Fonds - Gilean Douglas fonds

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Gilean Douglas fonds

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  • 1904-1993, predominant 1948-1993 (Creation)
    Douglas, Gilean

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188 cm of textual records and other material

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Biographical history

Gilean Douglas (christened Gillian Joan Coldham Douglas) was born in Toronto, Ont. In 1900. Orphaned at the age of 16, she began to work as a free-lance writer and photographer. Over her lifetime her work appeared in more than 200 publications, often published under pseudonyms (Grant Madison, Armoral Kent and Jill MacLean). Douglas published eight books of poetry and three books of non-fiction, and, from 1961 to 1992, wrote a regular column, "Nature Rambles", for the Victoria Colonist (later Times-Colonist). In 1939, following the collapse of her third marriage, Douglas moved from Ontario to an isolated cabin in the mountains near Hope, B.C. Her first two books of nature writing (one published under the name Grant Madison) document her life there. Her cabin was destroyed by fire in 1947 and two years later she moved to a 138-acre waterfront homestead on Cortes Island with her fourth husband, Philip Douglas, (ne Major). Her marriage ended in 1953 but she remained there until her death in 1993. Her home, Channel Rock, had no road access and no electricity. Douglas had a large garden and supplemented her writing income by selling produce and plants. Douglas took a leading role in community affairs and local politics. She held office in several community organizations and acted as a school trustee. As a member of the Women's Institute, she held local, district, provincial and national office, edited a book on its history, and was awarded a Life Membership in 1989. Douglas was a member of the first Cortes Island Advisory Planning Commission and represented Cortes on the Regional Board of Comox-Strathcona as Alternate Director from 1968 to 1973 and as Director from 1973 until 1977. List of Book Publications: 1952, Now the Green Word (Wings Press, Mill Valley, Ca.); 1953, Poetic Plush (The Story Book Press, Dallas, Texas); 1953, River For My Sidewalk by "Grant Madison"; J. M. Dent & Sons, Toronto, Ont.); 1954, The Pattern Set (Quality Press, Montreal, Quebec); 1959, Modern Pioneers (a history of the Women's Institute, ed. by Douglas; Evergreen Press); 1967, Seascape With Figures (Prairie Press, Iowa City, Iowa); 1973, Now In This Night (Harlo Press, Detroit, Mi.); 1978, Silence Is My Homeland (Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa.); 1979, The Protected Place (Grays Publishing, Sidney, B.C.); 1982, Prodigal (Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, B.C.); 1984, River For My Sidewalk (by Gilean Douglas; Sono Nis Press); 1985, Kodachromes at Midday (Sono Nis Press); 1992, Seascape With Figures - Poems Selected and New (Sono Nis Press).

Custodial history

Upon Douglas death in 1993 her papers were gathered from her house by her literary executor, Gillian Milton. In accordance with Douglas' will, most of her papers and photographs were turned over to the University of British Columbia Library Rare Books and Special Collections. By agreement with UBC, the records and photographs which have to do primarily with Cortes Island were turned over to the Cortes Island Museum and Archives Society in 1999.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the personal records of Gilean Douglas which were produced and accumulated during her personal and literary activities. The preponderance of material dates from 1948 to 1993 and directly concerns her life on Cortes Island. Because of Douglas's involvement in the public life of the island, and her interest in local history, her papers contain a great deal of information about the political, community and social life of Cortes Island. Fonds is composed of the following series: Manuscripts; Correspondence; Literary Records; Regional Director for Area I (Cortes Island); Women's Institute; Women's Auxiliary of the Anglican Church; School District #72; Whaletown Community Club; Channel Rock; Research; "The Log" of the Columbia Coast Mission; Journals and Notebooks; Illustrations and Sketches; Ephemera; Clippings; Maps; Albums and Photographs.

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BCAUL control number: CIM-1621

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