This is the fourth website I’ve built to honour remarkable people who have galvanized my attention. The three predecessors are Leonard Cohen, Holocaust hero Rudolf Vrba and a Tanzanian community builder named Father Placid Kindata. All four non-commercial sites have been co-constructed with independent website designer, Sharon Jackson, who served as a city councillor for 22 consecutive years in her hometown of Duncan, British Columbia. I am a journalist in Vancouver. My first book in the 1980s, For Openers, offered interviews with some of Canada’s foremost authors including Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Jane Rule and Leonard Cohen, etc. I proceeded to make an omnibus reader for a little-known Quaker novelist and WW I veteran, Hubert Evans, then produced a half-hour CBC film about the West Coast entrepreneur and inventor Jim Spilsbury, followed by a series of half-hour documentaries for CBC and Knowledge Network about the anarchist George Woodcock, the logger-poet Peter Trower, the poverty rights activist Bud Osborn, the venerable humourist Eric Nicol and the Indigenous rights advocate Jeannette Armstrong. Recently, I spent four years gathering information for a conventional biography about epilepsy treatment pioneer Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall, the last living physician to have worked alongside Dr. Albert Schweitzer–the title of which,  Moon Madness, refers to epilepsy in Tanzania. I’ve since made websites to honour friends Leonard Cohen and Placid Kindata. In 2022, most significantly, rather than write another book, I decided instead to construct a 1,000,000-word website about Auschwitz escapee Rudolf Vrba, arguably the greatest whistleblower of the 20th century.

Hubert Evans, Jeannette Armstrong and George Woodcock

For paying tribute to Yosef Wosk, my first impulse was to generate a conventional biography—until I realized it would take far too long to do it and it would be doomed to failure. The breadth of Wosk’s knowledge–as well as the range of his travels, the audacity of his art collection and the scope of his creative philanthropy–is beyond belief. The solution is a wide-ranging website with a curriculum vitae. I think of it as a public garden. One enters through the main gate but afterwards any wandering route can suffice. You can’t appreciate all the varieties of flora in one visit; anyone is free to return as many times as they like. It’s more circular than linear. Each time, there are new sections of the garden to explore. Or it can be likened to an old-fashioned maze: one can happily get lost in it. I first gained access to biographical material when I joined forces with Michael Audain and John McAvity to nominate Yosef Wosk for the Order of Canada—whereupon he was deemed worthy of induction to the Order as an Officer of the Order, rather than as a Member. This application proved successful partly because I was granted access to a remarkable cache of documents by Wosk’s private secretary, Margaret Brown. That nomination was rendered entirely without Yosef Wosk’s knowledge (none of us wanted him to know the outcome if our application was rejected.) By that time I realized I knew more about Yosef Wosk than anyone else, and I was obliged to DO SOMETHING. The more I learn about him, the more my appreciation for this compassionate (and often funny) post-Renaissance polymath continues to grow.

Welcome to his garden.

– Alan Twigg, 2023

Celebrating The Order of Canada with Yosef (Click)

Celebrating The Order of Canada with Yosef Wosk







Here follows a digest of documentaries for CBC and Knowledge Network that were inspired by other British Columbians.

George Woodcock: The Anarchist of Cherry Street

Eric Nicol: Look Back in Humour

Chuck Davis’ Last Stand

Peter Trower: Men There Were Then

Jeannette Armstrong: Knowledge keeper of the Okanagan

Jim Spilsbury: Spilsbury’s Coast

Remembering Bud Osborn