Awards Finalists announced for Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Competition

Finalists announced for Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Competition

The British Columbia Historical Federation is pleased to announce this year’s finalists for the annual Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Competition. The 2021 book awards gala will take place online on June 5 at 7 p.m. The award celebrates books that make significant contributions to the historical literature of British Columbia. Congratulations to all the finalists whose works keep British Columbia’s rich history vibrant and relevant.


Pioneer Churches of British Columbia and the Salish Sea: An Explorer’s Guide

Author: Liz Bryan

Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

For many European settlers who arrived on Vancouver Island in the late 19th century, building a church was as important as establishing a homestead or erecting a school. The church was the heart of the community. Today, although demographics have shifted and church attendance has waned, many of those early structures are still standing.

Pioneer Churches of Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea features more than 40 surviving churches whose construction dates back to the 1800s. It explores the architecture; the local history of the area; and the stories of the builders, worshippers, clergy members, those who are buried in the adjoining graveyards. Divided into geographical sections — Victoria, Esquimalt and the Saanich Peninsula, the Cowichan Valley, Salt Spring Island, Central Vancouver Island, and the North Island — this book is a beautifully photographed, easy-to-follow guide for anyone interested in exploring these architectural treasures and learning more about the history surrounding them.

Liz Bryan is a journalist, author, photographer, and co-founder of Western Living magazine. Bryan has written several books, including River of Dreams: A Journey through Milk River Country, Stone by Stone: Exploring Ancient Sites on the Canadian Plains, and Country Roads of Western BC: From the Fraser Valley to the Islands.

A Great Revolutionary Wave: Women and the Vote in British Columbia

Author: Lara Campbell

Publisher: UBC Press

A Great Revolutionary Wave rethinks the complex legacy of suffrage by considering both the successes and limitations of women’s historical fight for political equality. That historical legacy remains relevant today as Canadians continue to grapple with the meaning of justice, inclusion, and equality.

This book is for readers interested in women’s history, British Columbia history, or the history of women’s fight for political equality, including secondary school and university students. It will also find an audience among those concerned with gender equality and social justice.

Lara Campbell is a professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Simon Fraser University. Her publications include Respectable Citizens: Gender, Family, and Unemployment in Ontario’s Great Depression, which received honourable mentions from the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Women’s Studies Association. She is a co-author, with Willeen Keough, of Gender History: Canadian Perspectives, the only textbook in the field of Canadian gender history.

Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow

Author: Catherine Clement

Publisher: Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia

Chinatown Through a Wide Lens: The Hidden Photographs of Yucho Chow, is the story of one remarkable, early photographer whose work was almost forgotten. Yucho Chow was Vancouver’s first Chinese commercial photographer and its most prolific. His lens captured thousands of faces of all skin colours, religious beliefs and backgrounds and chronicled a tumultuous time in Vancouver’s and Canada’s early history. This limited-edition, coffee table book displays 344-pages of long-hidden, community photographs taken by Yucho Chow Studio. The private images showcase the different, marginalized communities that Yucho Chow chronicled in his lifetime, as well as the remarkable stories that accompany these photographs. In English and Chinese. 

Catherine Clement is a community curator and designer based in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Her work focuses on uncovering and sharing the lesser-known stories of the community.

British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer

Author: Claudia Cornwall

Publisher: Harbour Publishing

Like many British Columbians in 2017, Claudia Cornwall found herself glued to the news about the disastrous wildfires across the province. Her worry was personal: her cabin at Sheridan Lake had been in the family for sixty years and was now in danger of destruction. Presented in British Columbia in Flames are stories that illustrate the importance of community. During the 2017 wildfires, people looked after strangers who had no place to go. They shared information. They helped each other rescue and shelter animals. They kept stores open day and night to supply gas, food and comfort to evacuees. This memoir, at once journalistic and deeply personal, highlights the strength with which BC communities can and will come together to face a terrifying force of nature.

Claudia Cornwall is most recently the author of Battling Melanoma and Catching Cancer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016 and 2013). Her book At the World’s Edge: Curt Lang’s Vancouver, 1937–1998 (Mother Tongue, 2011) was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award, and Letter from Vienna: A Daughter Uncovers Her Family’s Jewish Past (Douglas & McIntyre, 1995) was awarded the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. Cornwall has taught creative writing at Simon Fraser University for many years. She lives in North Vancouver.

Step into Wilderness: A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley

Authors: Deborah Griffiths, with Christine Dickinson; Judy Hagen & Catherine Siba

Publisher: Harbour Publishing

Step into Wilderness features never-before-seen photos from the Courtenay and District Museum collection, showcasing the growing community’s varied interactions with the wilderness they inhabit, from early hiking and skiing expeditions to encounters with wildlife, afternoon tea in the wilderness, beach races and early outdoor activity clubs. The collection also explores the ways in which inhabitants have altered the landscape, including K’omoks Bay fish traps and stump blasting to clear fields. These unique and arresting photos are complemented by equally engaging accounts of individuals surviving and thriving in the midst of natural beauty and great devastation, including survivors of the great fire of 1922 and pioneer skiers on Forbidden Plateau during the Great Depression.

Christine Dickinson is an educator with a passion for regional history. She co-authored Atlin: The Story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush (Atlin Historical Society, 1995), which received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award.

Deborah Griffiths is the executive director of the Courtenay and District Museum and has been involved in curatorship in the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island for over 40 years. She has an MA from Royal Roads University.

Judy Hagen has been writing her popular “Hunt for History” column for Comox Valley newspapers since 1992. She received an award from the Canadian Museums Association for her book Comox Valley Memories, published by the Courtenay and District Museum in 1993.

Catherine Siba is the curator of social history at the Courtenay and District Museum. She has led a number of historic digitization projects and has been involved with museum curatorship and research for many years.

Ernst Vegt, photo editor for Step into Wilderness, has spent 50 years in the graphic arts field specializing in colour reproduction and has taught colour reproduction at VCC, BCIT and Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.

Legacy of Trees: Purposeful Wandering in Vancouver’s Stanley Park

Author: Nina Shoroplova

Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

An engaging, informative, and visually stunning tour of the numerous native, introduced, and ornamental tree species found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, combining a wealth of botanical knowledge with a fascinating social history of the city’s most celebrated landmark.

Unlike many urban parks, which are entirely cultivated, the area now called Stanley Park was an ancient forest before Canada’s third-largest city grew around it. Tracing the park’s Indigenous roots through its colonial history to its present incarnation as the jewel of Vancouver, visited by eight million locals and tourists annually, Legacy of Trees is a beautiful tribute to the trees that shape Stanley Park’s evolving narrative.

Nina Shoroplova is a historian, researcher, photographer, and author. Born and raised in Wales, she immigrated to Canada in 1969 and settled for a time at the Douglas Lake Ranch, the subject of her first book, Cattle Ranch: The Story of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company. An avid walker, amateur botanist, and tree enthusiast, she lives three blocks away from Vancouver’s world-famous Stanley Park.

Silver Rush: British Columbia’s Silvery Slocan 1891-1900

Author: Peter Smith

Publisher: Self-published

Silver Rush tells the story of British Columbia’s “Silvery Slocan.” In the 1890s, mining camps like Sandon, Three Forks, Whitewater and their neighbours; New Denver, Silverton, Slocan City, Kaslo and Nakusp, thrived. Once the most productive mining region in British Columbia, prospectors and miners came from Idaho, Montana and other mining centres to reap the silver harvest. Capitalists flooded in from Spokane, Seattle, Vancouver, and investment centres across North America and the world. Plummeting silver prices, labour troubles and the Klondike gold rush eventually put an end to the silver rush but the legacy of that rush endures to this day.

Peter Smith was born and raised in Victoria and the Saanich peninsula on Vancouver Island. In the mid-1970s he moved to the Slocan, had breakfast at New Denver’s Newmarket Hotel, and was captivated by the region’s history. Part owner of a mining claim south of Silverton, he eventually moved back to Victoria. He retired as director of the province’s Information Access and Records Service Delivery Division in 2011. He lives in Ladysmith.

The BC Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded together with $2,500 to the author whose book makes the most significant contribution to the historical literature of British Columbia. The second place winner will receive $1,500 and third place, $500. One book will also be awarded the Community History Award, worth $500. Certificates of Honourable Mention may be awarded to other books as recommended by the judges. New this year will be a people’s choice winner selected by the audience in real time during the awards gala.

Attend the virtual 2021 awards gala on June 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at: