Author shares sea stories

Few places on earth have more tales about disaster at sea than B.C.’s rock-bound coast.

Few places on earth have more tales about disaster at sea than B.C.’s rock-bound coast.

Maritime historian and author Rick James will share some of these stories from his new book Raincoast Chronicles 21: West Coast Wrecks and Other Maritime Tales (Harbour Publishing, $24.95). He will give a series of book signings and presentations:

  • • Courtenay: Book signing at the Courtenay and District Museum  on Nov. 26 from 11 a.m, to 2 p.m. with other seven other local history authors: Paula Wild, Betty Annand, Kim Bannerman, Judy Hagen, Ian Kennedy, Gwyn Sproule and Harold Macey.
  • • Comox: Book signing at Blue Heron Books on Dec. 3 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Rick will present a slide show that recounts the experiences of unique coastal characters and reveals a number of mysteries —such as the story of the Geo S. Wright — an American steamer that was thought to go down somewhere near Cape Caution.

There may have been survivors, but after the wreck was reported to authorities, the story became more and more convoluted as rumours in newspapers became increasingly sensationalized.

At the center of the story was Alden Westly (West) Huson, the Alert Bay storekeeper who informed Victoria’s Daily British Colonist of the wreck, saying, “I have no doubt but that all are past and gone.” However, as James presents various artifacts and newspaper articles from the time, we find out that there may have been more going on with West Huson than meets the eye.

West Coast Wrecks and Other Maritime Tales is a pivotal book that makes B.C.’s maritime history accessible. Its tales of disaster at sea serve as a written memorial to all those whose bones lie on the bottom of one of the most treacherous stretches of coastline anywhere on the planet.

James has spent more than 20 years researching the stories behind the many shipwrecks off the coast of B.C., and has authored and co-authored multiple books and articles about the subject. Many people recognize him from the television documentary series The Sea Hunters, in which he played a role in the episode Malahat: Queen of the Rum Runners.

James has no shortage of stories about the fascinating and too-often tragic events that happened in waters of the Pacific Northwest.

These free events are made possible in part with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. For more information, go to the Harbour Publishing events calendar at www.harbourpublishing.com or call 604-883-2730.

— Harbour Publishing