Author Tags: Cariboo, Forts and Fur, Gold, Labour
In 1912 Agnes Laut was commissioned by muckraking Saturday Night editor Frederick C. Paul to come to British Columbia and report on why the province was exceedingly fearful of both Asian immigration and the Wobblies union movement. Her intelligent reporting reflected the pervasive racist attitudes of her times. The articles proved so popular that Saturday Night reprinted them in 1913 as a pamphlet sold by news agents. SFU labour historian Mark Leier edited and introduced Laut's reflection of racial politics for Am I My Brother's Keeper? A Study of British Columbia's Labour & Oriental Problems (Subway Books, 2003). "Nearly a century later," Leier writes, "we see neo-liberal governments, closely linked to big business, create chaos by attacking labour, reducing the minimum wage, breaking contracts and relying on the police for protection. They might heed Laut's warning that radicalism is caused by the injustice of the 'free' market and a lack of democratic process."
Born in Huron County, Ontario in 1871, Laut was the daughter of a Scottish merchant. Her mother was the daughter of a clergyman. Raised and educated in Winnipeg, she worked briefly as a teacher prior to a bout of tuberculosis. She became a reporter and editorial writer for the Manitoba Free Press in the 1890s, then a wide-ranging travel writer. Described by Leier as 'tough, skeptical and talented', she eventually emigrated to the U.S. where she wrote a variety of books on subjects such as the Hudson's Bay Company and the Sante Fe Trail. She was also successful as a novelist. Her books include Lords of the North, Heralds of Empire, The Story of the Trapper, Pathfinders of the West, Vikings of the Pacific, Canada at the Crossroads, The Romance of the Rails and Pioneers of the Pacific Coast. She died in 1936.
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Cariboo Trail: A Chronicle of the Gold-fields of British Columbia
Pioneers of the Pacific Coast: A Chronicle of Sea Rovers and Fur Hunters
Lords of the North (Toronto: Ryerson, 1900)
Pathfinders of the West: Being the Thrilling Story of the Adventures of the Men Who Discovered the Great Northwest, Radisson, La Vérendrye, Lewis, and Clark. (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, ; first published 1904).
Vikings of the Pacific (New York: Macmillan, 1905)
Pioneers of the Pacific Coast: A Chronicle of Sea Rovers and Fur Hunters (Toronto: Glasgow, Book & Company, 1915)
Laut, Agnes C. The Conquest of the Great Northwest. Being the story of the adventurers of England known as the Hudson's Bay Company (Toronto: Musson; New York: George H. Doran, 1918). Two volumes.
The Cariboo Trail, A Chronicle of the Gold-fields of British Columbia (Toronto: Glasgow, Book & Company, 1922)
Am I My Brother's Keeper? A Study of British Columbia's Labour & Oriental Problems (Subway Books, 2003)
The Cariboo Trail (Touchwood 2013) $12.95 978-1-77151-033-2
[BCBW 2013] "Racism"