Saeko Usukawa

Region: Vancouver British Columbia
Generation: Nisei
Born 1946, Lemon Creek British Columbia
Died 2009


Saeko Usukawa was an editor for everything from alternative-culture magazines to major publishing house Douglas & McIntyre. Born in Lemon Creek internment camp, Saeko grew up in Toronto. After studying briefly at university, she quickly became the youngest editor at Macmillan Publishers. She also became involved in the women’s movement and protests against Apartheid and the Vietnam War. She came out as a lesbian in the 1970s and moved to Vancouver, where she joined the all-woman publishing and design collective the Pacific Women’s Graphic Arts Cooperative, a group that went on to publish Makara magazine.

She worked for Douglas & McIntyre for almost thirty years, eventually serving as editorial director. In this role, she mentored many young writers and editors, and worked with such authors as Wayson Choy, Douglas Coupland, and SKY Lee. Usukawa also created two books with her partner, Peggy Thompson, in the mid-1990s: Hardboiled: Great Lines from Classic Noir Films and Tall in the Saddle: Great Lines from Classic Westerns. And she also compiled The Little Lavender Book of the Love that Once Dared Not Speak Its Name for Arsenal Pulp Press. Usukawa received the 2007 Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence for her work on Abstract Painting in Canada by Roald Nasgaard.