Bella Coola: Life in the Heart of the Coast Mountains


160 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-55017-305-7
DDC 971.1'1





Photos by Hans Granander and Michael Wigle
Reviewed by Marilyn Mardiros

Marilyn Mardiros is an associate professor of health sciences at the
University of Ottawa.


Hidden in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Bella Coola is a
Canadian treasure. The Bella Coola Valley, 80 kilometres long and 120
kilometres up the North Bentinck Arm from the Pacific Ocean, is
geographically diverse and wealthy in natural resources and culture. In
many ways, the valley epitomizes Canadian history: it was in this area
that Alexander Mackenzie led the first overland party to reach the
Pacific in 1793, 12 years ahead of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

This lovely coffee-table book captures the beauty of the Bella Coola
Valley. Moving from past to present, Granander and Wigle relate human
and natural history through a combination of photography and narrative.
At the heart of the book are the region’s mountains, many rivers,
lakes, and wildlife.

The Nuxalk are the original First Nations peoples of the region. We
learn about culturally modified trees, archeological sites, petroglyphs,
and contemporary art. An overview takes us from early contact between
Europeans and the Nuxalk to present-day communities in the valley. There
are photographic depictions of the fur trade, missionaries, and the gold
rush of the mid-1880s, among other things.

This fine book will undoubtedly inspire people to visit this unspoiled
wilderness area.


Granander, Hans., “Bella Coola: Life in the Heart of the Coast Mountains,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,