Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia

Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia

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Private Grief, Public Mourning is an historical investigation of mourning sites and practices within the context of the province of British Columbia. The authors are concerned, primarily, with the rise of the roadside death memorial in the late twentieth century. They argue that RDMs are not a marginal, quirky phenomenon but part of a longer and complex story about the meaning of both death and grieving, one more thread in a long tapestry of public exhibitions of grief that serve to announce to the watching world who we are.


  • Publication: Spring 2009
  • ISBN: 9781895636994
  • Pages: 160 pp
  • Size: 7 x 8 | Hardcover | Colour inches

Diane Purvey is the Dean of Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She is the co-editor of Child and Family Welfare in British Columbia: A History (Detselig Press). She is, with John Belshaw, the co-author of both Private Grief, Public Mourning: The Rise of the Roadside Shrine in British Columbia and Vancouver Noir: 1930-1960. She is a contributor to Vancouver Confidential and is a homegrown Vancouverite.

John Belshaw is a writer, professor, consultant, and an award-winning historian. He is the author of several books, including Becoming British Columbia: A Population History, and articles in subTerrain and The Walrus. His current projects include an OpenText on Canadian history and Vancouver Confidential, a collaborative project involving more than a dozen writers, filmmakers, and artists. He is a second-generation Vancouverite.

Books by John Belshaw & Diane Purvey