Author Tags: Civil Rights, First Nations, Law, Poetry, Religion, Theatre
Born at Frilford Heath, Oxford, England on July 19, 1943, Gary Botting came to Canada in 1954. Before he attended university he worked for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong; he later served as a literary and film critic for the Peterborough Examiner when it was managed by Robertson Davies. He received his Ph.D in literature from the University of Alberta, concentrating on William Golding's Lord of the Flies. He taught creative writing at Red Deer College for fourteen years and served as an editor for Red Deer College Press.
Botting first arrived in British Columbia after completing his law degree at University of Calgary in 1990. He later became senior partner in his own law firm, Gary Botting & Associates, in Victoria, B.C., taking dozens of criminal cases to trial and appeal, ranging from extradition to murder. He completed his Ph.D. in law at University of British Columbia in 2004. When not researching law at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, Gary Botting lives at Deep Bay on Vancouver Island where he writes plays, novels, poetry and academic works for publication.
In 1993, Gary Botting, who articled with Victoria lawyer Doug Christie, published Fundamental Freedoms and Jehovah's Witnesses (University of Calgary Press, $14.95). It explores the ways the religious movement and jurisprudence involving it have influenced the development of civil liberties in Canada, including the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The book traces the legal history of the movement from 1870, describing censorship of Witness publications and banning of the sect during World War II. In 1984, he co-wrote The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses (UTP, 1984) with Heather D. Botting. His mother was a devoted Jehovah's Witness for most of her life.
In Streaking! The Collected Poems of Gary Botting (2013), he has re-collected hundreds of published poems from epics and ballads to sonnets and haikus – in the words of the poet “lyrical, satirical, sentimental, sexperimental, abstract, concrete: with and without feet.” The new, self-published version contains a lengthy and useful summary of his life in an introduction by Tihemme Gagnon. He reputedly began writing poetry at age ten soon after his arrival in Canada after a stormy trans-Atlantic crossing in 1953. He became a committed Jehovah's Witness at age 14.
His website states: "By the time Gary Botting began his first career as a journalist with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong at age 18, he had already traveled around the world as first prize winner in biology at both the 1960 and 1961 Ontario and U.S. National Science Fairs. His experiments as a teenager with the genetics and hybridization of giant silk moths were said by judges to be worthy of a M.Sc. degree. The American Institute of Biological Sciences sponsored him on a U.S. tour with his exhibit, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences followed through with an all-expenses-paid trip to India, the Middle East and Europe. He traveled back to Europe, where he spent the summer of 1961 smuggling anti-Franco literature into Spain. Then at 18 he bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, where he became a journalist.
"Upon his return to Canada in 1964 Gary Botting worked for the Peterborough Examiner under Robertson Davies, and read English and Philosophy at Trent University, from where he graduated in 1968. As an undergraduate, he won several literary awards and a scholarship to pursue graduate studies. Over the next three decades, he obtained additional academic credentials - including the M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature and the M.F.A. in Playwriting, followed by the LL.B. and LL.M. degrees in constitutional and international criminal law. In Alberta, Gary Botting established a reputation as a prizewinning playwright, then became an English and creative writing instructor at Red Deer College for 14 years, winning additional awards for his writing and directing. He was founding president of the Alberta Publishers Association, president of TrenTan Developments Ltd., and for several years was proprietor of Arabesque Arabians, a ranch on which he raised Arabian horses, black sheep and komondor dogs."
Botting has received ten "Province of Alberta Playwriting Awards" for various plays.
For his biography of Chief Bobtail Smallboy, a Cree from Hobbema, Alberta, he says:
"In 1982, Chief Gordon Lee of the Ermineskin First Nation, the husband of one of my students and then administrator of the Four Bands Council in Hobbema, requested my assistance in recording and preserving the thoughts, memories, and oral history of Chief Bob Smallboy.
"Starting in July 1982, Gordon and I conducted a series of interviews with Smallboy in which he explained in detail the life he was trying to lead in the foothills. To supplement his narratives, Chief Smallboy gave Gordon and me custody of his personal photo albums and scrapbooks.
"Subsequent to Bob's death, his son Joe paid my then wife Heather and me social visits whenever he got into a storytelling mood. His familiarity with his father's oral history allowed him to flesh out the narratives of accounts initially outlined by his father. With Joe's encouragement and input, I set out to write a biography of Chief Smallboy that vastly expanded on the Chief's own early narratives.
"Without leaders like Chief Bobtail Smallboy, the First Nations of today would not have been able to preserve their traditions. He insisted on the residents of the camp learning Cree and preserving Cree traditions, including the Sun Dance, the shaking tent dance, powwows, and many other rituals now solidly preserved for all First Nations.
"By far the most important parts of the book are the personal stories of the oral tradition. I am not an historian, but a chronicler of Smallboy's life. And of course I was delighted when all the parts of Smallboy's story came together into one organic whole, corroborating virtually everything that he had said."
Streaking! The Collected Poems of Gary Botting (2013) 9788-1-62316-309-7 / First released in 1974 from Red Deer College Press
Canadian Extradition Law Practice (Toronto: Butterworths LexisNexis, 2012). (practice text on Canadian extradition law for judges and lawyers - fourth edition since 2005)
Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance, in Halsbury’s Laws of Canada, First Edition. Markham: LexisNexis, 2011.
Wrongful Conviction in Canadian Law. Markham: LexisNexis, 2010, with a Foreword by David Milgaard
Chief Smallboy: In Pursuit of Freedom (Calgary: Fifth House/Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2005). With a foreword by Hugh Dempsey. ISBN 1894856783 $25. A First Nations biography incorporating the history of the Plains Cree in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. It profiles Chief Bobtail Smallyboy, who founded a settlement that operated in accordance with traditional Cree ways.
Extradition Between Canada and the United States (Ardsley, New York: Transnational 2005). ISBN 1571053352 US $125. Canadian and U.S. legal history and explication of Canadian and U.S. law.
Leadership: An Anthology (Victoria: Royal Roads University, 1998). ISBN 0920310206 (co-editor with M.E. Symons).
Fundamental Freedoms and Jehovah's Witnesses (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1993). ISBN 1895176069.
Haiku (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1987).
Lady of My House and Other Poems (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1986).
Prime Target: A Play in Two Acts (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1985).
The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses (co-author with H. Botting) (Toronto: U. of T. Press, 1984). ISBN: 0802065457 pp $16.95
Winston Agonistes (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1984).
Crux (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1983).
Freckled Blue and Other Poems (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1979).
Lady Godiva on a Plaster Horse (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1977).
A William Golding Bibliography (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1976).
Thinking As a Hobby: The Novels of William Golding (Edmonton: Harden House, 1975).
Monomonster in Hell (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1975).
Streaking! (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1974).
Computer-Assisted Instruction of English As a Second Language (co-author), (Red Deer: Red Deer College Press, 1973).
The Box Beyond (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1972).
Harriott! (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1972).
Perambulance and Pipe Dream: Two Plays (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1972).
Prometheus Rebound: A Dramatic Poem (Edmonton: Harden House of Canada, 1972).
The Theatre of Protest in America (Edmonton: Harden House, 1971).
BumweltS (St. Johns: Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1969).
Driftwood (Peterborough: Trent University, 1967).
Tridentine (editor)(Peterborough: Trent University, 1967).