Barbara Stewart is a member of The Writer’s Union of Canada and the Creative NonFiction Collective. In 2012, she was accepted into the University of British Columbia’s Optional Residency MFA Program, Creative Writing.
She is currently working on her second book.
Barbara Stewart was born in Vancouver and raised in Surrey, B.C. Her father was a kiln operator for Lafarge Cement and her mother taught piano at home. The eldest of three children, Barbara was an early reader and skipped grade 2 at Bridgeview Elementary. At William Beagle Jr. Secondary, she achieved the highest grade in Mr. Powell’s Grade 8 English class. This class awakened Barbara to the power of story and her passion to write. She remembers the day Mr. Powell tore a page out of a short-story textbook. He held up the page of words. “See this?” Then he pointed to the world outside. “This,” he said, “changes that.”
Although encouraged by teachers to attend university, Barbara decided to leave home after graduation and work for a bank. At 21, she married and by 26, had two children. In the early 80s, she sent an essay to the local newspaper and saw her name in print for the first time. Soon after, she sold her first fiction story to BC Woman Magazine. Encouraged, she joined the Comox Valley writer’s group and signed up for night classes. When her marriage ended in 1985, she completed her first year of university by correspondence as a single parent.
In 1991, Barbara moved her family to Victoria, B.C., with the intent of completing her degree as an English major. However, the responsibilities of single parenting delayed those plans. Instead, she became a nail girl. By 1995, Barbara had earned a diploma in photojournalism at the Western Academy of Photography and was subsequently published in the Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and National Geographic. While trying to establish her career as a photojournalist, she worked as a furniture salesperson, a hostess and a camp attendant at an oilrig in northern Alberta.
Barbara returned to Victoria in 2003 and decided to try one more course at the University of Victoria. She never looked back. In 2010, Barbara graduated from the university writing program with a Bachelor of Arts (With Distinction) and a book contract with Heritage House Publishers.