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Cove Continuity Advisors > Cove Community  > A Tribute to Christie Harris: Renowned BC Author and Inspirational Grandmother

A Tribute to Christie Harris: Renowned BC Author and Inspirational Grandmother

Written by: Christie Geiss, Advisor/Co-Owner

On December 13th, nine members of the Harris family converged on Victoria’s Government House. The occasion marked a delightful milestone – the installation of books penned by my grandmother, BC author Christie Harris, into their library. Our delightful gathering and subsequent guided wander through ‘the Ceremonial Home of all British Columbians’ was indeed a blend of fun, festivity, and enlightenment.

For those wondering, Christie Harris is not just a household name for my family, but for numerous Canadians as well. As her namesake, I joined my father Brian, Aunt Sheilagh and Uncle Gerald, along with their spouses and the “cousins” on this memorable trip where we commemorated my grandmother’s remarkable life and legendary body of work.

Christie Harris (1907-2002) was a literary virtuoso, having written 20 books, which included an array of captivating novels and riveting compilations of Indigenous legends. Over her illustrious career, she collected many laurels – in 1973, she won the Vicky Metcalf Award; went on to become a Member of the Order of Canada in 1980; and in 1998, she received the Terasen Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Literary Career in British Columbia. Three months following her death, the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize was declared as a new BC Book Prize Category, in her honor.

Beyond just her prowess as an author, which she embraced fully in her 50s, Christie was a two-decade-long writer for CBC radio and mother of five. Unforgettable were the moments when she’d visit my childhood classrooms to read her books. Her inexhaustible energy, her charisma, and her role as a female champion, navigating spaces typically commanded by men at her time, made her a truly inspirational figure in my life. After a remarkable journey, she passed away in January 2002, with her well-attended funeral held at the Vancouver Public Library and saw members of the Haida Gwaii nation honor her memory through soulful songs and drumming.

Among Christie’s treasure trove of literary masterpieces, my favorites comprise the books where she illuminated the lives of her children. These narratives provided intimate insights into the lives of my aunts and uncles. My Uncle Michael’s story of audacity as a fighter pilot was captured in “Let X be Excitement”. Aunt Moira’s artistic prowess and literary adventures were remembered in “You Have to Draw the Line Somewhere”, and Aunt Sheilagh’s quaint tales were brought to life in “Confessions of a Toe Hanger”. Though there was no specific book about my father, he found his way into all of the above narratives, underscoring the strength of family ties in Christie’s world.

Our journey that day included a tour of the current BC books already housed within the Government House, held away from public view. However, we didn’t get to see Christie’s book in situ. The authorities have plans for a dedicated BC authors’ room within the Government House that will be open to the public for browsing. We welcome this initiative wholeheartedly and look forward to its implementation soon. This will allow these treasured works to be displayed in an architectural and historically significant setting. Christie Harris always advocated for the accessibility of knowledge to all, and this move would undoubtedly make her proud.

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