A History of John Houston has won the BC Historical Federation's 2012 website prize.

A History of John Houston has won the BC Historical Federation's 2012 website prize.

John Houston website nabs prize

A website devoted to Nelson’s founding mayor has won the BC Historical Federation’s 2012 website award.

A website devoted to Nelson’s founding mayor has won the BC Historical Federation’s 2012 website award.

Entitled A History of John Houston and found at johntruthhouston.com, the site looks at the life and legacy of the colourful and controversial newspaper publisher first elected to the city’s top office in 1897.

“It’s nice to be recognized for one’s contributions to the cultural and heritage community,” says Richard Rowberry, who is behind the site — and ran for mayor himself in Houston’s spirit. “Learning and teaching about the history of an area I live in is always one of my first passions.”

Rowberry and a team of summer students did the research for the site, which launched early last year with designer Evan Brynne’s help.

Selkirk College history instructor Duff Sutherland, who chairs the judges’ panel for the website competition, called it a “terrific site about an important figure.”

“The site is easy to use, includes accessible, interesting and reliable historical material and has some vivid and rarely seen photographs of the early history of Nelson and its people,” he said.

The site includes a timeline and illustrated sections about Houston’s papers, politics, and persona. Houston saw his own success and prosperity and that of working people closely tied to the development of the city and the province. However, his bombastic personality frequently got him in trouble and earned him many enemies.

Rowberry says he hopes to create more virtual exhibits. “I think it’s a great way to disseminate history,” he said.

It’s the second straight year a West Kootenay website has received the award. Last year Walter Volovsek’s Trails in Time, which deals with historic trails around Castlegar, was honoured.

In 2000, a site devoted to the 54th Kootenay Battalion of World War I, created by Floyd Low and Nelson’s Patricia Rogers, received the award.