Bowering's BC: A Swashbuckling History


420 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-670-85757-2
DDC 971.1




Reviewed by Barry M. Gough

Barry M. Gough is a professor of history at Wilfrid Laurier University
and the author of The Northwest Coast: British Navigation, Trade, and
Discoveries to 1812.


George Bowering’s history of British Columbia is unlike any other.
With affection and flair, he focuses on unusual and little-known events.
There is no grand narrative here—only a smorgasbord of the mainly
anecdotal and even trivial.

The end result is unsatisfying, for British Columbia’s history is
more than a series of curious episodes and conundrums. In fact, it is a
grand and curious battlefield of races, classes, regions, and national
rivalries. Many will doubtless enjoy Bowering’s storytelling analysis
of, say, “Workers and Coolies” or “Nazis and Nisei,” but he does
not portray the emergence of a caring, assimilating society—rather the
reverse. When he gets to recent history, his abundant sympathy for
Natives and Native causes shines through. The text gathers momentum and
meaning, but it comes too late.


Bowering, George., “Bowering's BC: A Swashbuckling History,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 1, 2022,