Reads for 2015

From local authors debuting their newest titles to intriguing books from the west coast, here's what's between their covers.

The Alberni Valley  is home to many talented people, among them book authors, or people who have become the subject of books. The past year seems to have been a banner year for local authors.

Here, then, is a sampling of some of the books coming out of the Alberni Valley and West Coast in the past year:

My Name Is Dolly; Poems & Stories; Power and the Native Woman

(published by, available online)

Publisher Annie Watts has teamed up with her mother, Dolly McRae, to produce a trio of books that are available from Watts’ new publishing company and as eBooks.

Watts and McRae launched the trio of books on Dec. 4.

My Name is Dolly shares moments of McRae’s life before she went to residential school. She writes of her time in Kitwanga, B.C., as well as her life in B.C.

Power and the Native Woman was written to assist anthropology students or anyone wanting to develop a concept of Native culture focused on the Nuu-chah-nulth and Gitk’san nations in B.C.



Pagan Flames

(published by Solstice Publishing and is available on Kindle and CreateSpace)

“Healing is an art,” says author Vanayssa Somers, “and romance readers will tell you, love stories are healing.”

Pagan Flames is a tale of two souls entwined through centuries, clinging without fail to the bonds of deep romantic love.

A debut author, Somers has worked as both R.N. and business-woman on two continents. “My work has always centered on people and their needs. Writing romance is no different.” Born in the Yukon, raised in B.C., she is familiar with the healing properties of boundless forests, pristine rivers and the deep wilderness.

“The immortal power of love is the best reason in the world to press on through life’s darkest moments—the reward is great for those who never give up on Love,” she says.


Global Casino: International Investment Banking, a Practical Guide

(self-published, available from and at the Port Alberni library)

John E. Van Dyke is the founder of Pan Pacific Group International Ltd. (PPG), leader of a multinational powerhouse and well versed in international finance. A resident of and businessman in South America since 1998, Van Dyke has returned to Port Alberni, where he grew up, to raise his daughters.

With Global Casino Van Dyke aims to provide the average person with a working knowledge of the international investment banking industry, the stock market and component that make up the Initial Public Offering (IPO) process for businesses.

This is Van Dyke’s third book.




Port Alberni (More Than Just a Mill Town)

(Published by Heritage House, available at Alberni Valley Museum)

Port Alberni is renowned historian Jan Peterson’s fourth book about Port Alberni, but this one is the most personal. Port Alberni is a colourful portrait painted as a result of Peterson’s time as a journalist with the Alberni Valley Times newspaper.

Peterson takes readers on a vividly described three-decade ride of boom and bust in a community that, she says, only gets stronger with each new challenge.







We Are Born With the Songs Inside Us

(Harbour Publishing, softcover)

Since 2004, journalist Katherine Palmer Gordon has interviewed dozens of young First Nations people living in B.C.—artists and community leaders, comedians and consultants, musicians and lawyers, people who are household names and those known only within their communities.

We Are Born With the Songs Inside Us collects 16 candid stories gleaned from those interviews: stories of people who share an unshakable belief in the importance of their cultural heritage to their well-being, to their success at what they do, and to their everyday lives.

Among them is Kim Baird, former chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, who negotiated the Tsawwassen Treaty; Gino Odjick, a former NHL star; and Penny White, a marine biologist who works with coastal communities on resource management.

Shattering stereotypes, We Are Born With the Songs Inside Us gathers the thoughts and hopes of young Native people living in 21st century Canada. Each has a compelling, meaningful story that deserves to be told, understood and, above all, celebrated.


Tofino and Clayoquot Sound

(Harbour Publishing, hardcover)

Margaret Horsfield returns with another historical gem from the West Coast, this time co-written by Ian Kennedy.

Clayoquot Sound, on the West Coast, is not only a place of extraordinary raw beauty, but also a region with a rich heritage and fascinating past. This book delves into all facets of the region’s  history, bringing to life the chronicle that started with the dramatic upheavals of geological formation and continues to the present day.

The book tours through the history of the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations as well as other nations that inhabited the area in earlier times.

A place is shaped by its people, and Horsfield and Kennedy highlight notable figures of past and present: the merchants, missionaries, sealers and settlers; the eternally optimistic prospectors, the Japanese fishermen and their families; the hippies, storm- and whalewatchers.

Offering an overall survey of the history of the area, Tofino and Clayoquot Sound is extensively researched and illustrated with photos and maps.

This book is a great companion to Horsfield’s previous historical book of the area, Voices from the Sound.


The Sobo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road

(published by Appetite By Random House)

Jennifer Schell, editor of BC Food and Wine Trails magazine, recommends The Sobo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road, by Lisa Ahier (published by Appetite By Random House).

“I love this restaurant,” says Schell. “I love Tofino, I love Lisa—this is a beautiful book. Sobo (Sophisticated Bohemian) was a pioneer in the now food truck craze—their purple food truck was operating in high gear way back in 2003, creating an instant new religion of fish tacos for the West Coast surf culture.

There are great stories of Tofino’s tribe of cool people and delicious sea-focused recipes.


Vancouver Island: Imagine

(MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., softcover)

With images by award-winning Comox Valley photographer Boomer Jerritt and text by bestselling author Peter Grant of Victoria, this photo book is pure magic. Many communities from the Island, including the Alberni Valley, are featured in this book.

Vancouver Island: Imagine celebrates the grit and joy of the islands’ people through Jerritt’s stunning photos  and Grant’s experienced storytelling.






All books in this feature are available through Salmonberry’s Emporium at Harbour Quay or Curious Coho Books unless otherwise noted.

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