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British Columbia Historical News, Spring

For anyone interested in the history of the west coast fishing industry, I would highly recommend. . . Homer Stevens. . .

Homer Stevens: A Life in Fishing is an excellent. . .focus. . . on the career of an important labour leader during recent decades.

While the book includes some useful sections of snapshot photographs of Homer, his family and colleagues, as well as some of the individuals who have been involved in the industry and UFAWU over four recent decades, it is primarily a textual presentation. It is, in fact, really the autobiography or a rich personal oral history of Stevens, as related to writer Rolf Knight.

Stevens was, of course, known on the west coast for many years as the outspoken and very committed leader of one of British Columbia's most important and militant unions, the UFAWU. He has also been known for his strong political beliefs and affiliation with the Communist Party of Canada throughout the many difficult years of the Cold War. While these firm beliefs often brought widespread antagonism to him, they were a measure of the serious dedication he felt to his cause. This political commitment underpinned his profound commitment to serving the union, and working people in general. Clearly, the members of his union retained a long term confidence in his work for their cause, since he remained the union's secretary - treasurer, representing them in negotiations, for many years. For someone used to reading reports in the popular press that were invariably antagonistic to Stevens, this book brought new insights into an important part of the history of the fishing industry and organized labour in British Columbia in recent decades.

It is a very personal book, intended to summarize Homer Stevens' impressions of his long career and of the history of his union, but is not the official history of the union. There is, of course, little need for footnotes in this case since most of the text is obviously based on the personal memory of the subject.

Homer Stevens: A Life in Fishing is a good read for anyone interested in the history of the coast and of the people who have worked in one of its main industries. It also provides a good fresh perspective on the life and work of one of British Columbia's most important labour leaders in the last forty years.