Briony Penn

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Briony Penn (born October 16, 1960, Saanich, British Columbia) is a Canadian author and environmental activist[1] who received international attention when she protested logging on Salt Spring Island by riding horseback through downtown Vancouver while nearly nude and dressed as Lady Godiva.[2][3] She won the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize[4] and was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize in 2016 for her book The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan (Rocky Mountain Books).[5]

Early life and career[edit]

A fifth-generation islander, Penn was born and raised in Saanich, British Columbia. She graduated from the international baccalaureate program in Victoria (Norfolk House) in 1977. In 1981, she received her BA in Geography/Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. She then studied in Scotland, and in 1988 received her Ph.D in geography from the University of Edinburgh.[6]

Penn is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at the University of Victoria and has lectured in the School of Environmental Studies and Restoration of Natural Systems Program since 1991.[7] She was the Liberal Party of Canada's candidate for Saanich—Gulf Islands in the 40th Canadian federal election, Penn was narrowly defeated by Conservative incumbent Gary Lunn, then decided to leave politics.


She wrote the book The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan, which won the 2016 Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize[4] and was shortlisted for the 2016 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize.[8]

Environmental work[edit]

Penn co-founded The Land Conservancy of British Columbia in 1997 and serves on the board.[7] In January 2001, Penn received international attention for her nearly-nude horseback ride as Lady Godiva to protest against logging on Saltspring Island.[2][9][10][3]

Political career[edit]

After supporting the Green Party for more than a decade, Penn announced in March 2007 her intention to run as a Liberal candidate for Saanich—Gulf Islands in the 2008 federal election.[11] She was defeated in a close race (43 to 39 percent) by the incumbent Conservative Gary Lunn, who was the Minister of Natural Resources. She has stated she has retired from politics.[1]

Electoral record[edit]

2008 Canadian federal election: Saanich—Gulf Islands
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative Gary Lunn 27,988 43.43 +6.28
Liberal Briony Penn 25,367 39.36 +13.28
Green Andrew Lewis 6,732 10.45 +0.51
New Democratic Julian West 3,667 5.69 −20.85
Libertarian Dale P. Leier 246 0.38
Western Block Patricia O'Brien 195 0.3 +0.03
Canadian Action Jeremy Arney 139 0.2
Christian Heritage Dan Moreau 114 0.2
Total valid votes 64,448 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 179 0.27
Turnout 64,639 70.40
Conservative hold Swing −3.50
Julian West was selected as the New Democratic Party candidate for the 2008 election, but withdrew after the filing deadline following a scandal.[12] Due to the late withdrawal his name remained on the ballot.


Penn currently lives on Salt Spring Island, in a large heritage home brought from Victoria. She has raised two sons, Ronan and Callum, with her husband Donald.


  1. ^ a b MacLeod, Andrew (2009-05-21). "Penn quits politics saying system favours the rich | The Hook, A Tyee blog". The Tyee. Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  2. ^ a b Weiss, Star (2008). Havens in a Hectic World: Finding Sacred Places. TouchWood Editions. p. 87. ISBN 9781894898690.
  3. ^ a b "Noted Green activist goes red". Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  4. ^ a b "BC Book Prizes 2016 Winners Announced | Vancouver Observer". Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  5. ^ "The Last Thing – by Briony Penn, Book Launch | Cortes Museum & Archives Society". Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b The Land Conservancy of British Columbia, Board of Directors. URL accessed February 10, 2018.
  8. ^ "Finalists announced for 2016 BC Book Prizes". Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  9. ^ "Logging protester bares all". Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  10. ^ Clark, ,David. "B.C. forest protests over the years". Retrieved 2018-02-11.
  11. ^ Tafler, Sid (March 15, 2017). "Noted Green activist goes red". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  12. ^ McCulloch, Sandra (2008-09-24). "NDP candidate who quit over nudity will not be replaced". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2017-09-20.

External links[edit]