James H. Gray, now deceased, was a well-known chronicler of Western Canadian history and author of such popular and accessible books as Red Lights on the Prairies, The Boy from Winnipeg and Booze.
His career began in 1922 with the Winnipeg Grain Exchange as an office boy at the age of sixteen. Eight years later he had risen to manager of a stockbroker's office in Lethbridge, Alberta, but joined the ranks of the unemployed when the market crashed. He was on relief until he found work again in 1935.
It was during that in-between-jobs time that he began to write. He started as a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.