Book editor Barbara Price and a copy of Mack Laing’s <em>Baybrook: Life’s Best Adventure.</em> Photo supplied

Book editor Barbara Price and a copy of Mack Laing’s Baybrook: Life’s Best Adventure. Photo supplied

Comox Archives and Museum Society publishes 80-year-old Mack Laing manuscript

Comox Archives and Museum Society is hosting a book launch for Hamilton Mack Laing’s new book, Baybrook: Life’s Best Adventure. The event takes place on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2-4 p.m. at the Comox Museum.

“If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift look no further than the Comox Museum where the newly published Hamilton Mack Laing book, Baybrook: life’s best adventure, can be purchased for $20,” said Jim Whitehead, chair of Comox Archives and Museum Society.

It is a story that begins in Comox 100 years ago. It was a manuscript waiting to be published. Written by Mack Laing from 1922 to 1944, the book takes us on a heartwarming journey. It is the last day of September 1922. After a summer of collecting specimens, Hamilton Mack Laing is breaking camp. Always unhappy to leave a good camp, this went deeper. To quote the book, “I wanted this bit of Vancouver Island beachfront for my own, hungered for it as had Jacob for his Rachel.”

Luckily for him, the shoreline had recently been subdivided and was for sale. After some hardnosed bargaining, Hamilton Mack Laing became the first to buy in the new subdivision. For the princely sum of $750, he owned five acres of waterfront on Brooklyn Creek in Comox and “for the first time a bit of the earth and a home of my own.” With his marriage to Ethel Hart in 1927, the book takes us through “the best adventure of my life.”

Hamilton Mack Laing was born in Ontario in 1883 and grew up on a farm in Manitoba. He was a keen naturalist and hunter from an early age. His first occupation was school teaching. Later he made a living by writing nature articles and collecting birds and mammals for museums and private collectors. He studied art for a period in New York and was a good photographer; a convenient way to illustrate his articles. Always active, he died in Comox at the age of 99.

Before his death, Mack Laing requested his story be published and left instructions and the manuscript with a friend. When the friend went into a care home the unpublished manuscript was discovered and donated to the Comox Archives and Museum Society with exclusive ownership of the material. It took another 17 years until Mack Laing’s dream of having his book published became a reality.

“We hope to see you at the book launch on Saturday, Dec. 3. The event will begin with a presentation by editor Barbara Price about Baybrook: Life’s Best Adventure and you can buy the book at the Comox Museum,” said Whitehead. “Please bring cash or a cheque. After all, we are a museum!”

The Comox Museum is located at 1729 Comox Ave. (the old library building), opposite the Comox Centre Mall. Admission is free. The Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Comox ValleyLocal History

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