Reading real books is still an enjoyable, entertaining and educational pastime that does not require batteries or squinting at tiny screens.
Luckily we still have good B.C and Canadian publishers putting out excellent material. Here are some to be enjoyed or to give as gifts (before or after you read them).
British Columbia - A New Historical Atlas, by Derek Hayes (Douglas & McIntyre): The new soft-cover edition of this beautiful book will be treasured by history and cartography buffs. Stories of the map-makers, their travels, the gradual settlement of Canada, and the political consequences of far-away governments drawing boundaries all make for fascinating reading. Illustrated with historical maps, documents and early lithographs and photography.
British Columbia – A Natural History of Its Origins, Ecology and Diversity with a New Look at Climate Change (revised and updated), by Richard and Sydney Cannings (Greystone): Spectacular photographs illustrate texts covering B.C. from the Pacific waters to the Rockies’ mountaintops, and all the flora and fauna existing in between, from insects to birds and mammals, from mosses to Douglas firs. Diagrams and maps show tidal waves, currents, forested areas and animal habitats, and explain natural phenomena. Well-written, easy to follow, and endlessly fascinating.
Harbour Publishing lives up to its name with its series of field guides and books for recognizing what we can see on our shores. Two new slim, accordion fold-outs, with bright, clear illustrations and printed descriptions of every static and travelling denizen of our coastal waters, are here for quick and easy reference. Don’t go to the shore without one. Choose A Field Guide to Marine Life of the Outer Coasts of the Salish Sea and Beyond or A Field Guide to Marine Life of the Protected Wasters of the Salish Sea, both by Rick M. Harbo.
When you get back from your beach walks, you can settle down at home with The New Beachcomber’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest (completely revised and expanded, 2019), by J. Duane Sept (Harbour Publishing). With lots of photographs and pages of shells, so you can check out your finds, the author covers everything from sponges, anemones, jellies, worms, barnacles and sea weeds, to lichens and stars, all living on our coast.
A Field Guide to Insects of the Pacific Northwest, by Dr. Robert Cannings (Harbour Publishing): This is another easy-to-carry fold-out field guide, where you will find illustrated every useful and/or annoying insect, from silverfish to the seven-spot lady beetle. A first section explains insects, then it goes on to individual photos and descriptions. We know about dragonflies, but giant stoneflies, snakefly, or the Kirby’s backswimmer? Now you can spot them with this field guide in your pocket.
Beginner Gardening for Canada, by A.H. Jackson (Lone Pine): Fall and winter are definitely coming, and aspiring gardeners’ thoughts go to spring. Here’s a great book to give as a gift, or buy to inspire yourself, wherever you live in Canada’s varied climate regions. Flowers, vegetables, grasses, ornamental shrubs. trees, soils and cultivation are all covered and illustrated with coloured photographs.
Edible Container Gardening for Canada, by Rob Sproule (Lone Pine): If you’ve decided on gardening on a small scale, this book is for you. The author covers every form of container from pots to garbage cans, what to grow, how to grow and harvest it, whether it’s for herbs, salads, pizza or dessert. Colourful, easy to read and well-illustrated.
Small Space Gardening for Canada, by Laura Peters (Lone Pine): Get this book, and you’ve no excuse not to garden, whether it’s in a window or balcony container, on a roof, in your yard or in community gardens. The author tells you how, wherever you are, or what you are planting. Concise, well organized and illustrated – a great small book for beginner gardeners, or even the more experienced.
Cougar Companions: Bute Inlet Country and the Legendary Schnarrs, by Judith Williams, Raincoast Chronicles 24 (Harbour Publishing): Here’s what it was like to live in a remote coastal B.C. area, from the 1930s to the ’60s, with logging crews and, in the case of the Schnarr daughters, your pet cougars. Luckily, their father was an avid photographer, so you can both read and see the pictures.
Kipling: A Brief Biography, by Alberto Manguel (Bayeux Arts): A short, easy-to-read life story of this well-known author, about his life, his writing and his books. Well illustrated with family photos.
Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How – The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running, by Rick James (Harbour Publishing): When the U.S.A. made prohibition of alcohol into law in 1920, thirsty Americans looked north for relief, and enterprising Canadians saw financial opportunities. Here on the West Coast, with its many islands, bays and inlets, both U.S. and Canadian, almost anything sea-worthy suddenly looked like a money-maker. Chapters of adventure and disaster at sea, murders, gang-wars, fortunes made and lost, make this a fascinating read.
Shoelaces Are Hard, and other Thoughtful Scribbles, by Mike McCardell, (Harbour Publishing): A great antidote for anytime we think we live in a dull, hum-drum world, this new book of McCardell’s short articles are interesting, heart-warming, amusing and often thought-provoking, reminding us to really look at and see the world around us.
Ranch in the Slocan: A Biography of a Kootenay Farm, 1896-2017, by Cole Harris (Harbour Publishing): Harris writes of his pioneering grandfather, from a well-to-do British family, sent to Canada to learn farming. His father fell in love with the west, bought land in the Slocan family and worked the rest of his life, clearing and working it. Between his writing and that of his grandson, we get a picture of not just his life, but of his land and the times. A good read, including living peacefully when his property became a Japanese internment camp.
The Hot Springs Cove Story: The Beginnings of Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, by Michael Kaehn (Harbour Publishing): Ivan H. Clarke’s grandson writes of his grandfather’s life and entrepreneurial ventures, including his marine travels up Vancouver Island’s West Coast as a supply boat operator. There he is fascinated by the Hot Springs at Refuge Cove, saw its financial possibilities, got a Crown Grant, pitched a tent, opened a general store and raised his family there. He eventually donated part of his property to B.C., and it’s now part of Maquinna Marine Provincial Park.
Asa Johal and Terminal Forest Products – How a Sikh Immigrant Created B.C.’s Largest Independent Lumber Company, by Jinder Oujla-Chalmers (Harbour Publishing): Not just a story of Johal’s hard-won successful career, but an overview of B.C.’s lumber industry and the ups and downs of world markets for lumber over almost a century.
O Canada Crosswords, Book 20, by Gwen Sjogren (Nightwood Editions): This is the 20th anniversary edition of this popular series with 100 Canadian themed puzzles in larger grids and sometimes excruciating pun clues. A great gift for puzzle addicts.