CLARK, Catherine A

Author Tags: Kidlit & Young Adult

Catherine Anthony Clark was born in London, England on May 5, 1892. As young child living in England she first heard about British Columbia from a friend and began bringing home pamphlets from BC House. Eventually her family immigrated in 1914 and settled at Grey Creek, with her widowed father and her seven siblings, in the Kootenay region of B.C. She married a rancher named Leonard Clark and wrote for the community newspaper in Nelson called the Prospector. Her juvenile fantasy novels were set in Western Canada and incorporated some aboriginal legends.

The Golden Pine Cone (Toronto: Macmillan, 1950), published when she was 58, was Clark's first novel and remained the most popular and best-loved of her childrens books. It's the story of two children named Bren and Lucy who find a golden earring, in the shape of a pine cone, dangling from a branch of an alder tree, in the B.C. Interior. By possessing this 'golden pine cone', the children are transported into an Other World where Ooshka, their dog, can talk--as do other animals. The wicked spirit of Nasookin seeks the golden earring and the benevolent female spirit Tekontha, the rightful owner, must regain it in order ensure everyone is protected from Nasookin and his mischief. On their journey to the valley of Tekontha they encounter a monstrous snake, an old mammoth, Squareheads and the Ice People, Wild Woman, Head Goose, Frogskins and Fungus Man. The fantasy has everything but a yellow brick road.

Clark's other titles include The Sun Horse (1951), winner of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians bronze medal in 1952, The One-Winged Dragon (1955), The Silver Man (1958), The Diamond Feather; or The Door in the Mountain: A Magic Tale for Children (1962), The Hunter and the Medicine Man (1966) and The Man with the Yellow Eyes (1963). She died on February 24, 1977 in Victoria.

[BCBW 2003] "Kidlit" "Classic" "Indianology"


SAD IT IS THAT IN AN AGE WHEN CANADIAN content is so often yearned for, and originality is so often mourned, that parents, educators, and families seem to have closed the door forever on the works of Catherine Anthony Clark. Her works have been acknowledged as the beach head of Canadian fantasy, yet they grow deeper into obscurity with each passing year. I would like to suggest that all interested persons visit their library, read one of The Golden Pine Cone, The Sun Horse, The One-Winged Dragon, The Silver Man, The Diamond Feather or The Hunter and The Medicine Man. Then, write to the publisher Macmillan of Canada, 29 Birch Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1E2to urge that these classic works be reprinted.

R.M. Stewart

[Summer/BCBW 1989]