Butts, Ed 1951- (Edward P. Butts)

views updated

Butts, Ed 1951- (Edward P. Butts)


Born September 16, 1951, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; son of Edward J. (a businessman) and Patricia M. (a businesswoman) Butts; children: Melanie Lynne. Education: University of Waterloo, B.A. (with honors), 1981.


Home—Guelph, Ontario, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].


Author, editor, and researcher. Researcher for Ontario Educational Communication Authority (TV Ontario), c. 1980; substitute teacher in Ontario, Canada; Learning Center of Sosua, Dominican Republic, teacher of English and social studies, 1994-2002.


Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice listee for She Dared.



Buffalo: A Fable of the West (fiction), Colombo (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998.

Idioms for Aliens: A Grammar Revue of Plays and Verse, illustrated by Michael Tonn, Maupin House (Gainesville, FL), 2004.

She Dared: True Stories of Heroines, Scoundrels, and Renegades (nonfiction), illustrated by Heather Collins, Tundra Books (Plattsburgh, NY), 2005.

SOS: Stories of Survival (nonfiction), Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.

Canadian Treasure Tales (nonfiction), Tundra Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2008.


(With Harold Horwood) Pirates and Outlaws of Canada, 1610-1932, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1984, 2nd edition, Lynx Images (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

(With Harold Horwood) Bandits and Privateers: Canada in the Age of Gunpowder, Doubleday Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987.

Outlaws of the Lakes: Bootlegging and Smuggling from Colonial Times to Prohibition, Lynx Images (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Guiding Lights, Tragic Shadows: Tales of Great Lakes Lighthouses, Lynx Images (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

True Canadian Disaster Stories, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.

The Desperate Ones: Forgotten Canadian Outlaws, Dundurn Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

True Unsolved Canadian Mysteries (nonfiction), Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.

The Desperate Ones II: More Stories of Forgotten Canadian Outlaws, Dundurn Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2008.

Author of educational materials. Contributor of short fiction to New Quarterly, and of articles to Reader's Digest, Touring, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Horizon Canada, Old West, Legion, Sailing Canada, Education Forum, and Premiere. Columnist for La Costa (monthly magazine). Contributor to Canadian Encyclopedia. Editor for documentary film Vanished in the Mist: Lost Newfoundland, produced by Lynx Images.


Ed Butts has channeled his longtime interest in Canadian history into books for both children and adults, many of them focusing on interesting men and women who would otherwise have fallen through the cracks in the historical record. His books include The Desperate Ones: Forgotten Canadian Outlaws and Bandits and Privateers: Canada in the Age of Gunpowder, the latter one of two books Butts has written with Harold Horwood. Turning his focus to younger readers, Butts collects true stories about young people confronting disasters of all sorts in SOS: Stories of Survival, and introduces an interesting pantheon of Canadian women in She Dared: True Stories of Heroines, Scoundrels, and Renegades. Idioms for Aliens: A Grammar Revue of Plays and Verse, which includes twenty-five short plays designed to help introduce the quirks and inconsistencies of English grammar, was inspired by Butts's work teaching his native language at a school in the Dominican Republic. In Professionally Speaking online, a reviewer praised the book for "bring[ing] humour to typically mundane grammar lessons" to students across a broad age range, from youngsters to adults.

Butts began his writing career in the early 1980s, after graduating with honors from the University of Waterloo. In the years since, he has alternated writing and researching history-related projects with teaching and journalism. Honored by the Canadian Children's Centre and one of several books to make its way over the border to U.S. readers, She Dared was Butts's way to help balance the male-centered historical record. The book includes profiles of fifteen Canadian women who helped expand the opportunities of future generations by breaking with traditions of all sorts. In addition to Molly Brant—a native Iroquois well known for her alliance with the British during the American Revolution and as an early resident of Kingston, Ontario—Butts introduces readers to Sarah Emma Edmonds, who disguised herself as a man in order to join the Union Army; Dr. James Miranda Barry, who was actually a woman in disguise; stagecoach robber Pearl Hart; and groundbreaking journalist Mary Ann Shadd. In the Canadian Review of Materials Online, Grace Sheppard praised Butts's prose as "crisp," adding that the author "has clearly done a lot of research to support these stories, and he manages to find a good balance between the necessary details and the more naturally exciting parts of each story." "Written in an engaging, conversational style, the entries are well organized and informative," noted Linda Perkins in her Booklist review of She Dared, while in School Library Journal Robyn Walker concluded that the book "provides an objective view of many facets of the Canadian past" that readers should find both "interesting" and "informative."

Butts told CA: "I suppose my writing career began when, as a boy, I wrote little stories for the simple reason that I loved to hear and tell stories.

"I hope to entertain people and to tweak their interest in history, English, or whatever I write on.

"I do some writing in the morning. In the middle of the day I go to the library to do some research. I write again in the afternoon. I often write at night.

"My purpose in writing She Dared was twofold. I wanted to tell young people a few of the many fascinating stories from Canadian history. I also wanted the stories to be about women because they have frequently been overlooked in history books.

"I think my work has been influenced, to varying degrees, by almost every author I've read: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Jack London, Louis L'Amour, Colleen McCullough, and the great Canadian historian Pierre Berton, to name just a few. Of my contemporaries who write for young people, I am particularly fond of the works of fellow Canadians Robert Munsch and Dennis Lee.

"My advice to aspiring young writers is to be curious about everything and read all you can. Learn good grammar, because that is the foundation that enables you to make words weave magic. It's important, and not really as difficult as you might think."



Booklist, December 1, 2005, Linda Perkins, review of She Dared: True Stories of Heroines, Scoundrels, and Renegades, p. 34.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 2005, Marie St. Onge-Davidson, review of She Dared, p. 539.

Canadian Historical Review, December, 1985, R.C. MacLeod, review of Pirates and Outlaws of Canada, 1610-1932, p. 597.

Resource Links, June, 2005, Victoria Pennell, review of She Dared, p. 36.

School Library Journal, December, 2005, Robyn Walker, review of She Dared, p. 162.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, review of She Dared, p. 159.


Canadian Review of Materials Online,http://www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/ (September 30, 2005), Grace Sheppard, review of She Dared.

Professionally Speaking Web site,http://www.oct.ca/publications/professionally_speaking/ (June 1, 2005), review of Idioms for Aliens: A Grammar Revue of Plays and Verse.