Rolf Knight is one of BC’s foremost historians, who has shared the life stories of Canada’s working class through numerous works published in the last two decades. Knight has been announced as the 2017 recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, the province’s most prestigious literary honour.
Born in Vancouver in 1936, Knight spent much of his early years in logging and mining camps on BC’s coast. After completing his graduate studies at UBC, Knight traipsed around the US and the world before finishing his doctorate at Columbia University in New York and beginning his long teaching career at universities across North America.
Knight’s first book, A Very Ordinary Life (New Star Books, 1974), followed his mother’s difficult life to Canada from Germany, panning for gold in Lillooet and living in logging camps. The book was life-changing and Knight left academia to write full-time. Driving a taxi in Vancouver, he continued to publish books showing the complexity of the working class in Vancouver and Canada.
Knight is also the author of A Man of Our Times (with Maya Koizumi, 1976), Indians At Work (1978; 1996), and Homer Stevens: A Life In Fishing (1992). His 1980 title, Along the No. 20 Line has become a classic of local history and was republished in 2011 by New Star Books as part of the Vancouver Legacy 125 titles.
Knight received the Canadian Historical Association award for his contributions to regional history in 1992, and continues to live and write in Vancouver.
Rolf Knight will receive the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award at a special public presentation on June 29 with Wade Davis, who is this year’s recipient of the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness.
The George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award is co-sponsored by the Writers’ Trust of Canada and Dr. Yosef Wosk, and includes a $5,000 prize and plaque added to Vancouver Public Library’s Writers Walk of Fame. Past recipients include Wayson Choy, Jean Barman, W.P. Kinsella, Alice Munro, David Suzuki, Eric Nicol and William New.