Paula Wild and Rick James are a married pair of writers from Royston, B.C. who have come out with two vastly different books this fall.
Wild and James will both be in Port Alberni on Thursday, Nov. 15 for a pair of book readings. Wild has written about wolves, and James on rum running on the west coast.
The inspiration for Wild’s book, Return of the Wolf, came when she was writing her previous book, The Cougar: Beautiful, Wild and Dangerous. “I was totally immersed in it,” she says of Return of the Wolf. “It’s probably one of the biggest research projects I’ve ever done.”
Her most memorable wolf experience came when she and James were hiking on Quadra Island. “I decided to turn back early. When Rick joined me at the car we drove around the corner to find a large wolf in the middle of the road. He—or she—disappeared only to gaze at us intently, first from the trees…the last stare-down seemed to last forever, the wolf’s gaze so intense that I felt it was gazing into my soul.
“Afterwards, I got goosebumps when I realized that I’d spent a good 40 minutes in the woods on my own with no idea that a large predator was nearby.”
Wild said she is still trying to pin down the human fascination with wolves. “People are attracted to wolves, but wolves are also attracted to people,” she said. “There’s some sort of link there, but I really don’t know what it is.”
Rick James has spent the past 10 years researching Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How, which famed maritime author James P. Delgado calls “a book many thought could never be written.” Delgado said James “brings a colourful ‘wet’ bit of maritime history to life.”
“There’s always been a stigma that (rum running) was criminal activity,” said James, who is the author of the bestselling book Raincoast Chronicles 21: West Coast Wrecks and Other Maritime Tales as well as Ghost Ships of Royston.
“In actuality…it was great for the economy as it operated out of British Columbia’s west coast waters.”
When the Volstead Act of Prohibition was passed in the United States, mariners on the Canadian west coast found a way to supply illicit booze to American customers. Rum running was legitimized through businesses on Victoria’s waterfront, although transfers took place behind small islands in what became known as Rum Row.
There are even Port Alberni pioneers who were involved in the business. James will talk about the ships and the personalities behind it when he comes to town.
Despite the business-like attitude of rum running on the west coast, not many records remain, James said.
The book’s title comes from the unofficial motto of west coast rum runners: “The motto was ‘don’t never tell nobody nothin’ no how,’ James said, paraphrasing fellow author Fraser Miles from his book, Slow Boat on Rum Row.
Somebody obviously told James somethin’. Come to his talk to find out what.
Wild will be at the Port Alberni library, 4255 Wallace St., at 3 p.m. She will talk about wolf behaviour, how they communicate with howls, their family structure and show some of the stunning photos of wolves contained in her book. Her talk is suitable for youth too.
“The nine-to-12-year-old crowd seems to ask the most—and best—questions,” she said.
Her books will be available for sale during her appearance. Admission to Wild’s talk is free.
James will give a presentation on his book and the Port Alberni connection to the rum running trade at 7 p.m. at Echo Centre (also 4255 Wallace St.) in the Dogwood room, courtesy of the Port Alberni Maritime Heritage Society. Admission is free for PAMHS members or by donation for non-members.
James’s book will also be available for sale and signing at his appearance.