing. The other books shortlisted for the 2024 award were Sheltering in the Backrush by Jeanette Taylor (Harbour, 2023) and The Notorious Georges by Jonathan Strainger (UBC Press, 2023).

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