Author Tags: First Nations, Fishing, Kidlit & Young Adult, Maritime

Born in Comox on September 29, 1945, Joan Skogan has been described as a wanderer and a wonderer. Her first book was a collection of nine legends of animals and mythical creatures from the Prince Rupert and Metlakatla area, The Princess and the Sea-Bear and other Tsimshian Stories (Metlakatla Band Council, 1982). She followed her 1983 history of the Skeena River fishery for B.C. Packers with a memoir of working on foreign ships as a Canadian fisheries observer, during which time she lived aboard ships called Antares, Provideniia, Delfin beyond the 200-mile limit, unable to communicate with crewmembers who mostly spoke Russian or Polish. Skogan's exploratory instincts have also led her to compile an ambitious, non-religious survey, Mary of Canada, that records and appreciates the spirit of mercy that resonates from the widespread evidence of the Virgin Mary in Canadian culture. From tacky statuettes to the rock band called Our Lady Peace, Skogan reveals and reflects the ancient, worldwide appeal of Mary beyond the confines of Christian theology.

Skogan has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia and has worked in both fiction and art journalism programs at Banff and Sage Hill. She has taught adults in various schools and has worked for many years in the commercial fishing industry. Her work has appeared in Saturday Night, Georgia Straight, Border Crossings, Brick and Western Living and has been read on several CBC radio programs. Her fiction has appeared in the 1998 Journey Prize Anthology; Winds Through Time: An Anthology of Canadian Historical Young Adult Fiction (Beach Holme, 1998); Canadian Children's Annual; Share a Tale; The Forest West of Our House: The Clayoquot Sound Anthology and others. She has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the CBC Literary Essay Competition and the Western Magazine Awards. She has lived in eastern Europe, including Bosnia, and has resided in Prince Rupert, Nanaimo and on Gabriola Island.


Wallace Stegner Non-Fiction
Long Grain of Truth Prize, Grain magazine, 2003


Skogan, Joan. Mary of Canada The Virgin Mary in Canadian Culture, Spirituality, History, and Geography (Banff Centre Press, 2003)
Skogan, Joan. Moving Water (Beach Holme, 1998)
Skogan, Joan. The Good Companion (Orca Books, 1998)
Skogan, Joan. Voyages at Sea With Strangers (HarperCollins, 1992)
Skogan, Joan. Grey Cat at Sea (Polestar, 1991)
Skogan, Joan. Claudia Stewart (Polestar, 1990)
Skogan, Joan. Skeena: A River Remembered (B.C. Packers Ltd., 1983)
Skogan, Joan. The Princess and the Sea-Bear and other Tsimshian Stories (Metlakatla Band Council, 1982; Polestar, 1990)

[LITHIS / BCBW 2005]

Moving Water
Press Release

Joan Skogan’s Moving Water (Beach Holme $16.95) draws on her own years at sea to tell the story of Rose Bachmann, a woman awash in the nets of transient fishermen. It tells the story of Rose Bachmann, a woman at mid-tide in a life awash in the debris of a mysterious union, in myths both long known and newly invented, in the roughened nets of transient fisherman, in the spirit of the petroglyphs and in the magical coastline of the North Pacific. It is a story winding its way toward the "I", a story which begins with a rebellious youth, grows to take in a wordless marriage, and finally opens to engulf the Russian, Polish and Canadian fishing and cargo ship crews that populate a life dedicated to propulsion, and discovery. It is a quest which roams the swelling waves of personal history and of many of the world's unfathomable seas, at once, as the title suggests, constantly in motion, and yet serenely still. For Rose finds herself at rest in the rock form of a petroglyph entitled The One Who Fell From Heaven, near Prince Rupert, B.C. and there she imagines, in a brilliant song to her past and those she has loved, voyages both real and surreal and the currents of an existence that have brought her to this place, this truth.

5.25 X 8.25 Trade paperback 200 pp ISBN 0-88878-386-8 $16.95 CDN $12.95 US

The Good Companion (Orca $18.95)

Superstition rules the sea. No whistling to call up the winds. No black suitcases to bring death on board. No cans opened upside down for fear of overturning the boat.
In Joan Skogan's The Good Companion (Orca $18.95) the captain holds fast to the old ways. The crew's coffee cups, hung in a row above the sink, always face inboard. First night out, dinner is always the same: ham, scalloped potatoes, raisin pie from the bakery in town.
A girl with long red hair comes alongside in a half-swamped skiff, asking to come aboard. The captain is forced to keep the girl on board when the weather turns foul. "We'll haul nothing but water now," he warns. But the nets are full of fish day after day.
When the red haired girl bakes a chocolate cake, the captain refuses to eat any. "More for us," says the engineer. She sits on the outside bench, where no one ever sat, peeling potatoes for the cook. "No women on boats," the captain complains. At the first opportunity, he returns to port and drops her off. A gale turns into a ferocious winter storm. The dark sea pours over the wheelhouse windows. The boat takes on water. The men wait to go down.
In a final desperate attempt to save the ship the captain calls on the power of the red-headed girl, and sees a vision that challenges his every belief.
Skogan, who makes her home on Gabriola Island, drew on her own commercial fishing experiences for this ghostly tale. Her other
children's books include The Princess and the Sea Bear and Other Tsimshian Stories; and Grey Cat at Sea. Illustrator Stephen McCallum of Victoria is well-known for his work on Belle's Journey and The New Land. As a filmmaker and animator he has worked for Disney and the National Film Board.

[BCBW 1998]

Mary of Canada (2004)
Press Release

For immediate release
January 21, 2004

Joan Skogan to launch Mary of Canada: The Virgin Mary in Canadian Culture, Spirituality, History, and Geography in Vancouver and Nanaimo

West Coast author Joan Skogan will attend upcoming book launches in
Vancouver and Nanaimo to celebrate her new work, Mary of Canada, a compelling exploration of the Virgin Mary in Canada. The 328-page book
with 70 duotone illustrations was recently released by The Banff Centre Press.

A launch will be held Thursday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Hill’s Native
Art in Nanaimo, B.C. with another scheduled for the Vancouver Public Library,
co-sponsored with Banyen Books, on Monday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Canada’s culture is distinguished by the Virgin Mary’s astonishingly frequent presence – her roots in Canadian soil are deep. In the book, rich references delve into literature, history, art, and geography. In locating Mary in this country, Skogan observes the ways she transforms to answer Canadian needs. From Virgin Mary sightings on frosted windows to thrift shop icons, from the Our Lady Peace rock band to traditional prayer, Mary lives in Canada.

Dense, poetic, and lovingly hewn, Skogan’s work, based on years of extensive research, brings the Virgin Mary to Canadian shores. Illustrations, varying from modern art to pop-culture presentations, offer visual context.

Skogan, who currently lives in Nanaimo, was born on the West Coast and holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She has written features for CBC Radio, Saturday Night, Border Crossings, and Georgia Straight. She has also published short stories and prose poems in Grain, Prairie Fire, West Coast Review, and other magazines.

Her first novel, Moving Water, was published in 1998. Other works include Voyages: At Sea with Strangers (1992) and Skeena: A River Remembered (1983). Her books for children are The Princess & the Sea Bear and other Tsimshian Stories (1991), Grey Cat at Sea (1991), and The Good Companion (1998). Earlier this year she won Grain magazine’s Long Grain of Truth Prize for “Chimney Coulee Psalm.”

In praise of Mary of Canada: The Virgin Mary in Canadian Culture, Spirituality, History, and Geography:

“Mary of Canada is….full of tender acts of mercy, gleanings from a millennium of history and brilliant flashes of insight, which taken together add up to sacred meaning.”
−Wayne Grady, The Globe and Mail.

Mary of Canada

Joan Skogan has scoured Canadian towns and tomes for Mary of Canada (Banff Centre $29.95), a non-religious celebration of the cult of Mary that is literally all over the map. “Mary lives in Canada. I know now,” she says. From obscure Virgin Mary references in Lynn Coady’s latest novel to Leonard Cohen’s ribald re-creation of Blessed Kateri Takawitha, Lily of the Mohawk (1656-1680), in Beautiful Losers, to a Dashboard Mary on Canadian blues CD, Skogan shows hundreds of times how and where the appeal of the Virgin Mary in Can-ada is consistent with her followings in more Catholic countries such as Mexico and France. 1-894773-03-9

[BCBW Summer 2004]