A Vancouver author single-handedly trying to spread the history of the Hazeltons far and wide is getting a helping hand from awards committees.
Most significantly, Geoff Mynett’s biography of Dr. Horace Wrinch, Service on the Skeena, is the recipient of the 2021 George Ryga for Social Awareness in literature.
The award is given annually to a British Columbian author “who has achieved an outstanding degree of social awareness in a new book published in the preceding calendar year.”
Mynett told The Interior News, he was, of course, pleased to receive the recognition, but moreover, he was happy that it gives a boost to spreading the word about an area of the province he finds fascinating.
The book also picked up a Prince George Public Library Award earlier in the year.
A retired lawyer originally from the U.K., Mynett became acquainted with the Hazelton area through familial connection. His wife Alice is a granddaughter of Dr. Wrinch.
Since Service on the Skeena was published in 2020, Mynett has published another book that is currently gracing bestseller lists.
Pinkerton’s and the Hunt for Simon Gunanoot was released in March. Gunanoot was a fugitive for 13 years from 1906 to 1919, but the book focusses on one year of the manhunt from 1909 to 1910 when B.C.’s attorney general became frustrated with Gunanoot’s ability to evade capture and called in the famous Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency from Seattle to help with the chase.
Mynett’s research draws on reports from two undercover operatives disguised as prospectors.
“Many of these confidential reports, written around campfires on the treks in the wilderness, provided a vivid picture of life in the frontier town, relations of the settlers and prospectors, and of the conflicting loyalties and tensions in both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” a description of the book states.
Mynett said while Pinkerton’s today is perhaps best known for its strikebreaking activities, the agency contributed greatly to investigative techniques and the reports provide a great deal of insight into the company’s advanced detail-oriented methodology.
The author is far from done with the Hazeltons. In the fall, his next project is scheduled to be published.
In Murders on the Skeena: True Crime in the Old Canadian West, 1884-1914, Mynett constructs a natural and social history of the region around approximately a dozen murders that occurred during that 40-year period.
“Not enough is known about the north down here in Vancouver, so I’m hoping more people learn more about the north,” he said.