Baird Bowering Collection

Consisting of over 250 items, the Baird Bowering Collection is made special by its particular provenance.

Overture to the Collection

As the collection is called “The Baird Bowering Collection,” rather than something like “The Baird/Bowering Collection,” I think that the introductory remarks should have more to say about Ms. Baird. It is true that she has the mixed fortune of being my wife, but she started collecting my books before we met, and has never stopped. In addition to those books, the collection includes a lot of objects such as posters, bookmarks, advertisements, drawings, etc., that you will not encounter in any other library collection. In addition to being my espoused, she is my manager, treasurer. secretary, girl Friday, instructor, sensei, etc. A lot of the honours that have come my way would not have done so except for her knowledge and energy. Because of her I appear to be a lot more intelligent than I am.

She once got us seats at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game that had been sold out for weeks. If it hadn’t been for her, I don’t think I would have had my portrait on a wine label

But while the work Ms. Baird does with me is a large part of my life, it is but a part of her life and activity. During her life she has found the time to get a PhD in literary bibliography and British/Irish literature, edit a national magazine, manage Canada Book Week, teach at Brock University, and organize the Purdy A-Frame writers’ retreat, among a number of other full-time jobs.

— George Bowering, 2023

About the Collection

George Bowering is “one of Canada’s most broadly influential writers,”1 and is the author of more than one hundred books including works of poetry and non-fiction, essay compilations, and novels. In addition to being the recipient of a multitude of literary awards, Bowering was appointed Canada’s inaugural Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2002-2004).

Born in Penticton, B.C., in 1935, Bowering spent his youth in the Okanagan; experiences in this landscape would influence his writing throughout his lengthy career. In 2015, Bowering published Writing the Okanagan – a collection that compiles selections relating to the Okanagan from more than 40 of his prior books, 1960-2013, into one powerful volume.

The Baird Bowering Collection is composed predominantly of Bowering’s published monographs and chapbooks, with notable inclusion of literary serials, such as Tish 1961-1963 and Imago 1964-1974 to which Bowering was any and all of contributor, editor, or publisher. All of these items were either gifted from Bowering to his partner, Jean Baird, over the course of many years, or collected by Baird through other channels, for several decades before the couple knew one another. The relationship between Baird and Bowering extends to one of shared creatorship through writing, manifest in their 2009 co-edited work The Heart Does Break 2 and the selection and editing of Writing the OkanaganBoth books were Jean’s ideas.

The Baird Bowering Collection is housed at Okanagan Special Collections and Archives, UBC Okanagan Library. A full bibliography of its contents is available upon request or in the library catalogue.

Learn more about George Bowering

Official website:

The Last Word: George Bowering. The University of British Columbia Magazine [interview]. 2012.

George Bowering in UBC Library’s Open Collections

George Bowering in UBC Okanagan Library’s BC Regional Digitized History portal.

Shared digital objects between UBC Okanagan Special Collections and the SoundBox Collection.

A Celebration of the Works of George Bowering

In the fall of 2022, Okanagan Special Collections and Archives hosted a co-curated exhibition honouring the works of George Bowering.

Exhibit pieces included selections from two sources. The Baird Bowering Collection, donated by Jean Baird to Okanagan Special Collections at UBCO Library in 2019, and Dr. Karis Shearer’s personal collection of audio cassettes, acquired from George Bowering, also in 2019.

Exhibition Programme
Descriptive Cards

In the news:

UBC Okanagan Benefits from Generous Literary Contribution [press release]. 2022.

A Celebration of the Baird Bowering Collection

In September 2022 the UBC Okanagan Library hosted an event to honour Jean Baird and George Bowering for their generous donation. Okanagan Special Collections in conjunction with the AMP Lab were privileged to host George Bowering, Jean Baird, and their invited guests for this event highlighting the significance of the donation and included readings by Bowering.

  • Left to right: Jean Baird, George Bowering, Robert Janke (Interim Chief Librarian, UBC Okanagan), Dr. Karis Shearer (Associate Professor of English, and Principal’s Research Chair in Digital Arts and Humanities), Dr. Greg Garrard (Professor of English), Paige Hohmann (Archivist, UBC Okanagan). In the Okanagan Special Collections Corbishley Family Reading Room.

  • Jean Baird and George Bowering.

  • George Bowering prepares to read “Valley.”

  • “Valley” by George Bowering.

  • George Bowering reads “Valley.”

  • Jean Baird and George Bowering

  • Commemorative wine barrel lid presented to George Bowering by the town of Oliver on the occasion of his appointment as Canada’s first Poet Laureate, 2003. Part of the Baird Bowering Collection.

  • The Baird Bowering Collection exhibition reception.

  • George Bowering

All photos courtesy of Margo Yacheshyn ©UBC Okanagan