Previous winners

Jean Barman, French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest. UBC Press.


Centering on the French Canadian presence in the Pacific Coast’s post-contact, fur trade-based life, paying detailed attention to the fashion in which that presence was strengthened and sustained by connections with indigenous women and the family formations those connections produced, and placing strong stress on the Pacific Northwest’s pre-international boundary context in which these interrelationships took form.

Strongly grounded n little-consulted archival sources, possessing a critically important orientation towards both individual histories and the history of groups, and marked by an incisive orchestration of its notation and themes, it stands as a major transmitter of new information as well as a powerfully-structured agent of new ways of seeing the significance of the French Canadians in the making of British Columbia.


The shortlisted titles for the 2015 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia are:

Richard Beamish and Gordon Macfarlane, editors. The Sea Among Us: the Amazing Strait of Georgia. Harbour Publishing, 2014.

Book cover for the Sea Among UsInvestigating a complex, many-layered ecological system, bringing that system’s geology, marine life, plant formations, animal species, and human populations sharply into perspective, and combining rigorously arrived-at research outcomes with an embracing overall scheme, this book offers its readers an exemplary partnering of concentrated analysis and broad, general view.

Richly illustrated, complementing its expository strength with a brilliantly informative selection of graphs, tables, and maps, and marked by a crisp, pleasing layout and an attractive, appealing design, it adds significant visual appeal to its clear narrative strength. Pairing lucid exposition with an assured, capacious, reach, it epitomizes collaborative, public-oriented scholarship at that scholarship’s best. 

Nancy J. Turner. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnohistory and the Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014.

Book cover for Ancient Pathways Ancestral KnowledgeFocussed on the wide array of plant varieties in British Columbia, examining the place and significance these had in indigenous culture, and notably attentive to the medicinal and nutritive purposes such biota served, this book gives intricate forms of understanding rigorous explication and sharp, intelligible form.

Illuminating complex knowledge systems, deepening comprehension of the classificatory principles associated with them, and showing how notions of nature’s wholeness were constructed and refined, it especially sets out indigenous thinking’s sense of humanity’s interdependence with the world in which human beings live.

Exemplary in its handling of archaeological materials, deploying strong ethnographic technique, drawing on enviable measures of botanical data and expertise, and scrupulous in its handling of indigenous informants’ testimony and thought, it constitutes compelling confirmation of the scale and importance of a career’s seminal work.


David Stouck, Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life. Douglas & McIntyre.

Arthur Erickson’s life was a saga of contrasts and contradictions. An architect of international reputation, he was “Canada’s national treasure as a designer” who, at the height of his career, went spectacularly bankrupt despite lavish financial support from his admirers. He was a creator and, for new buildings, “his proposal [was] always more than you anticipated,” but he could not be bothered with either the mechanics of construction (such as leaking roofs), the mundane administration of an office, or financial restraint. Erickson partied with the international jet set but spent much time alone in a converted garage in Vancouver. David Stouck’s study, based on exhaustive research, details in well-written prose the manifold contrasts and contradictions. While some may question Stouck’s restraint in passing judgment, others will appreciate the author’s success in maintaining respect and even affection for Erickson despite the damning evidence that is presented.


The shortlisted titles for the 2014 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia are:


Robin Kathleen Wright, Daina Augaitis, Robert Davidson and James Hart, Charles Edenshaw. Black Dog Publishing.

book cover

Indigenous art of the Northwest coast is a glory in which British Columbians, whatever their origins, can take common pride. That art springs from and is intrinsic to the Indigenous cultures, but it was expressed and shaped through the achievements of individual artists. Among these men and women, Charles Edenshaw (c. 1839-1920) stands out due to his skills in art forms including metal, horn, argillite, wood and weaving, and the sheer beauty of his conceptual designs in all these media. Through stunning illustrations and accompanying text, with contributions from the artist’s descendants and close analysis of his artistic work and achievements, Charles Edenshaw makes manifest the central role that Edenshaw played in shaping Haida art forms – not just in his own lifetime but for succeeding generations, inspiring the work of Bill Reid among others. This work celebrates a British Columbian of outstanding artistic accomplishment.


book coverSean Kheraj, Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History. UBC Press.

Stanley Park, a jewel in the middle of Vancouver, is frequently perceived as an untouched, pristine wilderness. As the title of Sean Kheraj’s book proclaims, the park has been from its earliest days very much an invention.  The text shows how natural forces – from fire and storms to insect infestation and fungal disease – have combined with human practices, including forest management techniques, seawall construction, and roadway and sewage building, to shape a space that is in constant evolution. The text, enhanced by excellent illustrations, identifies and investigates the key external influences in this process, ranging from the political and the military to the legal and the economic. Thanks to this book, we can understand that Stanley Park exists as an ever-changing yet splendid invention by both humans and nature.

Derek Hayes, British Columbia: A New Historical Atlas Vancouver BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2012, 368pp.

Print is often considered to be the indispensable means of conveying knowledge and understanding, but images are an equally effective if underappreciated way of doing so. Maps can be said to combine the best of visual and print, conveying the reality of both our current surroundings and those existing before we were born. Derek Hayes employs a wide range of maps, photographs, prints and drawings to take us into the sometimes vanished worlds of British Columbia from pre-contact through the 20th century.  Often in colour and always arresting, the images are explained and placed in context by textual annotations and an intervening text. Hayes makes a welcome contribution to our understanding of the nature and the development of our province.


The shortlisted titles for the 2013 Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Book on British Columbia are:

Book coverSandra Djwa, Journey with No Maps: A Life of P. K. Page Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012, ix, 418pp.

An accomplished poet, painter, fiction writer, children’s author and essayist, P.K. Page was a major figure in the Canadian literary and cultural world.  Sandra Djwa, chosen by Page to be her biographer, spent over a decade interviewing “P.K.,” as she was known – investigating her papers, talking to her family and friends, and combing her poetry for insights into her personality. The outcome is a portrait of a strong willed, talented woman who, during a rich and complex life, constantly sought a larger meaning to existence and a secure setting in which to live. During almost half her existence, up to her death in 2010, P.K. Page resided in Victoria, where she played a significant role in the cultural scene while producing works that enriched her standing as an artist.  Djwa’s study vividly depicts a complex, often difficult personality who contributed much to both Canada and British Columbia.

Book coverJim McDowell, Father August Brabant: Saviour or Scourge? Vancouver BC: Ronsdale Press, 2012, xv, 500pp.

The interaction between Indigenous peoples and the newcomers has been and remains central to our understanding of British Columbia. Jim McDowell’s study of the first colonial missionary to live among the Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples on the west coast of Vancouver Island is much more than a biography. Drawing not only on Father August Brabant’s accounts of his missionary endeavours from 1874 to 1900 but also on Indigenous testimony, McDowell provides a close account of the interplay between different and often incompatible cultures, giving substantial background information on the contending cultures and narrating the twists and turns of a confrontational relationship. The study is enhanced by the restraint and even-handedness with which McDowell presents, and seeks to understand, a saddening and often baleful dimension of British Columbia’s existence.