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Charles Lillard

Charles "Red" Lillard (February 26, 1944 – March 27, 1997) was an American-born poet and historian who spent much of his adult life in British Columbia and became a Canadian citizen in 1967. He wrote extensively about the history and culture of British Columbia, Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.[1]

Early life and education

Lillard was born in Long Beach, California and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska. His parents made a living from fishing. Lillard attended the University of British Columbia, earning a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts.[2]


Lillard published several books of poetry; his work was also included in literary publications and anthologies.[3] His collection Shadow Weather was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award.[2]

Lillard wrote extensively, and also collected and published stories, about the history of Canada's west coast.[4] His book Seven Shillings a Year: the History of Vancouver Island won a BC Book Award in 1986.[5] Lillart also wrote many stories of his travels and experiences in an informal style;[6] he has been criticized for including names of people in his reminiscences without explaining who they were.[7]

In 1978, 1979,and 1981 Lillard was co-editor (with Robin Skelton) of three themed issues, "The West Coast Renaissance" of the literary magazine The Malahat Review.[3] In 2016 a foundation was set up in Lillard's name which presents an award each year to an author whose non-fiction work has appeared in The Malahat Review.

He died of cancer, at his home in Oak Bay, British Columbia in 1997. He left his wife, writer Rhonda Batchelor Lillard, and two children, Benjamin (b. 1984) and Joanna (b. 1986).



  • Cultus Coulee - 1971
  • Drunk on Wood - 1973
  • Jabble - 1975
  • Voice, My Shaman - 1976
  • Poems - 1979 (with Doug Beardsley)
  • Circling North - 1988
  • Shadow Weather: Poems, Selected and New - 1996



  • Seven Shillings a Year - 1986
  • Fernwood Files - 1989 (with J. Ellis)
  • The Brother, XII, B.C. Magus: A Quest for The Brother, XII - 1989 (with Ron MacIsaac and Don Clark)
  • Land of Destiny - 1991 (with Michael Gregson)
  • Just East of Sundown - 1995
  • A Voice Great Within Us: The Story of Chinook - 1998 (with Terry Glavin)[10]


  • In the Wake of the War Canoe - 1981
  • Dreams of Freedom: Bella Coola, Cape Scott, Sointula - 1982
  • Warriors of the North Pacific: Missionary Accounts of the Northwest Coast, The Skeena and Stikine Rivers, and the Klondike, 1829-1900 - 1984
  • Nootka - 1986
  • The Ghostland People - 1989
  • The Call of the Coast - 1992


  1. ^ "Writing the West Coast: In Love with Place: Anita Sinner" Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch, BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, 162 (Summer 2009)
  2. ^ a b Charles Lillard's entry in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. ^ a b Allan Brown. "Some West Coast Words". The Antigonish Review. issue 107
  4. ^ "Father Brabant and the Hesquiat of Vancouver Island" Study Sessions, 50 (1983), 553-68. CCHA.
  5. ^ "Seven Shillings a Year: the History of Vancouver Island". Winners:The Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing. BC Book Awards website
  6. ^ Barry M. Gough (1 November 2011). Gunboat Frontier: British Maritime Authority and Northwest Coast Indians, 1846-1890. UBC Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-7748-4505-2.
  7. ^ "Inside Outdoors". by Eric Ormsby, Books in Canada.
  8. ^ Ronald P Draper (27 January 1989). The Literature of Region and Nation. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-349-19721-7.
  9. ^ Kenneth W.Meadwell, "Filters of Time" review of A Coastal Range. in Poets & Politics. Special issue of Canadian Literature 105 (Summer 1985): 140-142.
  10. ^ "Can We Still Speak Chinook?". The Tyee, Nicholas Klassen, 10 January 2006
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Charles Lillard
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