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Harbour Publishing Congratulates Its Winners of the BC Historical Writing Competition


April 8, 2009

Eric Jamieson’s story of the collapse of the Ironworker’s Memorial bridge in Vancouver, Tragedy At Second Narrows, has won first place, while Stephen Hume’s account of Simon Fraser’s journeys, Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia, has won third place in the British Columbia Historical Federation’s annual Historical Writing Competition. Eric Jamieson’s first place prize comes with a Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal For Historical Writing and $600 in cash. The awards are given yearly to those BC authors who have made a significant contribution to the recorded history of British Columbia. 


In Tragedy At Second Narrows, Jamieson unravels the worst industrial accident in Vancouver history, when the new bridge being built across the Burrard Inlet collapsed in the flooding tidal waters of Second Narrows, killing eighteen workers. The shocking thing was that the bridge was not an old, decrepit structure, but a new one just in the midst of being erected with all the support and security modern engineering could provide. That somebody had made a colossal error seemed obvious, but it would take a Royal Commission to discover how and why. Jamieson has returned to the scene of the tragedy and reconstructed the tragic event with scrupulous care, introducing the entire cast of politicians, construction bosses, engineers and ironworkers.

For over thirty years Eric Jamieson made his living as a banker, working around the province in Victoria, Campbell River, Prince George, Fort St. John, Vancouver and North Vancouver. He has served a total of eighteen years on the boards of museums, most recently with the North Vancouver Museum and Archives. Tragedy at Second Narrows is his second book; he is also the author of South Pole—900 Miles on Foot. Jamieson lives in North Vancouver, BC with his wife Joan.

In Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia, Stephen Hume followed in Fraser's footsteps and canoe wake for four years. He studied fading maps and diaries in archives across North America, interviewed the descendants of people who aided Fraser and retraced Fraser's route across British Columbia's vast and varied landscape. Hume found Fraser's own blazes and signs in the wild terrain that the Nor'wester crossed with the help of aboriginal peoples, all the way from the Rocky Mountains to the mouth of the ferocious river we call the Fraser.


Stephen Hume is an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of the Edmonton Journal and columnist and feature writer for the Vancouver Sun. He has won more than a dozen awards for his poetry, essays and journalism, including the Writers Guild of Alberta Literary Award, the Southam President’s Award and the Marjorie Nichols Memorial Award. He currently teaches professional writing at Vancouver Island University.


Each year, the British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions for its Annual Historical Writing Competition to authors of British Columbia history. To be eligible, a book must be a non-fiction book about any aspect of BC history and be published within the competition year. This year, second prize went to Margaret Horsfield for Voices from the Sound: Chronicles of Clayoquot Sound and Tofino 1899-1929 (Salal Books) while honorable mentions included Eileen Truant Pederson for Set in Stone: A History of Trail’s Rock Walls (The Rock Wall Project Entusiastico Society and Lookout Mountain Productions), Douglas C. Harris for Landing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves & Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925 (UBC Press) and Daphne Sleigh for The Man Who Saved Vancouver: Major James Skitt Matthews (Heritage House Publishing).