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(2011) Vancouver 125 Legacy Books

What better way to celebrate Vancouver's 125th birthday than with the reemergence of ten classic Vancouver books. Ranging from the classic oral history of Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter's Opening Doors to Vancouver's most notorious unsolved murder mystery in Edward Starkins' Who Killed Janet Smith? the titles in this collection are a testament to the depth of Vancouver's literary history and the vibrant writing community that now thrives in our city.

Cake is fine but books are better.

Buy the entire collection of 10 Vancouver 125 Legacy books for $125 + $10 shipping. Email to admin@books.bc.ca or phone 604.684.0228 to place your order. Cheque or money order only please. **Special price only available until March 31, 2012.


Along the No. 20 Line

by Rolf Knight, ISBN 9781554200610, $24.00 CAD

Along20Using the old No. 20 Streetcar Line that ran from 1892 to 1949 between downtown Vancouver and the present–day neighbourhood of the Pacific National Exhibition to structure the book, Rolf Knight takes the reader on a tour through the working class area of East Vancouver a century ago. The No. 20 took thousands of Vancouverites back and forth from their East Van homes to their jobs along the waterfront, on the docks, in mills, factories and workshops. Knight’s own recollections of growing up in the East Vancouver waterfront squatter’s community near the Ironworkers Bridge and interviews with East Vancouver old–timers, bring the city and the era to life.

A Hard Man to Beat: The Story of Bill White: Labour Leader, Historian Shipyard Worker, Raconteur

by Howie White, ISBN 9781550175516, $21.95 CAD

HardManThis biography of Bill White (1905–2001), itinerant ranch hand and trapper, member of the RCMP and an arctic traveller, focuses on his work as the head of the Vancouver Labour Council and president of the Marine Workers and Boilermakers Union, the largest local union in Canada in his time. Known as “Bareknuckle Bill,” White was fierce and unrelenting in his condemnation of the treatment of workers by companies and governments. From the scaffolds and docks of the shipyards to the battleground of the bargaining table, White’s stories about the struggle for labour and human rights in Vancouver in the ‘40s and ‘50s make for fascinating reading. Howard White’s A Hard Man to Beat brings to life the personality of the man, Bill White, in his own colourful language.

Opening Doors: In Vancouver’s East End: Strathcona

Daphne Marlatt & Carole Itter, eds., ISBN 9781550175219, $24.95 CAD

OpeningDoors“There was nothing but parties in Hogan’s Alley,” a black musician named Austin Phillips reminisced in 1977. The black ghetto of Hogan’s Alley was just one of the ethnic neighbourhoods that made the historic Strathcona district the most cosmopolitan and colourful quarter in Vancouver for over a hundred years. Home to Chinatown, Japantown, the Loggers’ Skid Row and Little Italy among others, it had been the city’s first residential neighbourhood but became the refuge of the city’s working and immigrant classes when better-off Vancouverites migrated westward around 1900. By the 1950s planners had declared it a slum slated for demolition, but in the 1960s residents united in a spirited defense that guaranteed Strathcona’s survival and revolutionized city planning across Canada. Between 1977 and 1978, Strathcona writers Daphne Marlatt and Carole Itter undertook to open the closed doors to some of Vancouver’s stories by collecting 50 oral histories from the area’s residents. First published in 1979 as a double issue of the journal Sound Heritage, Opening Doors has been celebrated as one of the best books about Vancouver.

Who Killed Janet Smith?

by Edward Starkins, ISBN 9781897535851, $24.00 CAD

Anvil-Janet-Smith-cover-125Edward Starkins examines one of the most infamous and still unsolved murder cases in Canadian history: the 1924 murder of 22-year-old Scottish nursemaid Janet Smith. Originally published in 1984, and out of print for over a decade, this tale of intrigue, racism, privilege and corruption in high places is a true-crime recreation that reads like a complex thriller.


Class Warfare

by D.M. Fraser, ISBN 9781551524283, $15.95 CAD

classwarfarecoverD.M. Fraser, one of Canada’s best unknown writers, was born in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, the son of a Presbyterian minister and an English teacher. He moved on his own to the west coast at the age of 20 and become part of Vancouver’s nascent literary community, specifically the motley beer-and-anarchy collection of writers, poets and misfits associated with Pulp Press (established forty years ago in 1971). Class Warfare, Fraser’s first book was published in 1974 by his friend and Pulp founder Stephen Osborne, who he had met while they were both students at the University of British Columbia. It is an extraordinary collection of stories rooted in the politics and culture of 1970s Vancouver; a gloriously written call to arms addressed to the disenfranchised about the possibilities of “the sweetness of life.” This new edition promises to shed new light on this brilliant, unsung writer.

A Credit to Your Race

by Truman Green, ISBN 9781897535868, $18.00 CAD

CreditLongtime resident of Surrey, Truman Green wrote and self-published the semi-autobiographical novel A Credit to Your Race in 1973. In it a 15-year-old black porter’s son falls in love with, and impregnates, the white girl next door. Set in Surrey, circa 1960, A Credit to Your Race is a disturbing and convincing portrayal of how the full weight of Canadian racism could come to bear on a youthful, interracial couple.


by Betty Lambert, ISBN 9781551524276, $19.95 CAD

crossingsPublished in 1979, Crossings was Betty Lambert’s only novel. It was revolutionary for its frank and unsettling portrayal of Vicky, a female writer in Vancouver in the early 1960s, an educated and intelligent woman who struggles to come to terms with herself as she navigates an emotionally abusive relationship with Nick, a violent logger and ex-con. Their physical, often violent affair offers an honest and unflinching look at relationships and female suffering. The book caused a furor when it was first published, and in fact was banned from some feminist Canadian bookstores. At the same time, it was widely acclaimed by critics and writers, including Jane Rule, who wrote: “This portrait of an artist as a young woman should stand beside Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are and Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners as a testimony of the courage and cost of being a woman and a writer.” This Canadian classic will introduce this remarkable writer to a new generation of readers.

The Inverted Pyramid

by Bertrand W. Sinclair, ISBN 9781553801283, $18.95 CAD

Inverted-Pyramid-11-x-17Bertrand W. Sinclair’s The Inverted Pyramid was a best-seller when it was first published in 1924. Writing in the period from 1908 onwards, Sinclair published over 15 novels, some of which sold in the hundreds of thousands. In The Inverted Pyramid, which critics often cite as his most ambitious novel, he explores Canada’s drift during WWI from a world of production to one based on finance, with all the attendant problems that continue to the present day. The novel offers a colourful account of British Columbia during this time through the history of two brothers, Rod and Grove Norquay, who belong to an old BC family. Grove, the older brother, takes the family’s assets and invests them in finance with disastrous consequences. As the world declines into a depression, Rod is forced to liquidate much of his family’s timber holdings, but he remains hopeful that he and family, working with their own hands, will be able to make a good life for themselves — even as the rest of the world totters into the horrors of modernity.


Anhaga: Pray for Hardship & Other Poems

by Jon Furberg, ISBN 9781551524306, $15.95

anhagaAt the time of his death in 1992, Jon Furberg was one of the most disciplined and exciting poets writing in Vancouver. Ten years in the making, Anhaga is Furberg’s masterly crafted retelling of the Anglo-Saxon poem “The Wanderer.” Reading into the old text with courage and imagination, letting individual lines and words resonate and build associations, listening for the cadences of the ancient bards who were the original carriers of the poem, he allows a new work to emerge. The result is a contemporary Wanderer―that lost, doomed, desperate soul who is perhaps the first truly individualized―that is, alienated―figure in English literature. Furberg was a poet of spectacular skill, a poet who could embrace ancient texts and reinvent them with creative vigour while remaining true to their original voice. First published in 1983, this new edition features an introduction by Brad Cran, Vancouver’s current Poet Laureate, and a foreword by Stephen Osborne, editor-in-chief of Geist magazine.

Day and Night

by Dorothy Livesay, ISBN 9780889822818, $18.95 CAD

LIVESAY-Day-and-Night---Front-Cover-600dpi2Day and Night was Dorothy Livesay’s first Governor General’s Award winning title and one of the first books with Vancouver content to be awarded the prestigious award for poetry. Day and Night emerged out of the struggles of the depression and the societal changes brought about as a result of WWII. It also demonstrates the interrelationship between the city and the rest of Canada. Livesay’s notion of social justice is paramount and the struggles faced as a country are exemplified in the poems. Dorothy Livesay was a writer of journalism, short fiction, autobiography and literary criticism, she is best known as a strong, sensitive poet dealing as capably with public and political issues as with personal and intimate emotion and reflection. She was senior woman writer in Canada during the active and productive years of the 1970s and 1980s.