Cynthia Wilson 1947-2005

Memorial Text

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 Chiefs.

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 and stories.

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
(John Harris)

Rain Coast Cruise, by Cynthia Wilson
(in PDF file format)

About Cynthia Wilson Scholarship, CNC

Cynthia Wilsom Memorial Posster

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.