WATT, Alison

After completing a biology degree at Simon Fraser University, Alison Watt went on to study botany at the University of British Columbia. She has worked as a seabird researcher and as a naturalist in parks across BC. Her non-fiction has appeared in Canadian Wildlife Magazine; her poetry has appeared in many journals including Event, Room of One's Own and Vintage, the League of Canadian Poets annual anthology. She is also a painter who works and teaches out of her studio on Protection Island, near Nanaimo. She is the author of The Last Island: A Naturalist's Sojourn on Triangle Island (Harbour, 2002).

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Last Island: A Naturalist's Sojourn on Triangle Island

The Last Island: A Naturalist's Sojourn on Triangle Island win Edna Staebler Award
Press Release

For author and artist Alison Watt, receiving the 2003 national Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction for her book The Last Island: A Naturalist's Sojourn on Triangle Island ($34.95, Harbour Publishing) is a true honour. "It re-affirms my hopes that the personal story and the natural history of this incredible island would resonate beyond regional interest—that there might be something in it that could move a reader from not only BC, but Ontario, the Prairies," says Watt, a gifted writer and visual artist who lives and works on Protection Island off the coast of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC.

At just 23 years of age, Watt journeyed to Triangle Island, a wildlife sanctuary off the northern tip of Vancouver Island, to study seabirds and puffins in particular. With only the company of Anne Vallée, a serious young biologist whose dedication made her an inspiring mentor, Alison endured the island's legendary isolation, formidable weather and imposing landscape. Sixteen years later, Watt journeys back to the island to investigate a mysterious decline in its puffin population. From the moment Triangle's landscape comes into view, memories of the summer she spent with Anne, who died on the island just two years after, flood back. The Last Island is a beautifully written testament to the environment, friendship and the human spirit.

In its twelfth year, the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction is a national award administered by Wilfrid Laurier University. It was established by writer and literary journalist Edna Staebler "to give encouragement and recognition to a Canadian writer of a first or second published book with a Canadian locale and/or significance." The award carries a $3,000 cash prize and will be presented during a ceremony on Thursday, November 13, 2003 at the university in Waterloo, Ontario.

The Last Island is also the recipient of the 20th annual Western Regional Book Design and Production Award in the Trade Book, Non-Illustrated category. (Although the book features 40 beautiful watercolours, it qualifies for this category because less than 25 per cent of the book is illustrated.) The award is administered by the Publishers Association of the West (PubWest) and is open to publishers from the western United States and Canada, including 4 provinces and territories (Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, Yukon) and 19 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming). -- Harbour Publishing, 2003

Triangle Island (Harbour)

Alison Watt’s The Last Island: A Naturalist’s Sojourn on Triangle Island (Harbour) has won the Edna Staebler Non-Fiction Prize as well as a Trade Book design prize from the 20th annual Western Regional Book and Production Awards.

[BCBW Winter 2003]