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Obee, Bruce.

North Vancouver, Whitecap Books, c1986. 185pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-920620-77-9. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Eswyn Lyster

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

Bruce Obee is a Vancouver Island writer who has been freelancing since 1977, and has a previous book, The Gulf Islands Explorer (Whitecap, 1984), to his credit. In his new book, he tackles a complex subject, and brings to it his obvious knowledge of, and appreciation for, this particular part of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Whether he is discussing winter hiking, wheekhair access, kayaks, or even bicycles, you feel confident he knows whereof he speaks.

The Pacific Rim is an area of exceptional beauty, as is clear from the many small black-and-white photographs, and the sensitive chapter-head drawings by Suzanne Gagnon. It also has some problems of access, and at times presents safety problems to the unwary, but these aspects are anticipated and dealt with positively and realistically. The chapters cover Pacific Rim, Long Beach, Barkley Sound, and the West Coast Trail, and there is a useful bibliography, a list of addresses for obtaining fishing licences, a list of means of transportation, maps, charts, and tide tables, etc.

As in many books of this nature, animals and birds are described in some detail, while plant life is only touched upon, although I was pleased to read about the Shorepine, which I often noticed among the other trees near Long Beach. It is quite distinct and has a Japanese quality to it, with branching bare grey limbs and rounded clumps of green at the tops. But what of the special wild flowers? Potentilla villosa survives happily on rocks continually dampened with salt spray. The dwarf dogwood, Cornus canadensis, grows along some of the main roads. I once found the beautiful Gentiana sceptrum growing happily in pure sand a few hundred yards from Long Beach. I realize that this is a personal interest and perhaps it is asking too much to expect a discussion of these and other treasures, but many nature lovers would find a detailed plant list for the area a most welcome addition.

This is a valuable book for anyone who plans to visit or study the Pacific Rim area. For others, it is more a book to dip into, not being one that can be read from cover to cover with ease. Hikers with even a passing interest in botany would be advised to carry relevant pocket-size volumes of Lewis J. Clark's definitive Wild Howers of British Columbia (Gray's, 1973), or some other field guide to west coast plants. Obee tells us that, at the time of going to press, Pacific Rim National Park still did not legally exist, although it has been operated since the early 1970s as if it did. His book can only underline the necessity to officially protect these 513 square kilometres of unrivalled wilderness.

Eswyn Lyster, Qualicurn Beach, B.C.
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