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Powell River Author Reveals History of Desolation Sound

Posted: May 3, 2007

Heather Harbord will launch her new book: Desolation Sound: A History at Breakwater Books and Coffee Bar, 6812A Alberni Street, at 7pm on Thursday, May 17.

Desolation Sound, 160 kilometres north of Vancouver, has long been the most popular cruising destination on the BC coast. It is a place of spectacular beauty, full of hidden coves and picturesque inlets. Much of the area is park or ecological reserve and only accessible by boat. Despite the area’s popularity, little has been published about the people who populated some of these remote and rugged places.

In Desolation Sound, Harbord delves into the history of this fascinating place. Many of the old timers, written about by well-known authors like M.Wylie Blanchet in the Curve of Time, Francis Barrow and Beth Hill, are buried in the Cranberry Cemetery. These include Mike Shuttler, the philosopher of Melanie Cove; Phil Lavigne, the illiterate doyen of Laura Cove for whom the Barrows and others wrote letters; Joe Copeland, after whom the Ragged Islands were named; Sarah Palmer, wife of the reclusive James, who was left alone in winter on a homestead in Theodosia Inlet while her husband ran a trapline up Bute Inlet; Devina Chambers, who dug a trench and buried her furniture to save it from a fire that never came; and John D’Angio Sr. and his murdered brother, Raffaelle.

Only a few of these people have headstones. Some left no relatives to care. As they grew old and became sick, they came to the Powell River hospital to die—though some are buried on the land they pre-empted and cleared to qualify for their crown grants.

Harbord will be reading from Desolation Sound and talking about some of these stories at her book launch at Breakwater Books on May 17. She will also be signing books at Coles at Powell River Town Centre on Friday, May 18 from 12-2pm, and she will be appearing at Nancy’s Bakery in Lund on Sunday, May 27 from 2-4pm as part of Terracentric Adventure’s Open House.