From stunning architecture and quaint towns, to wild shores and majestic forests, Vancouver Island is exceptionally beautiful. It is a place that has inspired generations of artists and writers whose works showcase and reflect the humanity, history, beauty, and wild tranquility of the West Coast. There have been many books written about Vancouver Island and while they may not all grace bestsellers lists, there are a few gems that are exceptional and not to be missed! From crime novels to coming-of age stories, from historical fiction to informative and enchanting non-fiction, we’ve rounded up our top ten books set on and about this wonderful Island.
Savvy, street-smart, Coast Salish investigator Silas Seaweed is hired to help find a billionaire’s daughter after she mysteriously disappears. His investigations uncover a trail of greed, obsession, violence and murder. From the darkest corners of Victoria, to the glittering lights of Sin City, this novel takes you on a heart pounding journey that blends modern-day detective work with ancient Coast Salish traditions. It’s the perfect holiday page-turner that’ll have you hooked from the first page to the last. You can also check out more books in the Silas Seaweed saga here.
It’s 1858 and in Colonial Victoria, The Hudson Bay Company still looms large despite the imminent deterioration of the fur trade and the unruly emergence of the gold rush. Margaret Work, the eldest daughter of Hudson Bay’s Chief Factor, the powerful and stern John Work, at 23 fears for her future. Her sisters and Métis mother, ever present at the balls and parties held by prominent figures in Victoria society, endure racism and snobbery and long to retreat to the peace and quiet of Fort Victoria. The external turmoil of a burgeoning city on the brink of a power shift, inner turmoil of Margaret Work, the class structure of early Victoria and societal demands of the Work women creates the backdrop to the cultural tensions, romance and love that makes Chief Factor’s Daughter an instant classic.
Theo, a young girl who lives in Vancouver with her immature, poverty-stricken mother, dreams of belonging to a ‘real’ family. After moving from school to school for years, her mother meets a new boyfriend and Theo is sent to Victoria to live with her aunt. On the ferry to the Island, Theo meets her ideal family, the Kaldors. The Kaldors are the kind of family she has been dreaming about belonging to her whole life. When Theo slips and falls on the ferry deck, her dream comes true when she is mysteriously and suddenly adopted by the Kaldor family. But as time passes, her new life begins to fade until Theo finds herself back with her mother. Was any of it real? And what is the shadowy figure that now haunts Theo’s mind?
When Mark Brian, a young vicar, arrives at the isolated village of Kingcome it is a shadow of what it once was. According to Kwakiutl legend, the village of Kingcome, in the wilds of British Columbia, was founded by two brothers left on Earth after the great flood. This ancient village, that has withstood time immemorial, surrounded and informed by nature whose totems stood tall and proud, has been overcome by modernity and colonialism. Mark Brian comes face to face with a generation disenchanted with their future and alienated from their heritage and must find his place in this village and go on a journey of discovery to find his place in the world.
Rainshadow is filled with 15 short stories from some of the finest writers in Canada. You don’t have to be from the West Coast to enjoy this lovely anthology and with bite-sized stories, it is the perfect beach read!
In The Forest Lover, Vreeland gives readers a lush historical fiction about the life of the celebrated and reclusive artist, Emily Carr. Carr lived a fiercely independent life travelling to Paris to study her passion for painting, blazing a path for female artists, going to isolated First Nations villages, and ultimately living life on her own terms. Carr’s work captures Victorian life in the isolated West Coast, the colossal, untamed power of the BC wilderness and the life and traditions of First Nations people before the industrial revolution changed the world forever. This historical fiction transports you to another time and gives the reader a glimpse into the life of one of the world’s most celebrated and unique artists.
On a hot August month during the 1990s, the lives of the residents of Delhoume Road, a small rural community in Mill Bay on Vancouver Island, are forever changed when a group of neighbourhood children discover an object from Deloume Road’s past. As each of the residents’ stories are uncovered, the delicate intricacies and intertwining of their lives begin to be tested and lead to a sequence of events one hundred years in the making that erupts with tragic consequences. With straightforward prose, Hooton reminds us that the ties that bind a small community are as important as they are complicated.
If you’ve ever wondered about Victoria’s prominent early residents, what life may have been like during the many highs and lows throughout this city’s history or wondered why Victoria is so very English, this is the book for you. With detailed maps, entertaining anecdotes and accuracy, Reksten brings to life the real, sometimes turbulent history of this beautiful city.
If you love quirky histories, Victoria: The Unknown City will be right up your alley. In this fun and fascinating sequel, Crockford extends his examination into this capital city’s complexity. Victoria’s polished exterior has always concealed dark secrets, contradictions, and undeniable eccentricities that only residents really understand. From rumours of Satanic worship to where to find the best culinary experiences, Crockford covers it all. This is truly a fabulous, witty and useful resource for visitors and residents alike!
Cougar Annie’s Garden tells the tale of a woman in 1915 who came to the wild West Coast to make a life for herself. Courageous and independent, Ada Annie Rae-Arthur tirelessly worked to clear a patch of rugged forest, and created no ordinary homestead but a mesmerizing garden. As time passed, her garden became more and more enchanting, creating a sense of otherworldliness set in amongst the untamed wilderness of BC. From her home, Ada opened a mail-order nursery, general store and post office that she worked in throughout her life. She had many children and husbands, was a skilled hunter and trapper and became a cougar bounty hunter, killing nearly one hundred of the fierce cats – where she was given the moniker “Cougar” Annie. Cougar Annie’s story is one that tells the tale of a woman with the tenacity to take on the wilds of BC, whose legacy spans time and enchants and inspires over a century later.