Gold Creeks & Ghost Towns
Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at St. Jerome’s
College, University of Waterloo.
N. L. Barlee is the author of a number of works on the gold country of British Columbia.
Gold Creeks & Ghost Towns is, in many ways, a fascinating book, but the reader has to dig for the truly interesting tidbits, which are often buried in the mundane and the ordinary. This is partly because of the format of the book. Rather than a history of the region, the work is a dictionary of towns. The author has chosen to include literally every town involved in the gold industry whether there is a plethora of information available or almost none at all. The result is that many of the town biographies are sketchy, to say the least. The stories of the towns for which information abounds are full of life and, although the writing sometimes borders on the very amateurish, the detail provides an unusually rich historical account.
There is a similar dichotomy in the illustrations. The several maps are very useful to readers not readily familiar with the area in question, and many of the photographs of the towns and work sites are priceless; but pictures of coins, bottles, and historic plaques really add little to the reader’s understanding.
This is a worthwhile book, but it would be much improved by some prudent editing.