Sound Heritage: Voices from British Columbia
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at St. Jerome’s
College, University of Waterloo.
This book is the product of the Sound Heritage project at the provincial archives of British Columbia. All the articles have appeared before in Sound Heritage, the annual of the project. What appears here is, in many ways, “the greatest hits” of Sound Heritage.
Without qualification, this is an excellent book. Oral history (or, as project members call it, aural history) is an innovative historical research technique that has gained added respectability through the fine efforts of those such as Barry Broadfoot. In this case, the subtitle, Voices from British Columbia, beautifully describes the work. Interviews with participants in major events, experts in the field, or descendants of those involved, provide a rich verbal mosaic that gives the reader a real feel for many facets of British Columbia life. Among the various topics covered are Native peoples, settlement, business, and labour. Many of the short chapters deal with the “characters” who seem far more plentiful in B.C. than elsewhere, such as “Red Shirt Bill” or “the Squire of Saltspring Island.” The publishers also deserve praise. The format is attractive, the editing precise, and the photographs crisp. Occasionally in Canada a book unexpectedly becomes a bestseller. This work deserves such a fate.