History of the CVWS

A Short History of the Comox Valley Writers Society

The Comox Valley Writers Club (CVWC) began in 1964. It was closely aligned with the Comox Valley Arts Council (CVAC) which began in 1965. Doris Tonkin, the CVWC Chairperson was also on the Board of CVAC.

In the early years, membership in the group was just 12 to 15 people, and they wrote largely for newspapers and magazines. The Comox District Free Press and Islander Magazine printed many of their stories of local history and events.

The group flourished in the 1980s. In 1985 they registered as a non-profit society – the Comox Valley Writers Group (CVWG). This decade featured annual National Book Week Festival events which brought community attention to writers and books across the country. Many well-known authors came to the valley to give readings, visit schools and participate in community events. In 1989 CVWG celebrated 25 years with the publication of Clam Diggers, an anthology of local writing.

In 1993 there was a second anthology, Sunrise. By the middle of the decade the National Book Weeks were history. Membership grew to a new high of 45 members. Toward the end of this decade two major North Island conferences were hosted and well-attended. A shift was taking place from Journalism to Fiction writing.

However, at the turn of the new millennium attendance and membership dropped; the CVWG barely existed. There were new options emerging in the community. It wasn’t until 2005 that regular monthly meetings resumed and then, the group re-registered as the Comox Valley Writers Society (CVWS).

In 2010 there was a commitment to a visible community presence and outreach. In 2015 the society produced Writers & Books: Comox Valley 1865-2015, as a contribution to the City of Courtenay Centennial celebrations. Fresh activity such as workshops, poetry contests in schools and public readings at the library were followed by a new annual North Island Writers Conference. Membership ballooned to just over 100 by the end of 2020. The society is now mature in age, as are most of its members. Memoir has become a genre of much interest, and more members are writing poetry.

Presently we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have learned to do things differently. Board, general and small group meetings are now delivered online via Zoom. Our membership has stabilized at about 80. There is great productivity in the group. Last year there were 9 books produced by CVWS members. Testament enough to this enduring association of local writers.

There is a great interest in writing in the Comox Valley, and the CVWS can support a senior wanting to complete a personal memoir or family history, as well as an aspiring writer who is serious about learning the craft. There is enough collective experience within our membership to serve the needs of the our writing community.