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BC Book Publisher Finds New Home

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An important literary press has just found a new home and new ownership. Vici Johnstone, currently the general manager for Harbour Publishing, one of Canada’s leading regional publishers, has just announced the purchase of Caitlin Press. She is now the sole owner and publisher.

Caitlin, a feminist literary press founded in 1977 by Carolyn Zonailo, was first located on Gabriola Island off BC’s Southern Coast. In the 1980s, Caitlin moved to Vancouver and was run as a literary press. For almost fifteen years Caitlin published talented BC women writers, such as Elizabeth Gourlay and Cathy Ford. In 1991 Cynthia Wilson purchased the press and moved it to Prince George, where she quickly established her reputation as the publisher of BC’s Central Interior.

Wilson passed away in 2005, leaving Caitlin in the care of her brother Howard White, the publisher of Harbour Publishing. For the past two years White has managed Caitlin for Wilson’s estate, publishing between two to four books each year. The company boasts an impressive backlist, including non-fiction BC bestsellers by Jack Boudreau and prestigious literary titles such as Soft Geography by Gillian Wigmore, which was recently shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Publisher Johnstone began her diverse career in the arts over 30 years ago as a stage manager and sound designer for theatre. In 1989 she moved to the CBC Radio, where she worked as a technical engineer and designer in Current Affairs and the Arts. She wrote and produced Sounds of the Disappearing Prairies, a mini-documentary series for Calgary’s Wild Rose Country.

After 20 years in Alberta, Johnstone moved her family back to her native province and re-established her roots in BC. Since moving to the Sunshine Coast she has gained extensive publishing experience in media and entertainment, first as a new media producer for Basis Applied Technology, and then as the production and general manager for Harbour Publishing.

“As the publisher of Caitlin Press I intend to support and develop both of the press’s original mandates. The voices coming from BC’s Central Interior are fresh and real and reflect the heart and soul of BC. And, after 30 years of working in the arts it is clear to me that we still have a lot of work to do to bring women’s stories to the forefront. I am excited about re-establishing a press for BC’s women writers.”