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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Talk at Douglas House, Victoria BC, 25 Apr 2010

(Introduced by Eric Burkle, Vice-President,
Vancouver Island Trails Information Society)

I came to Canada in 1960 and joined the Outdoor Club of Victoria in 1962. I was never a great mountaineer.

Proposed by the Island Mountain Ramblers and Alpine Club of Canada that the Outdoor Club of Victoria should write a book about hiking trails on Vancouver Island. Events in the 1960's indicated that there was the possibility of funding. It was proposed that the OCV should get Centennial funding. This sounded a good idea and logical choice.

People like Ruth Masters and Syd Watts who knew about hiking were pestered daily about information – Strathcona Park, Comox Glacier, Forbidden Plateau, etc. They got no peace and felt a book might help.

From up-island clubs a motion, proposed by Joyce Clearihue and seconded by Ray Paine, that Bill Burroughs get a book together. Carried.

Bill, a very quiet physicist, had made a late marriage, had two small children, and spent half of each year at Resolute Bay measuring the ice (global warming), was too busy. John Harris knew the importance of a book and advised Bill to retire from the project. John promised someone could be found to take this on and he would give them his fullest support, which he always did. The project started in 1970.

To my surprise, as a newcomer, I'd been invited onto this committee solely because of my enthusiasm for Vancouver Island and B.C. maps. One day I was asked to look after all the material till they could find a new editor. I needed only to keep the stuff – so I agreed. Bill had done some basic work – East Sooke Park, Cape Scott – and I began getting interested.

I rang up the Times Colonist printer – cost of printing? He thought I was going to try writing a book myself. Not so. Advised me to split it into three. At this time I discovered that there had been three previous attempts, but no one ever thought of splitting it into three. He advised I start on Victoria. Somehow I found myself elected as the Head Honcho. Have a start of a committee – the Harrises, the Toms and Dave Birch. Plus, for laters, Syd Watts and Ruth Masters.

My idea – to bring out Victoria booklet at Christmas, BUT the OCV executive not keen me doing anything unless with Government funding. There wasn't any. I went to Laurie Wallace, Provincial Secretary, and asked for – and got – a letter saying "not a hope". At about this time I received a phone call from MacBlo, Port Alberni. Dave Birch and I met up with B. Kimble, Community Relations, in the Empress Hotel. He very impressed with our material. At first he was going to suggest MacBlo sponsor us, but later thought we should GO IT ALONE. No strings attached. I raised this at the OCV meeting. Club wildly excited. One question raised – Copyright? OCV Executive DID NOT want to deal with that. I found there was a way round it. Got in touch with our OCV lawyer, Joan Williams, who then worked in Vancouver. She agreed and drew up a legal document for us.

It was now late October. We had drawn our Victoria maps, written up the hikes, proof-read, got some nice illustrations and cover design. Cover arranged by Rosemary Picozzi, illustrations by Laurie Rossiter. Now time for estimates from printers. ALL totally different. Jane Toms asks Daphne Dunbar to see Dick Morris, as she knew him personally. He said at once – "You don't need to worry about money, this is going to sell. Hikers want information, not a fancy book." He was wonderful. Morris Printing best printers in town. That Christmas, 1972, Eatons Book Department handled our books – they were their best seller – 32 pages – cost $1.00.

This was only the start. Now we publish three books, do revisions and updates. We cover the Island. For printers I left it to my successors to go into colour and maps professionally drawn. The whole standard of production improves with each new edition. It has gone beyond my dreams. There are so many people to be thanked.

(The books have gone through 32 editions since 1972 with an estimated more than 100,000 copies sold.)