A fascination with Klondike gold rush history led Frances Backhouse to write her bestselling first book, Women of the Klondike (1995), and her second, Hiking With Ghosts: The Chilkoot Trail Then and Now (1999). Her follow-up is Children of the Klondike (2010), mostly drawn from letters, journals. It was named the winner of the 7th Annual City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. According to publicity materials: "From the discovery of gold in 1896 to the emergence of Dawson City as a post-gold-rush town in the early twentieth century, Children of the Klondike chronicles the stories of individual children. Drawing on letters, journals, contemporary accounts and memoirs, it looks at the lives of youngsters who witnessed the treasure hunt of the century firsthand. With anecdotes that range from humorous to heartbreaking, it paints a detailed picture of what it was like to grow up in a rough, yet cosmopolitan northern frontier community populated by lucky millionaires, down-and-out dreamers, "scarlet"; women, and a few adventurous families."

Educated as a biologist, she has written extensively about wildlife, ecology and environmental issues throughout her professional writing career, which began with a feature story in Canadian Geographic in 1985. She is the author of Woodpeckers of North America (2005). Backhouse has been a member of the Association of Professional Biologists of B.C., the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Professional Editors Association. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines since 1985.

Once upon a time there probably 60 million beavers in North America. But the arrival of European fur traders almost wiped the chubby, industrious rodent off the map. Frances Backhouse shares both quirky facts and deeper truths about the reviving species in Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver (ECW $18.95) After the state or Oregon officially adopted the beaver as its state mascot, Canada passed Bill C-373 in 1975 "to provide for the recognition of the Beaver (Castor canadensis) as a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada." 978-1-77041-207-1

CITY/TOWN: Victoria, BC

DATE OF BIRTH: July 20, 1960

PLACE OF BIRTH: Peterborough, Ontario



Women of the Klondike (Whitecap Books, 1995). The story of the adventurous women who joined the Klondike gold rush at the end of the 19th century, drawn from diaries, letters, memoirs and newspaper accounts. Updated with a 14-page epilogue and additional photos in 2000. ISBN 1-55285-089-7. $16.95.

Hiking with Ghosts: The Chilkoot Trail, Then and Now (Raincoast Books, 1999). A portrait of the famous gold rush route, now a popular backpacking trail, based on first-hand experience and extensive research into the human and natural history of the area. ISBN 1-55192-276-2. $26.95.

Castles of the North: Canada's Grand Hotels, edited by Barbara Chisholm (Lynx Images, 2001). This book and the accompanying documentary film celebrate the history of Canada's most elegant and opulent hotels. Backhouse was a co-author, contributing three chapters on Early Dining Stations, the Banff Springs Hotel and Château Lake Louise. ISBN 1-894073-14-2.

Woodpeckers of North America (Firefly Books, 2005). This definitive reference book describes the history, habits, adaptations and future prospects of North American woodpeckers. In addition to chapters on anatomy, communication, nesting, feeding, community ecology and conservation, it provides detailed profiles of all 28 species found in Canada, the U.S. and northern Mexico, including the recently rediscovered ivory-billed woodpecker. Colour photos and line drawings complement the fact-filled text.

Owls of North America (Firefly 2008) contains detailed profiles and range maps of each of the 23 species of owls found in North America, including norther Mexico. $34.95 978-1-55407-342-9

Children of the Klondike (Whitecap 2010). See press release below.

Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver (ECW $18.95) 9781770412071

Beavers: Radical Rodents and Ecosystem Engineers (Orca Wild, 2021) $24.95 9781459824690

[BCBW 2021] "Outdoors" "Women"

Review of the author's work by BC Studies: Once They Were Hats