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Author Explores the History of the Discovery Islands


January 12, 2009

The Discovery Islands, located at the top end of Georgia Strait, fit together like a jigsaw puzzle along a beautiful stretch of coast, surrounded by the mountains of the Mainland and Vancouver Island. Author and historian Jeanette Taylor sheds light on the history of the many fascinating individuals who have called these islands home over the past two centuries in her new book, Tidal Passages: A History of the Discovery Islands. Taylor will be giving an illustrated talk on the subject, sponsored by the Old Cemeteries Society, at James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies Street in Victoria on February 4 at 7:30pm

Known as the Discovery Islands, Read, Cortes, Sonora, Maurelle, Hardwicke, Stuart, Redonda and Thurlow Islands are sparsely populated today but bristled with life in earlier times. In Tidal Passages, Taylor delves into the history of these places, also covering many smaller islands and the surrounding mainland inlets (though not Quadra Island, which is the subject of a future book by the author).

Taylor introduces us to many inspiring characters in these pages and a few rogues and scoundrels too, including Dan McDonald, who was rumoured to have been part of the infamous Jesse James Gang before he relocated to Twin Island in 1889; George McGee, born around 1850, who survived several slave-taking raids as a child and managed to live through the 1862-64 smallpox epidemic that killed many of his relatives on Cortes; and Bonnie (Whittington) Brown, a famous cougar hunter from Read Island who had ten kills to her credit when she was still just a girl.

Taylor, formerly with the curatorial staff for the Museum at Campbell River and now the executive director of the Campbell River Art Gallery, collected hundreds of photographs and documents and conducted interviews with long-time residents whose memories reached as far back as the late 1890s. The result of 30 years of research, Tidal Passages is an absorbing story of pioneering, resilience, humour and kinship.

Admission to the event is free and pre-registration is not required. There will be a short business meeting and refreshments before the talk. For more information, phone the Old Cemeteries Society at 250-598-8870 or email oldcem@pacificcoast.net.