Author Tags: Cariboo, Poetry
When Yvonne Mearns Klan of North Vancouver was born in 1930 in a logging camp near Victoria, her Dad cut the umbilical cord while her 17-year-old mother read him instructions from a St. John Ambulance handbook. She developed her literary tastes in the bunkhouses of her youth, where it was common for loggers to recite the bunkhouse ballads of Robert Swanson and other rhyming bards. “They trotted them out on every possible occasion,” says Klan. “This is pre-TV we’re talking about now.” Her affinity for her working class origins led her to compile and edit an historical survey of pioneer poets of British Columbia called The Old Red Shirt (Transmontanus #12, New Star, 2004, $16). It contains poems and biographical notes dating back to James Anderson of Barkerville, touted as the first published poet in B.C. She was assisted and encouraged in the project by her partner Peter Trower, who contributed the introduction. They met during their youth after Peter Trower arrived on the Sunshine Coast at Port Mellon from England. Several of Peter Trower's poetry books are dedicated to Yvonne Klan and his volume that was most directly inspired by their relationship, A Ship Called Destiny, is subtitled Yvonne's Book. Klan died on October, 4, 2004, a few months after her first and only book was printed, following a prolonged battle with cancer.
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Old Red Shirt: Pioneer Poets of British Columbia
The Old Red Shirt (New Star, 2004)
Some of Klan's articles included:
“The Lone Man: Founding of Fort St. John,” British Columbia Historical Newsletter, Fall 2003.
“We Are Travelling Through an Unknown Country,” British Columbia Historical
Newsletter, Winter 2002.
“The Apprenticeship of James Murray Yale,” British Columbia Historical
Newsletter, Fall 1999
“The Temptation of a Safe-cracking Preacher,” Vancouver Magazine, July
“Kanaka William,” The Beaver, Spring 1979.
[BCBW 2004] "Poetry" "Cariboo"
Yvonne Mearns Klan was a writer, historian and avid life master bridge player. Her recently published book, “The Old Red Shirt” garnered glowing reviews and brought her much satisfaction in her final months. Yvonne lived her life with boundless enthusiasm. At her book launch, this past summer, Yvonne in frail health, planned to stay for only ten minutes. But true to form, she was one of the last to leave the party. Her partner and companion of more than 25 years, Peter Trower, described Yvonne as “demon researcher”. She authored numerous historical articles, contributed to the Encyclopedia of BC and made many contributions to the BC Historical Society. She will be especially missed by her daughters, Sandra and Teresa, and their father; her grandchildren, Julian and Celeste; partner and companion of 25 years Peter Trower; sister Jean Huaugan and her husband Joe; numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends. There will be no service at Yvonne’s request, but a tribute to Yvonne, along with details of a November celebration of life, can be found on Peter Trower’s web page: www.petertrower.com
-- New Star Books, October, 2004