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Edith Iglauer Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws

Posted: November 21, 2006

On Saturday November 15, 2006, author Edith Iglauer was awarded her Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria. The University presented four honorary degrees during the fall convocation ceremonies this month. The recipients represented an eclectic mix of achievement in fields including science, Aboriginal language preservation and journalism. Honorary degrees are granted by the UVic Senate on the basis of exceptional distinction and achievement in scholarship, research, teaching, creative arts, or public service.

Edith is quoted  as saying, "Receiving the Honorary degree of doctor of laws from the University of Victoria is miraculous to me, like marriage, the birth of my two wonderful sons and the arrival of my enchanting grandsons, my first published piece in The New Yorker magazine and the publication of my books. It tells me that my writing is valued in Canada in a manner I would never imagine."

Edith was selected for her pioneering journalistic work, and remarkable writing career. Lynne Van Luven, acting chair of the UVic writing department, emphasized Edith’s amazing work as a journalist over the past decades in her citation to Edith:

"Edith has always been attracted to ground-breaking stories, whether they involved laying the foundations of the World Trade Centre… the building of an ice road in the Arctic, the making of a prime minister or the thinking of a West Coast fisherman. She maintains that journalists are the watchdogs of democracy; she believes in the power of the “still small voice of truth."

It was not only her journalistic prowess that made UVic take notice but also her role as a liaison between Canadian and American culture. Van Luven felt no one could have worded it more perfectly than Edith in her introduction to her 1991 collection of stories, The Strangers Next Door:

I am not just an American journalist writing about Canada for Americans, but a Canadian journalist writing about America for Canadians as well. Both countries, I have discovered, still regard their neighbours across our common border as “the strangers next door,” and like any concerned relative, I want them to know and respect one another as much as I do.

Edith Iglauer was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She married Philip Hamburger and raised two sons in New York. A frequent contributor to the New Yorker, she has written a great deal about Canada. Her first book, The New People (1966, reprinted and updated as Inuit Journey in 1979 and 2000), chronicled the growth of Native co-operatives in the eastern Arctic. She profiled Pierre Trudeau in 1969 and internationally known architect Arthur Erickson in 1979. Denison's Ice Road is about the building of a 325-mile winter road above the Arctic Circle. Divorced in 1966, she came to Vancouver in 1973. She married John Heywood Daly, a commercial salmon fisherman and moved to Garden Bay on the BC coast. Daly died in 1978. After writing Seven Stones: A Portrait of Arthur Erickson, Architect (1981) she began recording her memories of her late husband and his salmon troller the MoreKelp. The result was Fishing with John, a runaway bestseller and nominee for the 1989 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction. Her second memoir, about her career in journalism, was The Strangers Next Door.