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Former city councillor celebrates launch of debut book

The City of Rainbows: A Colourful History of Prince Rupert by Blair Mirau is selling well locally
Prince Rupert author Blair Mirau signs a copy of The City of Rainbows: A Colourful History of Prince Rupert during a book launch event at the Prince Rupert Public Library June 1. (Janet Mirau photo)

Former city councillor and third-generation Prince Rupertite celebrated his debut book The City of Rainbows: A Colourful History of Prince Rupert with a launch event at the Prince Rupert Library on June 1.

“Blair Mirau has set out to capture the rises and falls of Prince Rupert,” said Carolina de Ryk, host of CBC Daybreak North, who introduced the author to a crowd of more than 50 people.

Born and raised in Prince Rupert, Mirau served on city council for two terms from 2014–2022. In 2019, he started writing a seven-page pamphlet to convince then-mayor Lee Brain that the city should resurrect the “City of Rainbows” slogan during a rebranding effort he was leading in 2019.

“This process snowballed into an investigation of just how far back the symbolism went in Prince Rupert’s history,” said Mirau. “With lots of unexpected extra time for research in 2020 and 2021, I eventually realized that a book was going to be the only way I could meaningfully tell the complex story of my hometown.

“I was trying to answer why the rainbow metaphor works so well for Prince Rupert.”

Of course, the fact Prince Rupert is the rainiest city in Canada is a factor, but beyond that, the rainbow has evolved into a symbol for inclusivity and diversity, Mirau explained.

“Prince Rupert is a really unique microcosm of multicultural diversity that is a positive reflection of the Canadian example,” he said.

Mirau wanted to ensure the story of Prince Rupert was told from a modern perspective. Nearly every previous history of the city started with the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railway in the early 1900s and focused on European perspectives.

“While the old cliched pioneering narrative of Prince Rupert has been told countless times, it glosses over some seriously problematic developments that still shape Prince Rupert today,” he said. He added many accounts also ignore events that were crucially important prior to the official founding of Prince Rupert, such as the industrial salmon canning industry at Port Essington, the arrival of missionaries to Metlakatla, and the earliest European explorers and fur traders at Fort Simpson.

“My goal with The City of Rainbows was to confront this historical legacy of colonization while also celebrating the creation of the diverse cultural tapestry that defines the modern community of Prince Rupert,” he explained.

His research gave him a totally different understanding of the city and region.

“By weaving together historical events illustrated by compelling archival photographs, The City of Rainbows balances the histories of the original Ts’mysen inhabitants, European and Asian settlers, and recent immigrants to the region,” a press release stated.

While the library event represented the official launch of The City of Rainbows: A Colourful History of Prince Rupert, the book has been available in Prince Rupert since the end of April.

At Eddie’s News, the book is selling extremely well with the shop already on its second order. It is also available in town at the Seahorse Trading Company, SeaSport Outboard Marina, and the Museum of Northern BC gift shop.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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