Douglas Hunter:

A brief biography


At a glance

•Author or coauthor of more than 18 books and innumerable magazine articles.

•Historical researcher 

•Contract researcher/writer and “book doctor” for making books happen with clients and publishers.

•PhD (history), York University, 2015

•Postdoctoral fellow, University of Waterloo, 2015–17.

•Winner of CAGS Distinguished Dissertation Award (humanities, social sciences, fine arts), 2016.

•Winner of National Business Book Award, 2003.

•Finalist for National Business Book Award, 2013.

•Finalist for Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, 2007.

•Finalist for Governor-General’s Literary Award (Non-Fiction), 2008.

•Graduate, Canadian Securities Course, 1987.

I am represented by Hilary McMahon at WCA in Toronto. Contact her by email here

To contact me, send an email here

I’ve written widely on history, business, the environment, and sport, as a writer and author and as a contracted researcher and ghost writer. I’ve also worked with museums as a consultant on exhibitions. After a 30-year absence I returned to higher education in 2010 as a doctoral candidate in history at Canada’s York University. In 2012 I received a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from the federal government in support of my doctoral research, and was awarded the William E. Taylor Fellowship as the outstanding doctoral award recipient by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In April 2015 I was awarded my PhD after successfully defending my dissertation “Stone of Power: Dighton Rock, Colonization, and the Erasure of an Indigenous Past.” I was awarded a Dissertation Prize by York University, and in 2016 I received the Distinguished Dissertation Award for Humanities, Social Sciences and Fine Arts from the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies. I held a two-year postdoctoral fellowship under Dr. Susan Roy at the University of Waterloo from spring 2015 to spring 2017.

In October 2017 the University of North Carolina Press will publish The Place of Stone, a book that builds on the research in my doctoral dissertation.

I have just completed the manuscript for a book about the Beardmore Viking relics hoax at the Royal Ontario Museum for McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Business has figured significantly in many works (I had a stint as a staff writer at the Financial Post, during which I completed my Canadian Securities Course in 1987). Open Ice (Penguin Canada, 1994) was both a biography of hockey star Tim Horton and a detailed study of the founding of the restaurant phenomenon that has long outlived him.
Eighteen years later, in 2012, I published a book dedicated to the restaurant chain story, Double Double with Harper Collins Canada. It was a finalist for the National Business Book Award in 2013. The Glory Barons (Penguin Canada, 1999) an unauthorized history of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, was a proxy study of the travails of small-market franchises and the NHL’s expansionist urges in the American southwest. Molson (Penguin Canada, 2001) examined the founding of the eponymous brewery empire by John Molson, a teenage immigrant from Lincolnshire to Montreal in 1782. The Bubble and the Bear (Doubleday Canada, 2002), which dissected the tech-stock bubble through the rise and fall of Nortel, won Canada’s National Business Book Award. The commercial imperatives (and chicanery) of the age of exploration are important elements of both God’s Mercies and Half Moon.
God’s Mercies (Doubleday Canada, 2007) revealed the traumatic intersection of the careers of Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain and was a finalist for both the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and the Governor-General’s Literary Award.
Half Moon (Bloomsbury Press, 2009) tells the story of Henry Hudson’s 1609 voyage and the discovery of the Hudson RIver.

History for me falls into the broad basket of whatever has happened, be it two days or two centuries ago, and I have  explored it through every means available: travel, archival research and interviews with living witnesses. Book subjects have taken me to the 16th and 17th centuries (God’s Mercies and Half Moon), the 18th and early 19th centuries, the American Revolution and the Napoleonic wars (Molson), the First and Second World Wars (War Games) and many points between.

Sailing has been a lifelong passion. My first two books, Against the Odds (Personal Library Press, 1981), and Trials (Macmillan of Canada, 1984), with coauthor Jeff Boyd, were about yacht racing. I also provided the text for photographer Sharon Green’s Ultimate Sailing (Stoddart, 1998), and I was  coauthor (with Steve Killing) of Yacht Design Explained (W.W. Norton, 1998). Scratch the surface of many of my other books and you’ll find a boat or two.
John Molson was a global pioneer in commercial steamboats and first crossed the Atlantic in a 50-gun Royal Navy warship. Much of the narrative in God’s Mercies and Half Moon takes place on vessels of some kind, ranging from canoes to shallops to pinnaces to a Dutch jaght.

As a self-confessed “puck head” I have written a half-dozen books on hockey, and have been particularly interested in the social history of the game, particularly in how players’ rights evolved over the history of the professional game. My interest in the intersection of the sport with culture may have been best expressed in War Games (Penguin Canada, 1996), which explored the convergence of hockey, politics and combat in Canada during the conscription crisis of the Second World War.

While I have yet to write a book on the subject, the environment has provided a steady stream of subject matter for my magazine writing, and this interest has informed the content of a number of my books. The natural history of the Hudson RIver is so important to Half Moon that the river almost qualifies as a character in its own right.

I’ve also enjoyed a lengthy career as an illustrator and graphic designer. (My initial formal education concluded with a B.A. from McMaster University, where I was enrolled in the studio art program, which included obligatory studies in art history.) In addition to designing as well as illustrating three of my own books for mainstream publishers Penguin Canada and W.W. Norton, I was the designer of artist Allen Smutylo’s Wild Places Wild Hearts, named the Best Adventure/Travel Book (2007) at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.  For my book, Half Moon, I executed more than a dozen maps and other illustrations. The Race to the New World includes a two-page locator map. I provided a great whack of illustrations for Ghost Mountains and Vanished Oceans, by John Wilson and Ron Clowes (Key Porter Books, 2009). Two recent titles from Bloomsbury Press in New York (Ted McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama and Doug Merlino’s The Hustle) featured my full-page maps. And I have contributed a map to the forthcoming Lunch-Bucket Lives by Craig Heron (Between the Lines, June 2015) and two maps to A Guest at the Shooters’ Banquet by Rita Gabis (Bloomsbury USA, Sept. 2015).

The Race to the New World reveals the relationship and rivalry between Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, and the lost history of the New World’s discovery. Palgrave Macmillan  published it in the US/World English-language market in September 2011, while Douglas & McIntyre brought out the Canadian edition in Spring 2012.


Palgrave Macmillan edition

Douglas & McIntyre edition

Kelly Moss

Map for Doug Merlino’s The Hustle (Bloomsbury Press, 2010). See Illustrations for more examples of my work.