Book reading at library

The author of Desolation Sound: a History will visit the Courtenay Library.

The author of Desolation Sound: a History will visit the Courtenay Library.

Heather Harbord will read this Friday at 7 p.m.

Heather will read from her latest book, Texada Tapestry.

Texada is the largest island in the Strait of Georgia, a long strip of richly mineralized granite and limestone dividing the upper gulf.

Harbord’s portrait of the island is a colourful and fascinating account of one of the most diverse of the Gulf Islands. Readers will gain insights into the rich history from the early First Nations peoples and the discovery by Spanish explorers, to the development and extraction of its natural resources, to the cultivation of British Columbia’s most illustrious yet prohibited crop and its enticing locale for tourists.

The island provides unique a world unto itself even though it is just six hours via three ferries, from Vancouver. This idyllic northern Gulf Island with its big sandy beach, Sunday’s farmer’s market and a scant population of aging loggers, miners, pot growers and other retirees, belies Texada’s intriguing history.

Although today Texada is better known as the home of the illegal agriculture product called Texada Gold, it was once the focus of a real gold rush that lured no less a figure than cookie tycoon William Christie. Later, Texada was the site of British Columbia’s first major political scandal when squabbles over a rich iron ore claim forced the resignation of Premier Amor de Cosmos in February 1874.

The rich mineral deposits in time gave rise to three booming towns — Gillies Bay, Blubber Bay and Van Anda, noted as the town with everything, even an opera house. Population ebbed and flowed with mineral prices and Texada went in and out of the news.

Its association with illegal intoxicants dates back to 1928 when the biggest whisky still north of Vancouver was busted in romantic Pocahontas Bay. The bitter Blubber Bay strike of 1938 put Texada in the news again as the Pacific Lime Company faced off against the International Woodworkers of America labour union in a bloody riot.

This is also the feisty island that repelled the might of the Greater Vancouver Regional District when it wanted to dump metropolitan garbage in the abandoned pit of the once-famous Texada Mine.

Harbord has dedicated years to research, including over 100

interviews with locals and oldtimers to create a captivating book full of unforgettable characters, humorous anecdotes and well-researched facts, accompanied by many previously unpublished photographs.

Once again, she has created a valuable volume on the history of the B.C. coast.

Harbord is a former Geology Librarian of the Royal School of Mines

in London who has been exploring Canada’s three oceans by sea kayak, Russian icebreaker and working boats since 1963. She has written four previous books including the best selling Desolation Sound: A History.

She lives in Powell River, overlooking the island she has written about and kayaked around.

Harbour will read at the Courtenay Library this Friday at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Mary Donlan at 250-334-3369.

— Courtenay Library