Latest Projects

In 1999 I wrote an entry on the topic of co-operatives for the Encyclopedia of BC. It was a difficult task. In one thousand words I was asked to encompass the history and development of food and housing co-ops, producer and workers' co-ops. Why me? Because I had been involved with almost every co-op in Vancouver during the 1970s. I was a founding member of CRS Workers' Co-op that successfully operated a cannery, a food wholesaler, a beekeeping operation and a bakery for many years—all of them worker self- managed. Two of those industries that I founded in my youthful past, Uprising Breads Bakery and Horizon Distributors, are still operating and successful today. The Co-op Revolution My latest non-fiction book is titled The Co-op Revolution, published by Caitlin Press. Mine is not a history tome destined for a reference library; it’s an account of an exciting time in my life and the lives of those involved in the so-called “new wave” of co-ops—a blend of memories, anecdotes and factual information. It’s truly a piece of BC history. Vancouver’s Activist Years The book covers the years 1975-1981—a time of great activism in Vancouver when any socially responsible project seemed possible: not just food co-ops but a co-op radio station, bookstore, restaurant, housing co-ops, and many other organizations that helped us take charge of our health, our music or our status as women.  My Journey The book begins with my arrival in Vancouver in 1975 and my first job as a member of CRS Workers’ Co-op, at the Tunnel Canary Cannery where we preserved fruit in honey. It was hot, labour intensive work, but the resulting fruit and jam was worth it. I continued to work with CRS in the early stages of a food wholesaler that would supply healthy, fair trade goods. By the time that the workers’ co-op signed its official incorporation papers in June 1976, the wholesaler was already purchasing and selling whole food products to BC’s pre-order food co-ops and health food stores. It continues today under the name Horizon Distributors. I also worked part-time at Uprising Breads Bakery that was founded in 1976 and is still a hub of social life and good eats at the corner of Venables and Commercial Drive. Other co-ops mentioned in the book include Queenright Beekeepers, Fed Up Co-op Wholesalers, East End Food Co- op, Agora Co-op, Vancouver Co-operative Radio and Isadora’s Co-op Restaurant. Our Goals We established our goals as a workers’ co-op and we worked toward those goals in the 1970s: ownership and control by the members, democratic decision-making and women and men working as equals. Other values were formed. Where do we buy our food? How can we support organic growers and small producers? What countries do we import from so as to support the people who grow or process the food? These same values resonate with consumers today. Details The Co-op Revolution, Caitlin Press, March 2019. (caitlin- press.com) Foreword by Rick Scott, musician. 195 pages, many black and white photos, $24.95 - Order now Check out my Facebook page, Jan DeGrass-author, for information about launches, readings and signings. 

Novel in Progress

The winter of 1941/1942 was a harsh one for the Soviet Union then at war with Germany. Nowhere was it worse than in the city of Leningrad, where Russians were surrounded by Nazi troops and suffered a barrage of artillery. Citizens lived in bombed buildings without heat, without light, without food, without accessible water or adequate plumbing. That winter they died by the thousands. That was the dismal picture until Lake Ladoga, at the city’s back door, froze over, allowing the new ice road and its brave truck drivers to carry provisions into the city along the so-called Road of Life. In my novel, 18-year-old Anna was evacuated by her father before the siege, but a sudden traffic accident takes his life and injures Anna and her sister. Anna recovers only to realize that she must return to the besieged city to find her mother.  It is lucky that on her journey she meets a young boy whose cheekiness and charm help her cope—and it is even luckier that she has previously shown a kindness to an ice road truck driver who will help her survive. When will the novel be finished?  Anybody’s guess…  
Jan DeGrass - Sunshine Coast - BC, Canada
© JanDeGrass.com  all rights reserved 2019 - website designed by Sun Coast Designs
©  2016 Photography by Ray McNally
Tunnel Canary Cannery, 1975

Tunnel Canary Cannery, 1975

The Russian author Gogol presides over a park in St. Petersburg

The Russian author Gogol presides

over a park in St. Petersburg

Jan DeGrass

Latest Projects

In 1999 I wrote an entry on the topic of co-operatives for the Encyclopedia of BC. It was a difficult task. In one thousand words I was asked to encompass the history and development of food and housing co-ops, producer and workers' co-ops. Why me? Because I had been involved with almost every co-op in Vancouver during the 1970s. I was a founding member of CRS Workers' Co-op that successfully operated a cannery, a food wholesaler, a beekeeping operation and a bakery for many years—all of them worker self- managed. Two of those industries that I founded in my youthful past, Uprising Breads Bakery and Horizon Distributors, are still operating and successful today. The Co-op Revolution My latest non-fiction book is titled The Co-op Revolution, published by Caitlin Press. Mine is not a history tome destined for a reference library; it’s an account of an exciting time in my life and the lives of those involved in the so-called “new wave” of co-ops—a blend of memories, anecdotes and factual information. It’s truly a piece of BC history. Vancouver’s Activist Years The book covers the years 1975-1981—a time of great activism in Vancouver when any socially responsible project seemed possible: not just food co-ops but a co-op radio station, bookstore, restaurant, housing co-ops, and many other organizations that helped us take charge of our health, our music or our status as women.  My Journey The book begins with my arrival in Vancouver in 1975 and my first job as a member of CRS Workers’ Co-op, at the Tunnel Canary Cannery where we preserved fruit in honey. It was hot, labour intensive work, but the resulting fruit and jam was worth it. I continued to work with CRS in the early stages of a food wholesaler that would supply healthy, fair trade goods. By the time that the workers’ co- op signed its official incorporation papers in June 1976, the wholesaler was already purchasing and selling whole food products to BC’s pre-order food co-ops and health food stores. It continues today under the name Horizon Distributors. I also worked part-time at Uprising Breads Bakery that was founded in 1976 and is still a hub of social life and good eats at the corner of Venables and Commercial Drive. Other co-ops mentioned in the book include Queenright Beekeepers, Fed Up Co-op Wholesalers, East End Food Co- op, Agora Co-op, Vancouver Co-operative Radio and Isadora’s Co-op Restaurant. Our Goals We established our goals as a workers’ co-op and we worked toward those goals in the 1970s: ownership and control by the members, democratic decision-making and women and men working as equals. Other values were formed. Where do we buy our food? How can we support organic growers and small producers? What countries do we import from so as to support the people who grow or process the food? These same values resonate with consumers today. Details The Co-op Revolution, Caitlin Press, March 2019. (caitlin- press.com) Foreword by Rick Scott, musician. 195 pages, many black and white photos, $24.95 - Order now Check out my Facebook page, Jan DeGrass-author, for information about launches, readings and signings. 

Novel in Progress

The winter of 1941/1942 was a harsh one for the Soviet Union then at war with Germany. Nowhere was it worse than in the city of Leningrad, where Russians were surrounded by Nazi troops and suffered a barrage of artillery. Citizens lived in bombed buildings without heat, without light, without food, without accessible water or adequate plumbing. That winter they died by the thousands. That was the dismal picture until Lake Ladoga, at the city’s back door, froze over, allowing the new ice road and its brave truck drivers to carry provisions into the city along the so-called Road of Life. In my novel, 18-year-old Anna was evacuated by her father before the siege, but a sudden traffic accident takes his life and injures Anna and her sister. Anna recovers only to realize that she must return to the besieged city to find her mother.  It is lucky that on her journey she meets a young boy whose cheekiness and charm help her cope—and it is even luckier that she has previously shown a kindness to an ice road truck driver who will help her survive. When will the novel be finished?  Anybody’s guess…  
Jan DeGrass Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada
© JanDeGrass.com - all rights reserved 2019 - website designed by Sun Coast Designs
Let a Hundred  Co-ops Bloom It’s truly a piece of BC history. The book covers the years 1975-1980—a time of great growth and social action in the Vancouver area. .
The Russian author Gogol presides over a park in St. Petersburg

The Russian author Gogol presides

over a park in St. Petersburg

The Co-Op Revolution by Jan Degrass
Jan DeGrass