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Local historian Valerie Giles mourned

Valerie Giles a longtime Prince George Citizen columnist who authored Remembering... from 1998 to 2009 recently passed away.
Valerie Giles web
Valerie Giles, local historian and former Prince George Citizen columnist, is interviewed by the local television station in February, 2016 where she talked about the history of The Prince George Citizen on its 100th anniversary.

Valerie Giles, an award-winning local historian and longtime Prince George Citizen columnist, is being remembered for her decades of writing after she passed away recently.

Giles, an active member of the City of Prince George’s Heritage Commission, also wrote reviews of events showcased in the community during those years, authored historical books and contributed to many other publications written about the community’s past.

She attended Simon Fraser University and earned her masters degree in educational administration in 1983.

In 1994, Giles received her Ph.D. in policy studies from the University of British Columbia.

She taught the history of curriculum development in Canada at UNBC as a sessional instructor in the Master of Education program and wrote several books on the history of Prince George including Harold Moffat and The Northern Hardware: Prince George Icons.

Giles won her first Prince George Public Library’s Jeanne Clarke Award in 1999 for her Remembering... columns in the Citizen and then again in 2008 for the Harold Moffat book.

In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal that served to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

With the help of CNC librarian Kathy Plett, the college compiled 560 of Giles’ Citizen columns into a book., Remembering... 1998-2009.

In the book’s acknowledgements, Giles offered these words of gratitude.

“I wish to acknowledge The Prince George Citizen for providing a platform for the intriguing stories which make up this city’s history. I am grateful to the succession of editors (Peter Godfrey, John Harding, Dave Paulson) who valued having a window on the past.”

The columns featured wartime history, distinguished citizens and focused on significant development in local industry.

Trelle Morrow, a member of the Prince George Heritage Commission alongside Giles, said his most recent book The Making of a Cathedral, published in May wouldn’t have been possible without Giles’ input.

“Valerie collaborated with me on the book I published this year,” Morrow said. 

And she wrote the introduction.

“She provided quite a lot of information about the history of the Catholic church in Prince George,” Morrow added. “I was fortunate to have Valerie cooperating with me in my writing.”

Most of the information came from Giles and Father John Garden, he added.

“So I owe them a big debt and they appreciated having the book out because the information hasn’t been out in any form,” Morrow said.

As an architect, Morrow designed Sacred Heart and it was built in 1960 but didn’t have the designation of a cathedral until a bishop was present. That occurred when Bishop John O’Grady moved to Prince George from Prince Rupert in 1965 and Giles had all that documented information.

“Valerie was a great contributor to the Heritage Commission and quite frankly The Making of a Cathedral would not have got out if had not been for Valerie Giles. She was the expert on Catholicism in our community and it was good to have someone like that in the community. You have to admire knowledgeable people and Valerie was very knowledgeable about all kinds of things.”

Each year, the City of Prince George presents the Civic Appreciation Awards that recognize individuals and organizations who have made a significant contribution to the community. Giles received the community service award of merit in 2018.

There is no memorial service scheduled for her at this time.