River City: A History of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands
by Jeanette Taylor
ISBN 1550172115 (1-55017-211-5)
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Hardcover, Harbour, 1999
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Book summary: Campbell River, stretching along the benchland of Discovery Passage on the east Coast of Vancouver Island, is the hub of the island's north and the surrounding islands and inlets. Internationally renown as a sports fishing destination acclaimed for the size and quality of its salmon and for the wild beauty of its surroundings, the area draws tens of thousands of tourists each year.
The modern Campbell River, with a population of 30,000, carries only faint hints of its rustic beginnings as logging and fishing village, and even fewer traces of its ancient roots as a First Nations fishing community. Jeanette Taylor, a longtime resident and local historian, delves deeply into the area's history to deliver a fascinating insider's account of the people who have melded their skills and souls with the bold, brash, richly endowed landscape of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands.
Taylor follows the Lekwiltok peoples from their migration south to Campbell River's fishing grounds, through to "first contact" and the ensuing struggle for cultural and economic survival. She documents the indomitable first settlers of the area, whose vision and determination set the tone for the area's future growth, including Fred Nunns, who paddled up the coast from Comox with a piano straddling two canoes; businessman W.E. Anderson who made his fortune in the Yukon Gold Rush and expanded it by investing in the Quathiaski Canning Company; and a host of other Native people, loggers, fishermen, daredevils and pioneering men, women and children. They left their indelible stamp on Campbell River through the Great Depression, two World Wars and the astounding postwar boom in traditional industries, sport fishing and tourism.
The vision and vigour of the area's first settlers can be seen in Campbell River citizens of the nineties. The resource industries that generated its first wave of expansion have declined, but Campbell River is standing firm, looking to the new millennium with optimism as the ecotourism trade develops and restoration and revitalization breathe new life into the community. A riveting saga as well as an important historical record, River City comes from a writer who knows and loves the area's history, and who brings fresh insights into life and work along the Discovery Coast.
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