Author and broadcaster Mark Forsythe and journalist Greg Dickson will be on tour in the Kootenays giving presentations about their most recent book, From the West Coast to the Western Front: British Columbians and the Great War. They will be at the Grand Forks and District Public Library on Thursday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m.
It has often been observed that the First World War jolted Canada into nationhood, and as Forsythe and Dickson show in this compelling book, no province participated more eagerly in that transformation or felt the aftershock more harshly than British Columbia. In From the West Coast to the Western Front, Forsythe, host of CBC Radio’s mid-day show BC Almanac, marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War by teaming with historian Dickson and the ever resourceful B.C. Almanac audience to compile a sweeping portrayal of that crucial chapter of B.C. history.
Of the 611,000 Canadians who fought for King and Country, 55,570 were from British Columbia—the highest per capita rate of enlistment in the country. Of that contingent, 6,225 died in battle, a critical loss to a fledgling province of barely 400,000.
Compiling stories, artifacts and photos sent in by B.C. Almanac listeners from across the province, this volume tells of submarine smuggling, bagpipes lost on the battlefield and of the ongoing struggles by soldiers who made it home. It tells of battles that set records for mass death amid conditions of unequalled squalor, but also of the heroism of front-line nurses and soldiers like George Maclean, a First Nations man from the Okanagan, who won the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
By turns devastating, harrowing, insightful and miraculous, these stories reveal much about the spirit and resilience of a people who survived one of history’s greatest disasters to build the province we have today.
Forsythe was the long-standing host of CBC Radio One’s B.C. Almanac. Raised in Toronto, Forsythe moved to B.C. in the mid-seventies and has come to know the province well through broadcasting assignments in Smithers, Prince George, Prince Rupert, the Okanagan and Vancouver.
Dickson was a journalist and producer at CBC radio and television for over 20 years. He also taught journalism at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Forsythe and Dickson’s other books include The B.C. Almanac Book of Greatest British Columbians and The Trail of 185, both from Harbour Publishing.
This free event is made possible with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. For more information about the book or the event, go to www.harbourpublishing.com.