WEIR, Joan Sherman

Author Tags: Agriculture, Cariboo, Kidlit & Young Adult

Joan Weir is one of the few writers who has attempted a literary career from Kamloops. For three decades, her writing for adults and children has been steeped in history. Her useful and often sympathetic study of mainly English missionaries in B.C. entitled Catalysts and Watchdogs (Sono Nis, 1995) maintains they "served as a crucial brake on an inexperienced and often headstrong colonial government." Weir reveals that sometimes the presence of missionaries was requested by Aboriginal leaders who valued expanded educational opportunities for their sons and the conventional notion that Christianity was foisted upon all Aboriginal peoples is a shallow one.

Weir also contributed a valuable history of the short-lived agricultural community of Walhachin. In 1907, Charles Barnes, an American land surveyor in Ashcroft, B.C., envisioned a settlement for orchards to be grown along the Thompson River between Kamloops and Cache Creek. By 1910, a posh hotel was built and more than 2,000 tons of potatoes were shipped to market. By the summer of 1911, some 500 acres of fruit trees had been planted by the predominantly upper-class British immigrants to whom Barnes had marketed the development. By 1912, the new community of Walhachin had 180 permanent residents. They paid for a hugely expensive, 20-mile-long wooden flume to bring water for irrigation because most of the orchards were too high above the Thompson River for pumping technology. But when World War One broke out, most of the orchardists, who were staunchly loyal to England, chose to enlist, and by 1922 the promising paradise of Walhachin was empty. Weir's history is Walhachin, Catastrophe or Camelot? (Hancock House, 1984, 1995).

Born in Calgary, Alberta on April 21, 1928 as Joan Sherman, she was the youngest of four children. Her father was Archbishop L. Ralph Sherman, Bishop of Calgary (1927-1943). She was educated in Calgary and at the University of Manitoba where she received her B.A. in English in 1948. She was a writer and producer of children's programming in Winnipeg (1948-1954). She married a surgeon and they raised four sons including playwright and screenwriter Ian Weir. She hosted a children's television series for CFJC in Kamloops (1973-1976) until she published a biography in 1976 and was commmissioned to write a history of Scottish settlers in B.C. in 1977. Since the late 1980s she has mostly written children's books and juvenile novels. Three of her young adult novels--Sixteen is spelled O-U-C-H, Storm Rider and Secret at Westwind--have been translated into Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. The Principal's Kid has been translated into Korean. In 1991 and 1992 she wrote scripts for Nickelodeon's weekly television program Fifteen that aired in the U.S. and Canada. For many years she has taught Creative Writing at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops. She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of the Cariboo in 2004.


The Mysterious Visitor, Polestar Book Publishers, 2001.
Maybe Tomorrow, Young Adult Historical Novel, Stoddart, Toronto, 2000
The Principal's Kid, Juvenile Mystery, Polestar, Vancouver, 1999
The Brideship, Young Adult Historical Novel, Stoddart, Toronto, 1998
The Witcher, Juvenile Mystery, Polestar, Vancouver, 1998
Sixteen Is Spelled O-U-C-H, Young Adult Novel, Stoddart, 1995, 1991
Catalysts & Watchdogs; B.C.'s Men Of God, Non-Fiction, Sono Nis Press, 1995
Sky Lodge Mystery, Juvenile Novel, Stoddart, 1991, 1988
Mystery At Lighthouse Rock, Juvenile Novel, Stoddart, 1991
Balloon Race Mystery, Juvenile Novel, Stoddart, 1988
Backdoor To The Klondike, Non-Fiction, Boston Mills Press, 1988
Storm Rider, Young Adult Novel, Scholastic, 1988
Secret At Westwind, Young Adult Mystery, Scholastsic, 1988
Canada's Gold Rush Church, Non-Fiction, Anglican Diocese of Cariboo, 1986, 2000
Walhachin, Catastrophe or Camelot? Non-Fiction, Hancock House, Vancouver, 1984, 1995
So I'm Different, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, 1981
The Caledonians, Non-Fiction, The Caledonian Society, 1977.
Career Girl, Young Adult Novel, Tree Frog Press, 1977
Exile at the Rocking Seven, Macmillan, 1977
Three Day Challenge, Juvenile Fiction, Scholastic-TAB, 1976
Sherman, Non-Fiction Biography, Anglican Book Centre, 1976


The Principal's Kid. B.C. Centennial Book Award 2000; shortlisted for the year 2000 Silver Birch Award; shortlisted for the year 2000 CNIB Talking Book of the Year Award
The Brideship. Shortlisted for the year 2001 Manitoba Readers' Choice Award; shortlisted for the 1999 Geoffrey Bilson Historical Fiction Award

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2009] "Kidlit" "Cariboo" "Missionaries"

Maybe Tomorrow (Stoddart $7.99)

Set in New Westminster, Maybe Tomorrow (Stoddart $7.99) is the latest in Joan Weir’s works of historical fiction. It follows two girls, Sesuq and Jane, in a fictionalized account of the All Hallows School operating in the 1800s before the forced separation of white and native students. 0-7736-7486-1


The Brideship (Stoddart $5.99)

Also in the time-honoured tradition of the ‘orphan novel’, parentless Sarah and her cousin Maude leave Britain with hopes of becoming Canadian brides in The Brideship (Stoddart $5.99) by Kamloops creative writing instructor Joan Weir.
When Sarah discovers her prospective groom is a Gold Rush fortune seeker and she’s likely to be forced into the role of a traditional wife, she plots her escape.
Weir, who grew up in Calgary, used to hope she’d win the Children’s Day door prize of a pinto pony at every Stampede. She loves horses and often includes them in her books.
Weir’s horse Raj makes an appearance in The Witcher (Polestar $8.95), her story of 12-year-old Lion (short for Lionel) who is drawn into a mystery involving a young witcher—yet another orphan—who has an uncanny talent to find buried gold. Brideship 0-7736-74748; Witcher 1-896095-44-5