Heather Harbord has turned out a seriously fine book for Desolation Sound fans. Desolation Sound – A History is a history book that doesn’t read like a history book. There’s a succinct endorsement. Rugged places attract hearty people and eccentric people, and various combinations. That’s the human side of Desolation Sound and it may be an understatement.
Exhaustive research and excellent organization are the key elements that make this book so readable. It begins with a couple of maps, an area map and a settlement map. The local geography constrains the settlements with mountains and saltwater. Next is a short section on the early inhabitants and early explorers. The meat of the book is found in part 2: European Settlers. The sundry areas that comprise Desolation Sound are seen through the stories and interviews of the rugged and unique folks that settled each area. As the events of their lives unfold the book becomes warm and personal rather than a cold compilation of historical facts. The stories of the early pioneers are priceless; their hardscrabble lives a constant adventure. Definitely rugged, but as dramatic as the surroundings. Some of them…..well, you just couldn’t make them up.
Eulogizing about the Coastal Indian tribes is kelp to a minimum. And that is really delightful. Too many books drool with fantasies of the “Noble Savage” living in harmony with nature and one another. Total Bravo Sierra.
There is an extensive bibliography and timeline, but most appreciated is the pronunciation guide. Many of the place names are not pronounced at all like they are spelled. Read it……you’ll see what I mean.