Book Review – Raincoast Chronicles #22: Saving Salmon, Sailors and Souls: Stories of Service on the BC Coast

Editor: David R. Conn (Harbour Publishing, 2013)

It is always a delight to get a hold of a new Raincoast Chronicles. No matter what the theme, there is always something of interest between the covers.

Issue no. 22 is no different. Guest editor David R. Conn has brought together a fascinating and diverse collection of stories that highlight the theme of service and to that end includes pieces on missionary work in Victoria’s Chinatown, bus service in Vancouver, British Columbia’s Forest Service boats, the practice of medicine in the Gulf Islands, a night time watch over spawning salmon and even helicopter rescue.

I was particularly taken with Alan Haig-Brown’s piece on a summer spent working as a deckhand on the ‘Arrawac’, a whaling schooner come coastal freighter, schlepping the essentials of coastal life up the BC coast. Haig-Brown’s story recalls an era that’s within recent memory but now seems so far away.

Equally, Angus McIntyre’s article recalling his 40 years on the job as a Vancouver bus driver brings back fond memories of riding the Brill coaches through the city streets when I first arrived in the city. And I now have a greater appreciation of those well cared for, but somewhat official looking vessels – the former Forest Service boats – seen in local waters.

Publications like this aren’t meant to, nor should they, be devoured in one sitting and my copy has been lying around for weeks, picked up whenever there’s a moment free. It’s always a pleasure to read well written and considered local history. This volume of Raincoast Chronicles is no exception.

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For more information, visit the Harbour Publishing website.

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John Atkin is a civic historian and author who organizes and conduct tours for groups and individuals. John has explored Vancouver like few others have and offers an interesting and offbeat insight to the city’s architecture, history and neighbourhoods. He has created, and conducts, a number of unique and popular walking tours throughout the City of Vancouver. You can visit his website to his tour schedule.