Denton Memorial Book Prize

Vernon L. Denton

Vernon L. Denton (1881 - 1944)

The Denton Memorial Book Prize was established in memory of a man who dedicated his professional life to encouraging and supporting student teachers in their pursuit of the strength and balance inherent to a skillful teaching capacity.

Vernon Llewllyn Denton was born in Shediac, New Brunswick on April 25, 1881.  He graduated from Acadia University, in Nova Scotia, when he was twenty-two years old.  From Nova Scotia he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan where he taught until feeling the call of the ocean and moving to Vancouver in 1908.  After marrying in 1910, Dr. Denton became Inspector of Schools in 1912, a position he held for four years.  Shortly thereafter, in the summer of 1917, he was promoted to Provincial Normal School in Victoria as Instructor of History and Geography.  He then became principal in 1932, and remained so until his sudden death in May of 1944.  In 1938, Acadia University conferred upon Denton the honorary degree of ‘Doctor of Civil Law’. 

As teacher and principal at the Normal School, Dr. Denton was known not only for his contribution to education, but for the time and energy he gave freely to many projects that advantaged British Columbia students.  He advised and helped with many enterprises, and put a great deal of effort into ensuring a well-rounded program for prospective teachers.  It was this heartfelt belief in ensuring a comprehensive teacher training program that led his last group of students to pay tribute to his memory by establishing an award to recognize the best “all-around” student. 

This early award established by his students was known as the Denton Memorial Award, and consisted of an annual presentation of a collegiate ring to the student showing the most well rounded success in areas of teaching, academics, athletics, extra-curricular activities, and general leadership.  In 1965, the Normal School transferred the award to the University of Victoria.  At this time, it became the “Denton Memorial Book Prize” to be awarded to a student entering their final year of elementary education with demonstrated excellence in student teaching and good general proficiency.

Dr. Denton has been described as a colourful person whose enjoyment of sailing took him to many parts of the world, and gave him a rich and detailed knowledge of many places.  Such knowledge and experience led him to co-author the British Columbia edition of the public school textbook A New World Geography for Canadian Schools(Denton and Lord, 1960).  He also wrote The Far West Coast (1924), a history of maritime explorations along the Pacific Ocean.  The book includes stories about the explorations of Vius Bering, Captain James Cook, Lt. John Mears, and Captain George Vancouver.  Denton then went on to write Simon Frazer (1929), part of the Ryerson Canadian History Readers Series, which taught children history in an exciting narrative style. 

Today, there is Denton Point, a point of land at the North end of Wallace Bight and named in honor of V.L. Denton in 1948 for his written contribution to B.C.’s rich coastal history.  As a point of land remains stoic and strong in the midst of ocean currents, the contribution Dr. Denton has made through encouraging the hearts and minds of generations of student-teachers will surely continue to live on for just as long.

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