Just in time for fall reading, this year’s shortlists for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize includes eight local authors.

The $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize, now in its 19th year, is awarded to a Greater Victoria author for the best book published in the categories of fiction, non-fiction or poetry. The five finalists are:

  • Arleen Paré for First (Brick Books)
  • Esi Edugyan for Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling (House of Anansi Press)
  • Barry Gough for Possessing Meares Island: A Historian’s Journey into the Past of Clayoquot Sound (Harbour Publishing)
  • Gregor Craigie for On Borrowed Time: North America’s Next Big Quake (Goose Lane)
  • Amanda Swinimer for The Science and Spirit of Seaweed: Discovering Food, Medicine and Purpose in the Kelp Forests of the Pacific Northwest (Harbour Publishing)

The $5,000 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize, in its 15th year, is awarded to a Greater Victoria author or illustrator for the best children’s book. The three finalists are:

  • Frances Backhouse for Beavers: Radical Rodents and Ecosystem Engineers (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Wendy Proverbs for Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children (Heritage House)
  • Teoni Spathelfer for White Raven (Heritage House)

The finalists were selected by an independent jury, comprised of representatives from the local literary arts community, from among books published between April 2021 and March 2022.

The winners will be announced at an in-person gala emceed by CBC’s Kathryn Marlow on Wednesday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from the Victoria Book Prizes website victoriabookprizes.ca.

Founded in 2004, the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize is a partnership between the City of Victoria and Brian Butler of Butler Brothers Supplies. The City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize recognizes and celebrates exceptional children’s and youth literature in our community. The prize was established in 2008 by the late Mel Bolen of Bolen Books. Additional sponsors include the Union Club of British Columbia, Friesens Corporation, Munro’s Books, Russell Books, Ivy’s Bookshop, CBC Radio, Island Blue Print Co., the Greater Victoria Public Library, Magnolia Hotel & Spa and Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites.

Join us for our annual gala event celebrating our region’s finest authors. On Wednesday, October 12th, 2022 at 7:30PM at the Union Club, CBC’s Kathryn Marlow will host a gala that will include readings by shortlisted authors and the awarding of the Victoria Book Prizes. Please purchase your tickets using the button below (will redirect you to the Eventbrite site). Tickets are limited, so please purchase without delay!


City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize

Beavers: Radical Rodents and Ecosystem Engineers
Frances Backhouse
Publisher: Orca Wild

By cutting trees and building dams, beavers shape landscapes and provide valuable wetland homes for many plants and animals.

These radical rodents were once almost hunted to extinction for their prized fur, but today we are building a new relationship with them, and our appreciation of the benefits they offer as habitat creators and water stewards is growing. Packed with facts and personal stories, this book looks at the beaver’s biology and behavior and illuminates its vital role as a keystone species. The beaver’s comeback is one of North America’s greatest conservation success stories and Beavers: Radical Rodents and Ecosystem Engineers introduces readers to the conservationists, scientists and young people who are working to build a better future for our furry friends

Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children
Wendy Proverbs
Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

Wendy Proverbs’ debut novel, Aggie and Mudgy: The Journey of Two Kaska Dena Children, is based on the true story of her biological mother and aunt. Aggie and Mudgy won the 2022 Jeanne Clarke Regional History Book Award and has been shortlisted for the 2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award and 2022/2023 First Nations Communities Read Award. 

White Raven
Teoni Spathelfer
Publisher: Heritage House Publishing

All grown up with a family of her own, Little Wolf moves from the big city to the island of her ancestors. She wants to share the beauty and mysteries of nature with her children, and she wants them to learn as much about their culture as possible. One day, Little Wolf’s mother, White Raven, visits and begins to tell her grandchildren stories from her own childhood. But the stories are not happy ones. As a child, White Raven left her family to attend St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay, BC. While there, she experienced hunger, loneliness, shame, and isolation from her language and her culture. Even years later, as a grown woman and Elder, she has nightmares about her time at the school. But by sharing her story with Little Wolf and her grandchildren, White Raven begins to heal and brings the family closer together. Through simple, heartfelt text and vivid illustrations that combine contemporary and traditional Indigenous motifs, White Raven is an engaging teaching tool as well as a relatable narrative about the impact of intergenerational trauma on families. Based on the author’s own life and her mother’s residential school experience, the central message of this book is one of healing and family unity.

City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Out of the Sun
Esi Edugyan
Publisher: House of Anansi Press

History is a construction. What happens when we begin to consider stories at the margins, when we grant them centrality? How does that complicate our certainties about who we are, as individuals, as nations, as human beings? Through the lens of visual art, literature, film, and the author’s lived experience, Out of the Sun examines the depiction of Black histories in art, offering new perspectives to challenge the accepted narrative.

Arleen Paré

Publisher: Brick Books

The poems in First, Arleen Paré’s seventh collection, search for a long-lost first friend. They conjure the subtle layers of meaning in that early friendship to riff on to a search for how we might possibly understand the primal First: the beginnings of the cosmos that contains our own particular lives, beginnings and longings.

The Science and Spirit of Seaweed: Discovering Food, Medicine and Purpose in the Kelp Forests of the Pacific Northwest
Amanda Swinimer
Publisher: Harbour Publishing

Sustainable Pacific Northwest-based seaweed harvester Amanda Swinimer describes the ecology, culinary uses, evidence-based health benefits and climate change-resisting potential of seaweed and shares highlights from her remarkable life beneath the waves.

Related to the most ancient living organisms on earth, seaweeds are incredible and unique life forms, sharing qualities with both plants and animals, as well as fungi. They have been prized as a nutrient-dense food source for millennia and contain essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, protein and fibre as well as biologically active compounds not found anywhere else in nature. Seaweeds are also a source for innovations combating climate change due in part to their ability to absorb massive quantities of carbon dioxide.

On Borrowed Time: North America’s Next Big Quake
Gregor Craigie
Publisher: Goose Lane

Mention the word earthquake and most people think of California. But while the Golden State shakes on a regular basis, Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia are located in a zone that can produce the world’s biggest earthquakes and tsunamis. In the eastern part of the continent, small cities and large, from Ottawa to Montréal to New York City, sit in active earthquake zones. In fact, more than 100-million North Americans live in active seismic zones, many of whom do not realize the risk to their community.

Possessing Meares Island: a Historian’s Journey into the Past of Clayoquot Sound
Barry Gough
Publisher: Harbour Publishing

Centred on Meares Island, located near Tofino on Vancouver Island’s west coast, Possessing Meares Island weaves a unique history out of the mists of time by connecting eighteenth century Indigenous-colonial trade relations to more recent historical upheavals. Gough invites readers to enter a dramatic epoch of BC’s coastal history and watch the Nuu-chah-nulth nations spearhead the maritime sea otter trade, led by powerful chiefs like Wickaninnish and Maquinna. Eventually, Meares Island declines into an economic backwater due to overhunting the sea otter, the bloody Clayoquot War of 1855, and most importantly, the proxy of empire—the Hudson’s Bay Company—establishing colonial roots in nearby Victoria. Caught up in the tides of change, the Oregon Treaty of 1846 ushers in a new era as the island is officially declared property of the British Crown.

Gough bridges the gap between centuries as he describes how the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council draw on this complicated history of ownership to invoke their legal claim to the land and defend the majestic wilderness from the indiscriminate clear-cut saw. Possessing Meares Island will not only appeal to history buffs, but to anyone interested in a momentous triumph for Indigenous rights and environmental protection that echoes across the nation today.


Learn more about the Victoria Book Prize categories.


See a full list of winners and finalists, with book descriptions, author bios, and more.


The 2022 Victoria Book Prizes gala will be in person at the Union Club on Wednesday, October 12th. Learn more and see photos from previous years’ celebrations.




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