95 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919285-28-7





Photos by Robert Minden
Reviewed by Neil Querengesser

Neil Querengesser taught in the Department of English, University of Calgary, Alberta.


On the southwest corner of Lulu Island, where the Frazer River empties into the Strait of Georgia, lies Steveston, “onetime cannery boomtown: ‘salmon capital of the world’.” In 1974 (Steveston, Talonbooks), Daphne Marlatt and Robert Minden gave through words and photographs a bittersweet portrayal of the people and places of this town. Thirty-two of Minden’s photographs, mainly portraits of the town’s residents, told Steveston’s story, which was then retold in a different fashion by Marlatt’s 22 poems. In the present edition, photographs and poetry have been combined, with commendable results.

Marlatt’s poetry is often densely packed; especially in her poems about the river, her rhythm assimilates the water’s flow, piling image upon image as the river and ocean meet and mingle in the backwater of Steveston. In the second edition, the photographs after each poem provide sharp foci for the images of the poetry, a point upon which Marlatt waxes eloquent in her retrospective epilogue. Her poems of anecdotes and episodes in the life of Steveston, often filled with direct quotations from the inhabitants themselves, are also complemented by the photographs. In Minden’s classic black-and-white portraits, the faces of his subjects without exception meet the camera with a dignified grace. Although five of the pictures in the first edition have been replaced by six different ones in the second, and although the reproductions in the second edition are more darkly tinted than those in the first, the original impact of Minden’s work is not diminished.

Second editions of books of this nature are rare and often risky undertakings. In the case of Steveston, the result has been worth the risk.


Marlatt, Daphne, “Steveston,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,