Maywell Wickheim's book

A little fireside reading: Some books of interest

A few new book titles which might interest Sooke readers

Bites, Bulls & Bullets

Author: Maywell Wickheim


290 pages, softcover


There isn’t a person who has lived in Sooke for any length of time that hasn’t heard of Maywell Wickheim.  Wickheim is a modern pioneer who has learned to fashion what he needs, keep his wants at a minimum and accomplish all he sets out to do.

Wickheim is a breed apart, the type of person you don’t see much anymore. He knows or can figure out how to do just about everything needing doing – and he does it in his own humble way seeking neither recognition nor pats on the back. He has purpose and pride in a job well done.

In Bites, Bulls & Bullets he tells stories of life in Sooke and area drawn from the well of memories he has. Whether it is about the characters or the times, his memory hasn’t been tarnished by time.

It’s an enjoyable book and many will recognize his sardonic humour in the telling of the tales. In his quiet humble way, Wickheim is Sooke. His life on and around the water is full of anecdotes and wisdom gained from his 89 years. His life’s adventures are sure to appeal to anyone who knows Maywell or people like him. These men of their generation are manly men — strong, principled and rare.

Bites, Bulls & Bullets is a very enjoyable read  — highly recommended.

And typical of Maywell, $2 from the purchase price of the book goes to the Sooke Food Bank. Get it while you can.

Heart & Soil: The Revolutionary Good of Garden

Author: Des Kennedy

Harbour Publishing

224 pages, softcover


Gardeners in and around Sooke are likely familiar with Des Kennedy. Kennedy is a respected gardener and a passionate advocate for the environment.

In his latest book, Heart & Soil: The Revolutionary Good of Gardens, Kennedy writes about his experiences gleaned from 40 years of gardening.

His sense of humour and wit gives a warm and playful tone to the book. This isn’t a how-to book but rather one man’s connection to the earth and the roots and rhizomes that transform our sacred spaces.

Along the way Kennedy offers up his extensive knowledge in a sometimes comical way and makes the reader seek out the next short story. The titles of the stories give a small hint to what will be said. For example, “Going to the Dark Side” is a story of the voodoo lily, a less than pretty plant with exotic properties. “Seeing the Light” deals with challenges of light and how to use it effectively in the garden.

Other stories talk about the philosophy of gardening and the simple joys of putting one’s hands in the dirt.

Photos of Kennedy’s garden on Denman Island are sure to inspire all who aspire to grow things.

Des Kennedy is the author of five books of essays, including his memoir, The Way of the Gardener, and three novels. He’s an award-winning journalist, broadcaster and environmental activist, and a three-time Stephen Leacock Award nominee.

There’s no better way to spend the days waiting for the plants to sprout than reading Heart & Soil and enjoying a few laughs.






Shore to Shore

The Art of Ts’uts’tmutl Luke Marston

Harbour Publishing

Author: Suzanne Fournier

128 pages, softcover

Probably the most strikingly emotional piece of First Nations art to represent the survivors of the residential school system is Luke Marston’s bentwood box. The image emerging on one of four sides is Marston’s grandmother’s black tears with her crippled fingers held up to her face. The other sides are of a Woodlands aboriginal boy with red hands held to his mouth representing the children who were forbidden to speak their own languages. Add to that an Inuit man looking at the Northern Lights to a Thunderbird, the symbol of all First Nations. It is just one of the carved pieces from the hands of Luke Marston.

The book is meant to commemorate his 16.5-foot bronze cast cedar sculpture now in Stanley Park. Shore to Shore depicts Marston’s great-great-grandparents, Portuguese Joe Silvey and Kwatleematt, a Sechelt First Nation matriarch. Marston tells the stories through his art. The powerful pieces are testament to his heritage and his future. He was chosen to carve The Healing Pole through a juried competition by then Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point. The pole tells the creation story of how the 12 people fell from the sky. The message of remembering the past yet acknowledging the responsibility to move forward is a motif for Marston. He is guided by his ancestors. This is a beautiful book with gorgeous colour plates of  Marston’s art.

Marston began his career carving totems for the public at the Royal BC Museum and studied under Haida artist Robert Davidson and jewellery master Valentin Yotkov.

The book is written by Suzanne Fournier, who has been writing about First Nations topics for over 40 years. She co-authored Stolen from our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities.

From the West Coast to the Western Front

British Columbia and the Great War

Harbour Publishing

Authors: Mark Forsythe and Greg Dickson

259 pages, softcover


When two guys sat down for coffee and discussed their personal quests to find out more about their relatives who had been on the Western Front, they never thought others would be doing the same thing.

Mark Forsythe is no stranger to those who listen to CBC and BC Almanac which he has hosted since 1996. Greg Dickson was a journalist and producer at CBC radio and television for over 20 years.

Together they put out the call for other British Columbians to send in their stories to BC Almanac. Those stories became From the West Coast to the Western Front. It is a book written by everyone who contributed. There are letters, photographs and remembrances all honouring those who fought for King and Country. The province, at the time, had 400,000 people and 6,225 died in the battles of World War 1.

It is the stories of the internment camps where 5,000 Ukrainian were held not because of any threat to security but because of the threat to the economic prosperity of more established workers. The book tells these stories and others, like Japanese and Asians who were quarantined and turned back, placed in labour camps and generally discriminated against, although they were allowed to fight.

Nursing sisters and wartime romance, First Nations war heroes and numerous other stories haunt the pages of this book. The authors tell the stories that are being lost to us, saved through the contributions of the listeners of BC Almanac. It is heart felt and factual and is a piece of British Columbia’s history that is well preserved by these compelling stories from the people who hold first hand knowledge. It’s a legacy to those who served and helped build the province as we know it today.


Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History

Harbour Publishing

Authors: Margaret Horsfield and Ian Kennedy

622 pages, hardcover

Most of us know Tofino as a surfing mecca and tourist spot where it’s hard to find parking. But, the area has a rich history steeped in interesting characters, pioneers and resource industries.

Look back and you will discover that Tofino and Clayoqout Sound have been populated by indigenous people for more than 4,200 years and just 250 years ago the first European explorers arrived, most in search of sea otter pelts. The Nuu-chah-nulth diminished rapidly throughout the 19th century as their contact with traders and newcomers increased. By the last 19th century came the fishermen, missionaries, prospectors and the loggers, all eager to cash in on the human and natural resources.

The authors pay tribute to the first peoples and write fairly extensively on the residential schools in the area, Ahousat and Christie, and the effect it had on the children sent there. The missionary zeal often overlooked human compassion. As in many places in Canada, at the time, immigrants were encouraged to do the menial and dangerous jobs but discouraged from being equal.

Tofino and Clayoquot Sound is all about captains and their boats and the roles they played in the settling, industry and tourism of the region.

From the early days to the present, the history of the region is well researched and well presented in Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History. Many photographs add to the thoroughness of the stories told on the pages.

From the bombing of the Estevan Lighthouse during World War II to the War in the Wood — protests of clear cutting in Clayoquot Sound in the 1980s and 90, to the current treaty negotiations, this book provides a clear, concise and extremely interesting history of this part of Vancouver Island. Understanding the history of a place is the best way to understand a place.

It is clearly about life at the end of the road, a magical wild place where many struggled to survive and where many now want to be.

Margaret Horsfield is the author of several books including Voices from the Sound and Cougar Annie’s Garden.

Ian Kennedy is the author of several books about B.C. history including Sunny Sandy Savary.


The Sea Among Us

The Amazing Strait of Georgia

Harbour Publishing

Authors: Richard Beamish and Gordon McFarlane

394 pages, hardcover

The Strait of Georgia could be called the spine of the coast for it provides food, jobs, travel and recreation for over two-thirds of the population of B.C.

It is a great inland sea, a 6,515 kilometre body of water lying between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. It is the lifeline for human, animal and marine life.

Twelve experts have contributed to The Sea Among Us, presenting a comprehensive study of the Strait of Georgia and the importance of it as an ecosystem. Scientific information, geology, biology and anthropology push this book from being a coffee table picture book to one with serious intent as a resource to learn about the importance of the Strait. First Nation’s historical fishing methods and history is included as well as turn of the century fishing.

This book was written to educate people of the importance of the Strait of Georgia. It provides extensive background information useful to educators, politicians and anyone interested in the health of the Strait.

All author royalties from this book are being donated to the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which is using the funds to launch its new Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a program that seeks to understand the loss of, and restore sustainable fisheries for, Chinook and coho salmon in the Strait of Georgia.

There are, of course, beautiful colour photographs and maps and diagrams to accompany the text.

Richard Beamish has a PHD in Zoology from the University of Toronto and has worked with numerous research organizations.

Gordon McFarlane spend 30 years as a researcher at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.

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