Author Tags: Illustration

As Chair of the Douglas College History department, Gail Edwards co-authored Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing (UTP 2010) with Judith Saltman. 978-0-8020-8540-7 $39.95. See review below.


Bachelor of Arts, University of British Columbia, 1980

Master of Arts in the History of Art, Rosary College, Florence, Italy, 1983

Master of Library Science, University of British Columbia, 1994

Ph.D., Educational Studies, University of British Columbia, 2001

Dissertation: Creating Textual Communities: Anglican and Methodist Missionaries and Print Culture in British Columbia, 1858-1914. University of British Columbia.


“Bibliography of British Columbia,” BC Studies, September 2000-date.

Edwards, Gail, and Judith Saltman. Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing. University of Toronto Press, 2010.

Lepage, Françoise, Judith Saltman, and Gail Edwards. “Children’s Authors and Their Markets” The History of the Book in Canada. Volume 3, 1918-1980, ed. by Carole Gerson and Jacques Michon, 145-153. University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Pouliot, Suzanne, Judith Saltman, and Gail Edwards. “Publishing for Children.” Volume 3, 1918-1980, ed. by Carole Gerson and Jacques Michon, 216-225. University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Edwards, Gail. “‘The Picturesqueness of His Accent and Speech’: Methodist Missionary Narratives and William Henry Pierce’s Autobiography.” In Canadian Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples: Representing Religion at Home and Abroad, ed. Jamie Scott and Alvyn Austin, 67-87. University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Edwards, Gail. “William Collison.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 15. University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Saltman, Judith, and Gail Edwards. “Elizabeth Cleaver, William Toye, and Oxford University Press: Creating the Canadian Picturebook.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 42, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 31-64.

Saltman, Judith, and Gail Edwards. “Towards a History of Design in Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books. Canadian Children’s Literature, no. 107 (2002): 10-41.

Edwards, Gail. “Anglican Church,” “United Church,” “Presbyterian Church,” “Methodist Church,” Encyclopedia of British Columbia. Harbour, 2000.

Edwards, Gail. “Writing Religion into the History of British Columbia,” BC Studies, no. 113 (Spring 1997): 101-105.

[BCBW 2010]

Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing

So you wanna be an author? For Judith Saltman and Gail Edwards, it took eleven years of slogging—and endless cups of coffee and tea (and the occasional glass of wine)—to complete their research and interview 136 authors, illustrators, publishers, designers, librarians, children’s literature specialists and booksellers.

That’s how many people were consulted for Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children’s Illustrated Books and Publishing, a one-of-a-kind overview that investigates the history of publishing for children in Canada, and asks what might be particularly Canadian about the text and illustrations in Canadian publications for children.

How have the depictions of Canada in children’s books changed over time? Do authors, illustrators and publishers think that Canadian identity is important when they create books for Canadian children? Do Canadian children need Canadian children’s books?

Does it matter?

Among their B.C. interviewees were notables Sheila Egoff, Ron Jobe, Janice Douglas, Sarah Ellis and Kit Pearson. They also talked to picturebook creators—including Sheryl McFarlane, Ann Blades, Sue Ann Alderson and Linda Bailey—about the relationship of image and text, place and identity—and examined the folk art covering every inch of Stefan Czernecki’s highrise apartment.

Bookseller Phyllis Simon of Vancouver Kidsbooks discussed the challenges and rewards of the independent children’s book trade. Publishers Bob Tyrrell (Orca Book Publishers), Michael Katz (Tradewind Books), and Dimiter Savoff (Simply Read Books) gave their views on regional, national, and global markets.

In some cases Edwards and Saltman had to become detectives to locate the heir of an illustrator whose book was so long out of print that the original publisher no longer existed, or had become part of a multinational corporation which had not retained the publishing records of their predecessors. Efforts to track the estate of Hazel Boswell, a Paris-trained artist and the granddaughter of BC Lieutenant-General Sir Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière, were rewarded by the cooperation of a nonagenarian cousin.

At Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, during a swelteringly hot week in July, they read through boxes of correspondence with art directors and editors, examined rough sketches, and compared finished art work to the printed image. “Anyone undertaking a history of publishing,” they discovered, “is reliant on the corporate memory of institutions that may not recognize the importance of their own history.”

The collection of early children’s publications held in Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of British Columbia was a prime resource.

As well, at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at the Toronto Public Library, they confirmed that self-consciously Canadian publishing for children began at the turn of the twentieth century. They discovered a fine example in the publication of David Boyle’s Uncle Jim’s Canadian Nursery Rhymes, illustrated by C. W. Jefferys. His original watercolour illustration for the cover of the 1908 work was such a striking representation of a distinctively Canadian landscape that it became their choice for the cover of Picturing Canada.

And so, with help from almost 100 graduate research assistants from UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, Picturing Canada has found its way into the world, and the previously undocumented history of children’s publishing in Canada has been documented.

Judith Saltman and Gail Edwards have also developed a database of Canadian award-winning illustrated books; mounted a website for the project at www.canadianchildlit.ca; and organized an exhibition of Canadian children’s illustrated books based on Picturing Canada that was on display at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections during the summer.

“And in the process of writing,” they conclude, “we have come to believe, more than ever, that a vibrant and healthy Canadian children’s publishing and bookselling trade is critically important if Canadian children are going to have access to Canadian children’s books in their homes, their schools and their libraries.”


[BCBW 2010]