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Award-winning book documents B.C. Regiment

Keith Maxwell of West Sechelt and three co-authors of the military history Swift & Strong were second place winners at the B.C. Lieutenant Governor's Awards for historical writing.

Keith Maxwell of West Sechelt and three co-authors of the military history Swift & Strong were second place winners at the B.C. Lieutenant Governor's Awards for historical writing.

Swift & Strong: A Pictorial History of the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) was judged by BC Historical Federation jurors to be a "most significant contribution to the historical literature of British Columbia."

Maxwell shares the honours with authors Ron Leblanc, Dwayne Snow and Kelly Deschênes.

The hard cover, richly illustrated book offers more than 600 photos and a significant narrative of the history of the "Dukes" since their beginnings in the 1880s. Many of the stories are personal and poignant, drawn from diaries, letters to loved ones and memoirs.

"That was our impetus," said Maxwell, "to tell the stories of individual soldiers."

The book follows the regiment through early British wars and reproduces the moving letters of young wounded Canadians languishing in a South African hospital during the Boer War. The soldiers' first-hand accounts throughout the book are told in simple language, often written just days before their deaths.

Sometimes the regiment was commanded to control labour unrest and race riots in B.C. during the 1920s and '30s. The Dukes marching off to war down a New Westminster street gave rise to a famous war photo, Wait for Me, Daddy, in which a soldier reaches out to say goodbye to his young son.

The regiment also fought in the First and Second World Wars at many game-changing battles, such as Vimy, Ypres and later, during the campaign in North West Europe. Their path is tracked through to present day peacekeeping work in such posts as Bosnia and Kandahar.

Col. (retired) Keith Maxwell joined the regiment when he was just 16, part time, while still in high school. He later earned a degree in history, and his 40-year military career took him into the Royal Canadian Air Force. Prior to 2009 he was with the NATO International Staff in Belgium, before retiring to Sechelt. He began work on the winning book shortly after - a long, voluntary process involving much research.

Maxwell is also on the program committee for Capilano University's Eldercollege program, where he enjoys designing and delivering history lectures. He has also offered courses that discuss international conflict and Canada's role.

Sponsored by the BC Historical Federation, the awards were presided over by Lieut.-Gov. Steven Point at a gala banquet during the Federation's 90th annual meeting May 5 in Campbell River. The late Chuck Davis won first place for his book, The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, a volume that has also taken awards at the BC Book Prizes.

Swift & Strong is available for $50 at Talewind Books in Sechelt. All proceeds from sales go to the BC Regiment Museum Society's charitable trust, which provides scholarships and social services for young veterans and serving soldiers.

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