Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Lloyd Jeck loves Canada's westernmost province, British Columbia, especially its back-country. His love shines through every page of his latest book, BRITISH COLUMBIA TRAILS HEADING NORTH (Clearwater, BC: Majeck Publishing, 2011 ISBN 9780968673119).

The book has a "then and now" structure, interweaving current scenes and adventures with stories of British Columbia pioneers. Ben Snipes is one of these. In the 1850s, when Snipes reached the BC goldfields, other prospectors had already staked the profitable sites. He was too late to make his fortune mining the precious yellow metal, but he made a fortune anyway. Noting a shortage of meat in the mining camps, he drove beef cattle up from the United States. That was the beginning of Snipes's phenomenally successful ranching career. By 1861 he was known as the Northwest Cattle King.

A few years later, John Freemont Smith appeared on the BC scene. A Black man born in the West Indies, he arrived in the Kamloops area in the 1880s. He discovered coal there, and was instrumental in organizing the Kamloops Coal Company. A renaissance-type person, Smith was also, at various times in his life, a cobbler, a postmaster, and the developer of a mica mine.

Another pioneer featured in Jeck's book is Hugh Gillis, who died mysteriously on a steep mountain trail. Others include Frank Sylvester, Arnt Artntzen, and a law officer who threatened to have the entire population of Fort Alexander executed after a man was shot at the Fort.

A major strength of BRITISH COLUMBIA TRAILS HEADING NORTH is the way the author brings to life the settings where the pioneers lived—as well as other areas of the back-country. Jeck is a keen observer, careful researcher, and skilful storyteller who makes us feel as if we're really "there." With him as our often humorous guide, we meet the California quail of the Okanagan Valley, a busy little bird with "never a feather out of place." We see crows with white feathers. We learn about BC's wild horses including those sold to Russia in the 1920s. We hike, ski, and compare modern transportation with the steam locomotives and river scows of the past.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TRAILS HEADING NORTH is a book for anyone interested in BC history and the outdoors. Its 261 pages include a number of color photographs. Here's a sampling of chapter titles: "Where Does Northern British Columbia Begin?," "In Search of Solitude," "Wells Gray Country," "Omineca Buddies," and "A Ski Through Time." Endnotes list the sources Jeck used in his research. The book closes with a well organized index that makes it easy for the reader to find topics, locations, and persons of particular interest.

BRITISH COLUMBIA TRAILS HEADING NORTH is available in selected bookstores and through the publisher: Majeck Publishing, 1705 Yellowhead Highway, Clearwater, BC, V0E 1N1. Phone (250) 674-3391. E-mail



1 comment:

  1. Thank you Elma for the delightful review of my new book. It is always such a pleasure to chat with interested (and interesting) writing and reading enthusiasts. Lloyd