Books

Suzanne Simard wins Banff Mountain Book Competition's grand prize for memoir Finding the Mother Tree

The Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards annually recognize outstanding mountain literature from around the world.
Finding the Mother Tree is a memoir by Suzanne Simard. (Bill Heath, Allen Lane)

Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard is the grand prize winner of the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards.

The Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards annually recognize outstanding mountain literature from around the world in eight categories

The 2021 Phyllis and Don Munday Award, the $4,000 grand prize, is awarded to one of the eight category winners.

Simard originally won the mountain environment and natural history award. 

Finding the Mother Tree is a scientific memoir and Simard's first book. Having spent the last four decades understanding how trees communicate with each other, Simard brings us into the intimate world of the trees in the book. She explains how trees are a complex, interdependent circle of life, and how forests are social, communal creatures connected through underground networks. 

"I realized at that point that what I was discovering with these Western scientific tools had long been known for thousands of years by the First Nations of Canada and the north and in the U.S.," said Simard in an interview with Quirks & Quarks.

"I hope what my work can do is help society to look more closely at what the Aboriginal people of North America and throughout the world have long known and listen to their wisdom, because it's there already." 

LISTEN | Suzanne Simard discusses Finding the Mother Tree:

‘Finding the Mother Tree’ that protects her young saplings in pioneering researcher’s memoir

Simard is a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia.

"Simard has tied cutting-edge science, decades of hands-on research, and expert storytelling with a powerful personal story. It's an unbeatable combination that renders complex science approachable and beautiful," the Banff Mountain Book Competition Awards jury said in a statement.

Simard was one of two Canadians to win category awards at the 2021 prizes. Jessica J. Lee was the other Canadian to win: her memoir Two Trees Make a Forest won the adventure travel category.

Last year's grand prize winner was Raven's Witness: The Alaska Life of Richard K. Nelson by American author Hank Lentfer.

The 2021 Phyllis and Don Munday Award is sponsored by Alpine Club of Canada. 

The annual festival is hosted by Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, an organization showcasing the world's best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects.

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a partner of the CBC Literary Prizes.

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