Cynthia Wilson was born in Abbotsford in 1947. She grew up
in the coastal wilderness of Nelson Island and Pender Harbour.
In 1966 Simon Fraser University chose her and a few other BC
grade 11 students to enter directly into first year university.
When she finished her Bachelor's degree, she worked for the
Nicola Valley Indian Association in Meritt and then as editor
of Nisika, the house organ of the Union of BC Indian
In 1980 she joined the College of New Caledonia, teaching Adult
Basic Education, returning to SFU in her summers to work on
her Masters of Education, which she completed in 1987.
In 1991 Cynthia and her partner Ken Carling bought Vancouver
based Caitlin Press and moved it to Prince George. After the
death of Carling, Cynthia forged on alone for years.
She began to champion northern writers, warring against what
she called "the lower-mainland bias" in literary and
public life. She had a touch for picking the best of local writers
When granting agencies such as The Canada Council questioned
the "literary merit" of some of her choices, she fought.
At one point, her brother, author and publisher Howard White,
had to talk her out of suing the Canadian Government.
Eventually she got her way and distinctive series of books
by Northerners appeared and sold well across Canada. Her point
was made in the most credible of forms -- success. That success
wasn't just for writers, either. Cynthia hired editors and layout
artists from the north.
Three years ago, she met Don Smith who became her partner in
both life and the press. During her life, Cynthia found an individualistic
and fesity way to express her passion for the North.
from memorial brochure
Coast Cruise, by Cynthia Wilson
(in PDF file format)
Cynthia Wilson Scholarship, CNC
Memorial Service Poster
by Hans Saefkow
On June 8th, 2005, a memorial tribute was held for
Cynthia at the Prince George Public Library. [For more information
see news article
by Paul Strickland]
Host: Joan Jarman
Readers: Patrick White, Barry McKinnon, Kathy
Plett, Suzanne LeBlanc, Jacqueline Baldwin, Jack Boudreau, Margaret
Thompson, Ken Belford, Jay Sherwood and Vivien Lougheed.
Thanks to: Friends of the Library, Refreshments;
Kathy Plett, National Library Research; Joan Jarman, Master of
Ceremonies; Prince George Public Library, venue; Hans Saefkow,
Poster; lynda Williams, web work; David Lott, video production;
Ken Belford, Memorial Brochure; Vivien Lougheed, Organizing; John
Harris, Memorial Text.