LAMBERT, Barbara Ann




Author Tags: Education, Kidlit & Young Adult, Local History

Barbra Ann Lambert's Homesteading and Stump Ranching on the West Coast 1880–1930 (Friesens 2015) was accorded second place in the 2016 BC Genealogical Society Book Awards.

Born in Yorkshire, England at the outset of World War II, Barbara Ann Lambert attended schools in Yorkshire and Lancashire, then studied at Liverpool University and University of British Columbia. At the latter she received an Education degree in History and Special Education in 1975, having immigrated to Canada in 1966.

She taught in Powell River, where she later married Studart Lambert, as well as in Germany and England. Upon her retirement from teaching in Powell River in 1997, she began her self-publishing with a local history, In Paradise: West Coast Stories, 1890-1960 (Powell River: The Author, 1998).

Not to be confused with fiction writer Barbara Lambert, Barbara Ann Lambert independently published Chalkdust & Outhouses: West Coast Schools, 1893-1950 (Powell River: The Author, 2000) and Rusty Nails & Ration Books: Great Depression and WW II Memories 1929-1945 (Victoria: Trafford, 2002). The former title is a collection of reminiscences from those who could recall the early days of school life on the coast between Bella Coola and Jervis Inlet. The latter was written to commemorate her husband Stuart Lambert who died in 2001 at age 87.

Ostensibly a children's book, The Mystery of Billy-Goat Smith (Victoria: Trafford, 2005, $10) by Barbara Ann Lambert recalls the life and rumoured illegal activities of a hermit who resided on a 160-acre homestead at Jim Brown Creek, at the head of Powell Lake, forewarning others: "Powell River People and Dogs Please KEEP OFF." Its subject, Robert Bonner Smith, who came to Powell River in 1910 and died in 1958, was renowned for keeping goats. The Powell River News speculated he was the unacknowledged partner in a 1932 robbery of the Patricia Theatre by notorious criminals William Bagley and Gordon Fawcett. Local residents also suspected Smith was complicit in the much-publicized high society murder of architect Stanford White in the United States in 1906. There was speculation that millionaire Harvey Thaw had hired a hitman--the reclusive Smith, who had subsequently fled to Canada--as inferred by an article in Colliers magazine. The sensational story became the basis of a movie, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, in the 1950s.

Lambert was prompted to write The Mystery of Billy Goat Smith after sifting through a family trunk and finding two letters signed Billy Goat. Both were written before Smith kept goats, indicating he had acquired his nickname for a different reason--possibly because he was known to be a sharpshooter who could hit a goat from a half-a-mile away. After Smith received more than $6,000 in compensation for flooding of Powell Lake, he kept his money in glass jars hidden in the dirt floor of his root house.

In 2007, Lambert edited Old Time Stories: Billy Goat Smith, Powell River Co. Xmas, Mr. Dippie & others (Trafford, 2007), a collection of stories told by seniors in the Power River community.

Published for Powell River’s centenary, Barbara Lambert’s Powell River, 100 Years is a collection of oral histories of the Upper Sunshine Coast, focussing on the Italian community. Lambert interviewed old timers, some of whom have since passed away, and she has gathered remarkable historic photographs from family albums. 978-1-4269-0547-6

[BCBW 2016] "Education" "Local History" "Kidlit"