Kyle Kusch is seen signing a copy of Our Coloured Past, which has won the community history prize of the Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Awards. File photo

UPDATED: Nakusp author wins award at provincial writing competition

Kyle Kusch’s book shows how the Arrow Lakes region has changed over the decades

A Nakusp author’s book has been recognized at the annual Lieutenant Governor’s Historical Writing Awards.

The British Columbia Historical Federation (BCHF), which hosts the awards every year, announced that Kyle Kusch has been given the community history award for his book Our Coloured Past: The Arrow Lakes in the Age of Colour Photography. The award comes with a $500 cheque.

Winners of the competition were meant to be announced at an event in Surrey in June. However, the event was cancelled due to COVID-19 and the BCHF decided to announce the winners early.

Kusch’s book, published last year, showcases 350 colour photographs of the Arrow Lakes and Upper Lardeau regions from 1940 to the present, taken from the Arrow Lakes Historical Society collection. Through the pages, Kusch illustrates the massive changes the Hugh Keenleyside dam had on the region as it flooded historical townsites like Burton, Fauquier, and Edgewood.

Kusch, the historical society’s longtime archives technician, said winning the prize was a “strange, humbling feeling.”

“The book was simply a fun project meant as a coffee table book fundraiser for the society; a way to display some of the awesome imagery in our photographic collection,” he said. “I certainly never anticipated that it would be nominated for major awards, let alone be deemed worthy of winning one.”

Kusch said he doesn’t consider himself an historian, but is “deeply invested” in the part of the world where he was born and raised.

“The love and appreciation I have for the Arrow Lakes made this an incredibly fun book to put together. Getting to work with this photo collection every day is like a four-year-old being paid to play in a sandbox all days with their favourite toys.”

Our Coloured Past started as a slideshow Kusch put together in 2014 to encourage more people to visit the archives and view some rarely-seen items from the collection. The response was strong enough — and the collection large enough — that it wound up being turned into three separate 90-minute shows that had multiple showings and a compilation DVD.

“I think people responded to the fact that recent, local history that took place within their own lifetimes was being portrayed as valuable and meaningful,” Kusch said.

“As important as our previous publications are from a documentation standpoint, the society had written enough 350-page, 150,000 word monoliths; it was time to go in a different, more visual direction, and a book full of vibrant colour photographs was a perfect solution.“

Kusch said he let the photos write the story. He went through the entire photo collection over three days and shortlisted about 400 colour images that he found interesting, then trimmed the final selection down to 350 so they would fit in a 240-page book. He placed them in chronological order and wrote captions for each.

Kusch said he wasn’t necessarily intending to connect the photos to one another, but it happened naturally as he kept writing and the connections became obvious: “Landscapes form people, people in turn reform landscapes, and so on.”

He thanked the historical society for giving him the freedom to work on the project, saying he appreciated their trust and hoped he had paid it back. He added longtime society past president Rosemarie Parent insisted the book be submitted for the award, even though he doubted it would win.

It’s the second straight year that one of the society’s coffee table books has won the award. Last year, the prize went to Bruce Rohn’s SS Minto: The Arrow Lakes’ Longest Serving Sternwheeler. Kusch was heavily involved in designing that book as well.

Also in this year’s competition, Michael Layland won the Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing for his book In Nature’s Realm: Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island. The late Milton Parent, Rosemarie’s husband and another past Arrow Lakes Historical Society president, won the same award for 2001’s Circle of Silver.

The awards celebrate iconic publications from the previous year that contributed to the historical literature of BC.

Related: Okanagan author shortlisted in B.C. historical writing competition


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@castlegarnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Books

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Touchstones Museum has opened up Nelson’s Cold War bunker to the public. The unique exhibit includes artifacts from the 1950s and 60s. Photo: Tyler Harper
Take cover! Cold War bunker opens to public in Nelson

The shelter was built in 1964 in case of nuclear fallout

(L-R) Kazia Hopp, Colby Mackintosh, Hunter Guidon and Russdale Carungui installed the solar panels. Photo: Nakusp Secondary School
Students install 280 solar panels at two SD 10 schools

The panels will help the schools save on their electrical costs

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: Child care

Sixth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Kootenay West Candidates (L to R) Glen Byle (Conservative), Katrine Conroy (NDP), Andrew Duncan (Green), Corbin Kelley (Liberal), Fletcher Quince (Independent, Ed Varney (Independent).
Q&A with Kootenay West candidates: BC Parks

Fifth in a series of Q&As with the candidates, look for a new set each morning.

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Volunteer registered nurse Stephanie Hamilton recieves a swab from a driver as she works at a Covid-19 testing site in the parking lot at Everett Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
13 more COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

There are 624 cases in the region since the start of the pandemic

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Three years ago, Larry Plummer challenged himself to hike up to the flag viewpoint on the Montrose Antenna trail 1,000 times. Photo: Gordon McAlpine
Senior celebrates 500th hike up Kootenay trail

Larry Plummer began his quest to complete 1,000th hike up Antenna Trail just over three years ago

Most Read