Betty Keller
Her Books

Better the Devil You Know                                                        A Thoroughly Wicked Woman

Trick Doors and Other Dramatic Sketches                                 Taking Off

Opening Trick Doors                                                                Improvisations in Creative Drama

Pauline: A Biography Of Pauline Johnson                                  Black Wolf: The Life Of Ernest Thompson Seton

On The Shady Side: Vancouver 1886-1914                                Bright Seas And Pioneer Spirits: The Sunshine Coast

Sea Silver: Inside British Columbia's Salmon Farming Industry    Forests, Power And Policy: The Legacy Of Ray Williston

Pauline Johnson: The First Aboriginal Voice                              Pender Harbour Cowboy: The Many Lives of Bertrand Sinclair

Skookum Tugs: British Columbia's Working Tugboats               A Stain Upon the Sea: West Coast Salmon Farming
Betty Carol Keller born in Vancouver, B.C., Betty Keller has lived in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, Okanagan and Kootenay areas, as well as in Nigeria. She taught high school drama and English for many years, worked as a faculty associate in Simon Fraser University's Education Dept, and taught creative writing at the University of B.C. She was the leading member of the group which founded the SunCoast Writers Forge, The Festival of the Written Arts and the Sunshine Coast Writers -in- Residence Program, and she was the Festival's producer from 1983 to 1994. She is a member of The Writers Union of Canada. Having retired to the Sunshine Coast in 1980, she writes, edits and mentors other writers. Besides the books listed above , she is also the author of Legends of the River People (November House). It is no longer in print.
Betty Keller is recipient of The Gillian Lowndes Memorial Award for contributions to the cultural life of the Sunshine Coast, (1985), The Lescarbot Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to regional cultural activities(1991), The Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada (1992), the Talewind Books Award (1996), and The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2002).
Better the Devil You Know
(The Caitlin Press, 2001)
A picaresque novel of early Vancouver nightlife. Meet the Reverend Abercrombie Dodds, better known to his friends--and enemies--as Crumbie Dodds, and his wild assortment of associates, including a couple of prostitutes who could never be accused of having hearts of gold, and a five-year-old hellion whom Crumbie is desperately anxious to unload.


Better the Devil You Know is an outrageous romp of a novel set in turn-of the-century Vancouver when Gastown was still the hub of the fast-evolving city. . . . Amazingly, Keller is not kidding when she says that much of this tale is constructed on fact. The story is also liberally peppered with actual photos, mostly prised from the B.C. and City of Vancouver archives. However, Keller confesses candidly that she has used poetic licence to play fast and loose with the historical facts. Clearly it was time for Keller, the historian, to let her literary hair down a little. So why not suspend some disbelief and join her? Beth Haysom, The Victoria Times-Colonist.
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(November House, 1974).
Fourteen of my very short plays. It was used as a course book for Grades 11 & 12 Acting in B.C. schools from 1975 to 1984. 129 pages. The plays "Holed-Up" and "Tea-Party" from this book were produced on CBC Radio; "Sophie" was published in Inquiry into Literature by Fillion and Henderson [Collier-Macmillan Canada, 1981]; "The Victim" was published in The Process of Writing by Parker [Addison-Wesley, 1983] and also in The Independent Writer by Parker [Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986]; "Tea-Party" was published in Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing by Roberts and Jacobs [Prentice Hall, Editions 2 through 5, 1988 to 1997].      Buy Now
(November House, 1975).
A handbook for secondary school teachers of creative drama, it was used as a course book for Grade 8 creative drama in B.C. schools from 1975 to 1983. 66 pages.
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(November House, 1975).
A guide for teachers and directors using Trick Doors and Other Dramatic Sketches, it suggests warm-up exercises and creative drama techniques to get the most out of the actors. 33 pages.
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(Merriwether Publishing and Contemporary Drama Service, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1988) 175 pages.
This is a combination of Trick Doors and Other Dramatic Sketches, Opening Trick Doors, and Taking Off in a single volume for the high school, college and amateur theatre trade, marketed in the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
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(Douglas & McIntyre, 1982) is the definitive biography of this Mohawk poet who lived from 1861 to 1913. It was the winner of the Canadian Biography Medal for 1982 and a Book of the Month Club selection for April 1983. It was issued in the United States by Salem House in 1986; the Canadian paperback edition was released by James Lorimer Publishing in 1987; it was optioned for film by Dreamreel Limited in June 1998. 317 pages.
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(Douglas & McIntyre in Canada, and Salem House in the United States, 1984) is the definitive biography of the eccentric naturalist who wrote Two Little Savages and Wild Animals I Have Known. It was a Book of the Month Club selection in February 1985, and released in paperback format by Douglas & McIntyre in Canada in March 1986 and by Salem House in the U.S. in April 1986. 240 pages.
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(Horsdal & Schubart), 1986).

Although the recorders of the early years in Vancouver, B.C. were careful not to take note of that city's underbelly for posterity, this humorous account exposes all of its citizens' sins and indiscretions in glorious detail. Drugs, alcohol, prostitution, graft and corruption. You name it, they did itbut with finesse! 121 pages.
Sorry, Out of Print

(Touchwood Editions, 2009) With co-author Rosella M. Leslie.
A newly revised and updated edition of the history of the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, including a brief outline of geologic history, flora and fauna, and in-depth histories of local industries: logging, fishing and aquaculture, mining, and tourism.
The first edition of this history, published by Horsdal & Schubart in 1996, won third prize in that year's B.C. Historical Federation Writing Competition in a field of 45 submissions. 246 pages.

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(Horsdal & Schubart, 1996) with co-author Rosella M. Leslie.

A primer on the west coast's salmon farming industry including a history beginning with the first experimental farms in the mid- 1960s and an outline of the economic and ecological impact of the industry. 138 pages.
Sorry, Out of Print

(The Caitlin Press, 1997) with the late Eileen Williston.

A personal biography of Ray Williston, former MLA for Fort George, B.C. Minister of Education from 1954 to 1956, and Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources from 1956 to 1972. Autographed copies still available in paperback. 318 pages.
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(XYZ Publishing, 1999)

This is a new biography of the Mohawk poet, E. Pauline Johnson, intended for young adult readers. It is #3 in XYZ's Quest Library series.
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PENDER HARBOUR COWBOY: The Many Lives of Bertrand Sinclair
(Touchwood Editions, a new Heritage/Horsdal & Schubart imprint, 2000)
This is a biography of writer Bertrand Sinclair, British Columbia's least known highly successful novelist who lived from 1881 to 1972. Born in Scotland, he grew up on the Canadian prairies and in the Peace River country, became a cowboy in Montana, then a writer of westerns. After coming to B.C. in 1912, he began writing logging and fishing stories, and ended his life as a salmon fisherman. His best known work is Poor Man's Rock.
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A Thoroughly Wicked Woman. See Vancouver Sun Feature Article Jan. 8/11
Based on a true story.
On a foggy evening in November 1905, 48-year-old Thomas Jackson returned to his home on Melville Street in Vancouver after nine months of prospecting north of the Skeena River. He was happy because he had just made a significant gold strike. Four days later he was dead from strychnine that had been slipped into his morning dose of Epsom salts and beer. Reporters from Vancouver's newspapers chose Jackson's teary-eyed, fragile, 24-year-old wife, Theresa, as their first choice for the guilty party. Then as the days went by, their preference shifted to the dead man's steely-eyed, light-fingered, American mother-in-law, Esther Jones. Suspicion also fell on the two boarders-Harry Fisher and Ernest Exall. What followed was a series of hearings and trials with fledgling lawyers trying to make their names in judicial combat while the newspapers, locked in a deadly circulation war, tried desperately to scoop each other with juicy bits of information.


Skookum Tugs: British Columbia's Working Tugboats
Photography by Robb Douglas
Text by Betty Keller and Peter Robson

Published in 2002, this insider story of the tugboat industry on Canada's west coast won the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award for that year as "the best work published in British Columbia."
"Skookum Tugs: British Columbia's Working Tugboats . . . conveys the feel and language of the Pacific Northwest right from the word "skookum" in the title. The word, which migrated into the English language from the Chinook Indian trade jargon, means both good and strong-a fitting description for the tugs in this book. The text by Peter Robson and Betty Keller describes, in an introduction and five tightly written chapters, how the British Columbia industry has developed and maintained itself around the forest industry. From towing the acres of slow-moving log booms to the huge self-dumping log barges, the importance and challenges of moving logs on a coast with few roads through weather-protected but current-filled passages can't be overstated. . . . A chapter entitled "Ship Wrangling" describes the work of putting ships into and out of the docks around the port of Vancouver. A final chapter takes its title from that oft-repeated description of tow-boating:
"Many hours of boredom punctuated with moments of terror. . . . This is a book that will warm the heart of anyone with marine experience, while it will show those without marine experience something of what it is that keeps calling the mariner back to sea."  Alan Haig-Brown in Professional Mariner #75 October/November 2003
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Though years and years of shoddy logging and farming practices near streams, mine tailings leaking into rivers, untreated human waste being pumped into the ocean, and the damming of salmon-bearing waters have imperilled Pacific salmon stocks, it is the most recent menace-salmon farms-that will finally destroy the last of these remarkable animals unless drastic measures are taken-and soon. A Stain Upon the Sea, which contains a condensed and updated version of Sea Silver: Inside British Columbia's Salmon Farming Industry (1996) by Rosella M. Leslie and Betty C. Keller, synthesizes the various threads of danger posed by salmon farming to wild fish, the threat posed by the Atlantic salmon which are being cultivated in west coast fish farms, and the lethal infestations of sea lice originating on salmon farms. Leslie and Keller chronicle the haphazard growth of the industry, the contradictions in DFO and MAFF regulations, the unwillingness of government to investigate or police the industry, and its control by foreign multinational companies.

Winner of the 2005 Roderick Haig-Brown Prize given annually for the book which "merits distinction as the work contributing most to an appreciation of British Columbia."
Finalist for the Second Annual George Ryga Award for Social Awareness, sponsored by CBC Radio, Okanagan College, BC Book World and the George Ryga Centre.

Currently, the corporate-government collusion prioritizes the profiteering of salmon-farming operations with minimal regard for the environment, wild creatures, First Nations and the health of workers and consumers while staunchly refusing cost-incurring alternatives. In western society, citizens caught stealing from corporations are severely punished, but when corporations steal the right of citizens to a clean environment and healthful food, they are too often unpunished and seldom penalized harshly. As A Stain Upon the Sea illustrates, this is a scenario that must be changed-the continued existence of wild Pacific salmon may depend upon it.
Kim Peterson, Shunpiking: The Discovery Magazine (online)

A Stain Upon the Sea is a necessary critique of fish farming practices used in BC and abroad, featuring an all-star cast of contributors. BC Book Prizes
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