Gray Campbell

Gray’s Publishing Ltd. of Sidney published 61 titles between 1962 and 1982. It was established by Gray Campbell, born on Februrary 4, 1912, in Ottawa. He served in the RCMP (1932-1939) and the RCAF (1939-1945) before turning to cattle ranching for 12 years in the Alberta foothills. He published a memoir about his ranching life, We Found Peace, in 1953. He was greatly assisted in his ranching and publishing business by his war bride Eleanor Russell (Benson) Campbell, his partner for “59 glorious years”. They moved to the West Coast for health reasons, after which Gray Campbell only entered publishing because a blind war veteran named John Windsor was unable to get his memoir accepted by eastern Canadian publishing houses. Gray Campbell published Windsor’s Blind Date using a down payment of $250 won in a CBC-TV show called Live A Borrowed Life, forerunner to Front Page Challenge. His office was established in a converted chicken coop behind his house in Sidney. The company’s second title was a silly, comic memoir by Hazel O’Neail, Doukhobor Daze, that did little to engender respect for the much misunderstood and persecuted Doukhobors at the time. In 1964, Campbell published his first bestseller, The Pacific Gardener.In his retirement, Gray Campbell co-authored Yukon Memories: A Mountie’s Story with Jack ‘Tich’ Watson and a parish history called St. Andrew’s Parish of Sidney (Sidney: St Andrew’s Anglican Church, 1996) with Marcia LeClair. His own self-effacing memoir was Butter Side Up.Gray Campbell died on June 10, 2000, not long after he was able to attend and fully enjoy the presentation of the first Gray Campbell Award in March of that same year to Alan Twigg, publisher of BC BookWorld. Subsequent winners have included former bookseller Thora Howell of Nanaimo, Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of BC and former head librarian at UBC, Basil Stuart-Stubbs.

Titles by this author