River City: A History of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands


239 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55017-211-5
DDC 971.1'2





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 and First Across the Continent: Sir Alexander


A person driving through Campbell River in the 1950s would never have
suspected the troubles then unfolding—worries about the river and
environmental degradation, arson cases, economic transformations, and
concerns about how mining was polluting drinking water. In later years,
this apparently sleepy town faced a revolution in education when John
Young breezed into town, declared truancy redundant, and made grades
unnecessary; by the time he was given his walking papers, he had created
a stir and left no known legacy of improvement. Campbell River, then as
now, put sport fishing first, and this book includes a fine photograph
of Bob Hope with his prize catch at Painter’s Lodge. There are side
glances, too, at Roderick Haig-Brown, noted writer, magistrate,
naturalist, and passionate defender of the environment.

River City stands firmly in the pioneer mode, and its author, who
demonstrated painstaking consideration in her extensive research into
pioneering lives, tells their story with sympathy and wisdom. Her
appreciation for the difficulties the pioneers faced and her keen
admiration for female pioneers are reflected in the photographs she has
selected. More attention could have been focused on church history,
municipal government and leaders, and the history of sports in Campbell
River. Also getting short shrift are the town’s naval and military
aspects. Did any Campbell River boys other than John Peacey fight in
France and Flanders? And how did the experience of this war and others
affect Campbell River?

Criticisms aside, this fine book is in many respects a model for
Canadian local history.


Taylor, Jeanette., “River City: A History of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/956.