The cover of Wayne Norton’s latest book, ‘Beneath the Coal Dust’. (Image courtesy of Caitlin Press)

The cover of Wayne Norton’s latest book, ‘Beneath the Coal Dust’. (Image courtesy of Caitlin Press)

New Elk Valley history book to launch this week

‘Beneath the Coal Dust’ by Wayne Norton is about the historical journeys of the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass

Contributed by John Kinnear

Former Free Press Columnist

As a historian who did in-depth research in the Fernie area for 25 years I can speak to the remarkable significance of this area’s history. I can also say, without hesitation, that Wayne Norton’s contribution to documenting the important and also little known stories that are such a part of this city’s fabric is invaluable.

Norton’s list of publications that relate directly to the Elk Valley include The Forgotten Side of the Border (1998), A World Apart (2002) and the hugely comprehensive tome Fernie at War, 1914-1919 which won the Community History award from the BC Historical Federation. Fernie at War is probably the most important book ever written on Fernie’s early years.

Wayne’s meticulous research has been turned towards the area for one last time with his latest effort entitled; Beneath the Coal Dust: Historical Journeys in the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass. Of his new book, Norton says he feels the title speaks for itself. Norton hopes readers will come to share his belief that the Elk Valley has the most fascinating and diverse history in all of British Columbia.

Wayne Norton was born in Calgary, raised as an Air Force brat in Canada and Scotland, and now lives in Victoria, BC. Wayne’s teaching career in British Columbia and England involved classes ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in subjects such as music, special education and history. More recently, he worked as a research consultant for the Indian Residential School Resolution Process. With degrees in history from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, Wayne enjoys exploring neglected topics.

Norton, who has family roots in Fernie, notes that the province’s southeast corner has rarely been included in narratives about the provincial past. Beneath the Coal Dust: Historical Journeys in the Elk Valley and Crowsnest Pass, published by Caitlin Press, invites readers to explore a dozen forgotten topics, ranging from the champion women’s ice hockey team to the controversial red-light district, the historic brewery, and the history of the Chinese community.

Be sure to catch Norton’s book launch this Saturday, October 8th at the Hunter’s Bakery Luncheon at Fernie Seniors Drop-In Centre at 12 Noon. Tickets available at the Fernie Museum or online. His book can be ordered through independent bookstores, Indigo, and from the publisher, Caitlin Press.

READ MORE: Fernie author through to national independent award finals



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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