Discover: Authors explore the unknown places in BC

Oh, beautiful BC. There is much more to our stunning province than the Lower Mainland, but some people never manage to travel outside of Vancouver. Fortunately, we can travel vicariously through books.

This year, four authors have written about some of the hidden gems, the rare sights, the paths less travelled on in BC. Their refreshing perspectives are making the unknown known and could get even the biggest homebody to try a new adventure.

Here are some of the amazing places that these authors have written about in their latest releases.

1. Vancouver Island

(including Victoria, Pachena Point, Ahousaht, Mount Tzouhalem and much more)

Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of Canada, and it is known worldwide for its arresting natural beauty. In The Haunting of Vancouver Island: Supernatural Encounters with the Other Side (TouchWood Editions), researcher Shanon Sinn investigated 25 tales from the very top of the island to the bottom, exploring historical cities, deep forests, and isolated logging roads.

In addition to visiting castles, inns, and cemeteries, Sinn followed the trail of spirits glimpsed on mountaintops, beaches, and water, and visited Heriot Bay Inn on Quadra Island and the Schooner Restaurant in Tofino to personally scrutinize reports of hauntings. It also features First Nations stories from each of the three Indigenous groups who call Vancouver Island home—the Coast Salish, the Nuu-chah-nulth, and the Kwakwaka’wakw.

 2. Maurelle Island

Maurelle Island is a part of the Discovery Islands, east of Quadra Island and located between the Strait of Georgia and Johnstone Strait. Rob Wood left his corporate life in Alberta in search of a place where he could reconnect with nature, which brought him to the remote reaches of Canada’s West Coast.

Settling on Maurelle Island, he and his wife built an off-the-grid homestead and focussed on alternative communities and developing a small house-design practice specializing in organic and wholesome building techniques. Rob Wood’s At Home in Nature: A Life of Unknown Mountains and Deep Wilderness (Rocky Mountain Books) is an intriguing story of one family’s life among the rugged landscapes of British Columbia’s Coast Mountains on Maurelle Island, converting youthful ideals, raw land, and a passion for the outdoors into a practical off-grid homestead.

3. Yalakom Valley

The Yalakom Valley, located near Lillooet, and deep in BC’s Coast Mountains is a place of extreme beauty and isolation.

In the 1980s, Judith Plant lived in a hippie commune in this area. Her memoir, Culture Gap: Towards a New World in the Yalakom Valley (New Star Books) tells the story of her time there and of the challenges and privations, the joys and adventures of rural communal living.

4. Fernie

Fernie, a small community located in BC’s Kootenay region, is fully encircled by the Rocky Mountains. Nowadays, it is a perfect city for skiing, biking, hiking; but it is also a city with a long history. Wayne Norton’s Fernie at War: 1914-1919 (Caitlin Press) shows how just five pivotal years shaped and changed Fernie, a city instrumental to the national identity of Canada. 

As a resource-based economy with unusually large and varied immigrant populations, and exceptionally high recruitment levels, Fernie was profoundly affected by conflicting impulses of labour, loyalty and ethnicity. Demands for internment of enemy aliens, resistance to prohibition and moral reform, the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, the unprecedented banning of recruitment, and the western labour revolt were all issues that contributed to a war-time experience for Fernie that was more dramatic and more revealing of underlying tensions than that of any other Canadian community.

Fernie at War by Wayne Norton explores what it meant to live in Fernie during those confusing and divisive years. The city has changed over the years, but its history has informed how it is now.

These four authors—Shanon Sinn, Rob Wood, Judith Plant, and Wayne Norton—will be reading in Nanaimo on November 16, at 6 pm, for our Unknown to Known: Discovery in BC event. Attendees can hear more about these fantastic books and the authors on Thursday, November 16.

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