Initiated by Andy Wright of the Eaton's book department in Vancouver, the annual Eaton's B.C. Book Award essentially preceded the B.C. Book Prizes (originated in 1985) as British Columbia's most prestigious literary prize exclusively for British Columbia authors. It was first presented in 1975 and last presented in 1983. The judges for most of the contests were unchanged: Margaret Prang (from UBC), Gordon Elliott (from SFU) and Walter Young (UVic). The judges for the final year were Margaret Prang, Leslie Peterson (Vancouver Sun) and Chuck Davis (author/broadcaster). The presentation ceremony was a modest affair, usually in one of the Eaton's book departments. The award included a gift of $1,500 worth of copies to the Ministry of Education for distribution to B.C.'s schools.
[PHOTO: Andy Wright, Catherine Kerr, Scott McIntyre]
The winning titles were:
Cail, Robert E.
Land, Man and the Law: The Disposal of Crown Lands in British Columbia, 1871-1913 (UBC Press, 1974).
Spit Delaney's Island (Macmillan, 1976)
Howard White (editor)
Raincoast Chronicles First Five: Stories and History of the B.C. Coast (Harbour, 1976)
Cole, Douglas & Maria Tippett
From Desolation to Splendour: Changing Perceptions of the British Columbia Landscape (Clarke, Irwin, 1977)
Rattenbury (Sono Nis, 1978)
Steltzer, Ulli & Catherine Kerr
Coast of Many Faces (Douglas & McIntyre, 1979)
Sacred Places (Douglas & McIntyre, 1980)
Maps and Dreams (Douglas & McIntyre, 1981)
Boss Whistle: The Coal Miners of Vancouver Island Remember (Lantzville: Oolichan Books, 1982)
[BCBW 2006] "Eaton's"
Prior to the creation of the BC Book Prizes in 1985, the Eaton’s Book Award was widely considered to be the province’s top literary prize. It overshadowed the venerable Lieutenant Governor’s medal for history largely because its perennial judges Margaret Prang (UBC), Walter D. Young (UVic) and Gordon Elliott (SFU) maintained unusually high standards. The Eaton’s Book Award for “best B.C. book of the year” was first presented to Robert E. Cail for Land, Man and the Law: The Disposal of Crown Lands in British Columbia, 1871–1913 (1974). Subsequent winners included Jack Hodgins for Spit Delaney’s Island (1976); Howard White as editor for Raincoast Chronicles First Five: Stories and History of the B.C. Coast (1976); Terry Reksten for Rattenbury (1978); Ulli Steltzer and Catherine Kerr for Coast of Many Faces (1979); Barry Downs for Sacred Places (1980); Hugh Brody for Maps and Dreams (1981); and Lynne Bowen for Boss Whistle: The Coal Miners of Vancouver Island Remember (1982).