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Everything becomes island : Gulf Islands writing and the construction of region Rayner, Anne Patricia 1995

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EVERYTHING BECOMES ISLAND:GULF ISLANDS WRITING AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF REGIONbyANNE PATRICIA RAThERB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1983M.A., Concordia University, 1987A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of English)We accept this thesis as conforming.4/THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAAugust 1995© Anne Patricia Rayner, 1995In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)______________________________Department of________________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate,l9%DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTLiterary conventions in the writing of the Gulf Islands of the British Columbia coasthave “invented” the islands as a distinct region. Lying at the centre of the Strait of Georgiaurban region, the islands function as objects of pastoral desire: in representing escape fromthe city, they are perceived as “natural” by contrast. The landscapes of the Gulf Islands posita version of “nature” radically different from that common elsewhere in Canada. Theprotected waters of inland sea and archipelago, benign climate, naturally-occurring alternationof forest and meadow, and defining liminal zone of the beach make the local landscape seeminherently pastoral. As does the pastoral mode, the tropes of discovery and settlementprovide convenient, familiar frames for neo-colonial experience of nature and representationof landscape.Using a broadly historical approach, the thesis traces the longevity of local landscapeconventions since Spanish exploration of the islands in 1791 and 1792. Rapid populationgrowth intensifies the dominance of the pastoral, while tropes of discovery and settlementgive newcomers and established residents the rhetorical means to claim origins in the GulfIslands. The need to establish origins shapes community politics, which are codified in theIslands Trust, the provincially-funded body that oversees land-use issues in the islands.The thesis consists of ten chapters, the first two of which examine local conventionsfor defining Gulf Islands space and for writing the history of the islands. Chapters Three andFour discuss the tropes discovery and settlement, respectively, and Chapter Five focusses oncharacteristic narratives used to express the notion of “Gulf Island.” Chapters Six throughEight revisit the themes of the previous three chapters, inverting the order of discovery andsettlement in the second cycle to reflect the ahistorical, simultaneous invocation of these ideaslocally. Whereas Chapter Five demonstrates how one Gulf Island version of pastoraldominates the region’s presentation of itself in imaginative writing, Chapter Eight examinesthe consequences for local narrative when events cannot be articulated within the pastoralmode. As a counterpoint to analysis, in Chapter Four, of how settlement functions as arhetorical device in Gulf Islands writing, Chapter Six examines aspects of the physical, settledlandscape--specifically architecture and the ornamentation of holiday homes and hornesiteswith objects gathered from the beach--as deliberate expressions of indigenousness. In asimilar pairing, Chapter Seven examines nostalgic uses of the “discovery” trope intended toexpress local space, extending the scope of Chapter Three, which explicates attitudes towardthe islands expressed through two “original” European voyages of discovery in the islands.Chapters Nine and Ten discuss the role of intertexts in Gulf Island writing: only veryrecently has the idea of a Gulf Islands “canon”--as indicated by intertextual referencesbetween Gulf Islands texts--become current, Gulf Islands writing continues to rely onintertextual references to imperial foundation texts to define, and determine significance in,local landscape. The “sketch” form, which permeates all genres and modes of landscaperepresentation in the islands, in itself articulates the “natural” and thus expresses the conditionof “Gulf Island.”11TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstractiiTable of ContentsiiiList of Figures ivAcknowledgements viIntroduction Why Region? IChapter One Home Waters: Gulf Islands Regions 31Part One Without the Tongue: Defining Region 33Part Two Seven Types of Pastoral: Admiring the Sheep 43Chapter Two An Indefinite Space: Gulf Islands Histories 63Chapter Three We Found an Archipelago of Many Low, Small Islands:Discovery 82Chapter Four Back to the Slashing: Settlement 122Chapter Five Trailing Narrative 153Chapter Six Is There a Text in this Chicken Coop?: Settlement 179Chapter Seven The Green, of Varying Tints and Shining: Discovery 240Chapter Eight Crnising Narrative 274Chapter Nine Sites and Stories: Intertext and Indigene 302Chapter Ten At Sea in the Woods: Authority and Authenticity 322Conclusion Everything Becomes Island 354Envoi 373Works Consulted 374111LIST OF FIGURESFig. 1. The Gulf Islands Region 3Fig. 2. Engraving of Malaspina Galleries, Gabriola Island 116Fig. 3. Chart from Malaspina and Galiano Expedition, 1792 119Fig. 4. Biggins House: Beach Log Spiral 208Fig. 5. Leaf Retreat: Beach Log Post 209Fig. 6. Community Hall: Main Entrance 210Fig. 7. Ngan House and Studio: Totems 212Fig. 8. Ngan Studio: Driftwood Beam Entrance 213Fig. 9. Co-op: Main Entrance 214Fig. 10. Community Hall: Stackwall, Plaster, Driftwood 215Fig. 11. Community Hall: Round Room 220Fig. 12. Biggins House: Exterior 222Fig. 13. Leaf Retreat: Exterior 223Fig. 14. Cape Gurney House: View from Waterfront 223Fig. 15. Ngan House: Roof Detail 224Fig. 16. The Shire: Entrance 225Fig. 17. Burrow House: Kitchen 226Fig. 18. Leaf Retreat: Glass Walls 227Fig. 19. House Boat: Gooseneck Barnacle 228Fig. 20. Sorenson House: Main Entrance 229ivFig. 21. Sorenson House: Central Aisle 230Fig. 22. Ngan House: View from Meadow 231Fig. 23. Cape Gurney House: View from Meadow 232Fig. 24. Ellis House: Tree House Room 235Fig. 25. Lloyd House’s Boat House 235Fig. 26. Burrow House: “TV Totem” 237Fig. 27. Burrow House: Roof 238VACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank my supervisor, Laurie Ricou, for his immediate and continuousinterest in this project, and his support and suggestions. Professors W.H. New and Eva-MarieKröller also offered much appreciated support and criticism. I am extremely grateful toMichael McNamara of Blue Sky Design, who gave me access to the firm’s slide library, andpermitted me to copy slides for this study. All of the photographs in Chapter Six appear bycourtesy of Blue Sky Design.This dissertation is dedicated to my husband, Jeremy Rayner; who suggested thatscholarship might be compatible with the Gulf Islands, and who made the sacrifices thatbrought us back to live there.viIntroduction: Why Region? 1.Local patriotism rests on the intimate experience ofplace, and on a sense ofthe fragility of goodness: that which we love has no guarantee to endure.Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia, 101Pastorals ancient and universal appeal--to come away--requires newexamination in an age in which there is no away.Glen Love, “Et in Arcadia Ego,” 198In the West some beginnings are still remembered.Cole Harris, “The Emotional Structure of Canadian Regionalism,” 13Crevecoeur. . unwittingly reveals in the latter portion of his Letters to anAmerican Farmer that the only really new persons are those who haveforsaken white civilization for the tribes. As long as we keep ourselves busytilling the earth,’ he says, ‘there is no fear of any of us becoming wild.’ Andyet, conditions being what they were then, it was not that simple. It was notalways possible to keep one head looking down at the soil shearing awayfrom the bright low blade. There was always the great woods, and the lifeto be lived within it was, Crevecoeur admits, ingularly captivating,’perhaps even superior to that so boasted of by the transplanted Europeans.Frederick Turner, Beyond Geography, 244-45Chronology is the temporal equivalent of a Euclidean space: both areoperationally efficient because they deny the historical nature of the realmsthey manipulate.Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay, xixAnd everything thick, a kind of hair in the world., even the earth her bootssank into, powder earth composed of rootlets andfir mulch, a fibrous mass[sic]Daphne Marlatt, Ana Historic, 402In Canada, the term “region” describes huge geographical areas--the Maritimes, the“east,” central Canada, the Prairies, the West Coast, the North--that can span wholeprovinces or even several provinces. The Gulf Islands of the southern British Columbiacoast, by contrast, lie in Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and the mainland andbetween Comox in the north and the Saanich Peninsula to the south. They cover arelatively small geographical area, of which their land mass is a much smaller proportion,while their combined permanent population amounts to that of a small town (according toStatistics Canada Census information, 15,428 people lived in the Islands Trust Area in1986).’ Despite being dwarfed by the national or continental scale of the Canadian notionof region, however, the Gulf Islands constitute a region as sharply differentiated andculturally distinct as any other “region” in Canada. Whether this regional identity can beverified by any objective measure of “difference” is not the point: as a rhetorical construct,the Gulf Islands have acquired a regional identity.For the purposes of this study, I have adopted the Islands Trust definition of theboundaries of the Gulf Islands region (Figure 1). Many other versions of what constitutesthe “Gulf Islands” still exist, despite (or in opposition to) the Trust’s definition, but theIslands Trust area is the only legal definition of that space. Just as the Islands TrustThese figures are taken from an untitled Islands Trust policy document dated June 26,1992, which cites Statistics Canada as its source. One substantial barrier to widespreadacceptance to the idea of the islands as a region is the difficulty of collecting informationabout the area. The islands are not considered a discrete area by Statistics Canada, andsuch information as the federal government disseminates must be laboriously gleaned fromaccounts of the separate islands. The Islands Trust has nothing like enough fundsnecessary to conduct its own statistical research on the area.3Fig. 1. The Gulf islands RegionFrom: Thomas Ovanin, Island Heritage Buildings (1984)The Islands Trust Area4is not the central focus of this dissertation, the degree to which the Trust designation differsfrom local variations on what spatial arrangement is meant by the term “Gulf Islands” isonly a peripheral aspect of Gulf Islands space as I discuss that space in this study. Instead,I posit that the existence of the Trust (rather than the placement of the Trust Area’sboundaries) rests on conventions of representing the islands, however constituted, as adiscrete place, a region separate from the surrounding British Columbia, or PacificNorthwest, coast. As a site of political debate over the islands, the Trust embodies habitsof mind and language that can be traced through writing about the islands over the pasttwo centuries. My subject is not directly the politics of local space but the rhetoric thatinforms statements of local, which often has political consequences.The title of the dissertation, “Everything Becomes Island,” is a quotation from“Benchmarks,” a poem by Doug Beardsley, who also wrote “How Things Get Started,” thewhole of which appears as an envoi to the dissertation.2 The passage “[ejverything/becomes island” describes for me a phenomenon I encountered while reading the primarymaterials for this study and planning the dissertation: I originally conceived of this projectas an iconography of the Gulf Islands, an approach that seemed obvious, even inevitable,given how often aspects of the Gulf Islands landscape, both physical and social, aretransformed into icons of Gulf Island-ness. I abandoned the notion of iconography infavour of a study identifying and analysing rhetorical patterns of the local--beginning with2 Beardsley’s poem physically and discursively traces a line away from the last lines ofmy conclusion. I refer to two descriptions of the island landscape that emphasize theinsubstantial nature of that landscape: as Beardsley writes, there is “nothing to touch.” Histitle both echoes the grounding of this study in a personal experience of landscape, andbrings the path of the dissertation back to the beginning again, underscoring the point thatthis study cannot be the final word on the subject.5precisely the urge to define the characteristics of the local that had prompted my earlierapproach--in order to investigate why the impulse toward assembling and using a localiconography is so prevalent in Gulf Islands writing.The icons I identified, among which ferries, driftwood, and the arbutus areconspicuous examples, tend to be repeated from one island to another: such repetitionindicates shared conventions that group islands together into a rhetorical region.Problematically, however, these icons are used to represent not solely or even principally aGulf Islands region but individual islands which j iirn stand for the condition of “GulfIsland.” The shift from the singular island in the phrase “everything becomes island’ to theplural islands in my subtitle reflects the ambiguous relation between the archipelago andthe individual islands in the group as rhetorical constructs. The common practice ofconsidering one Gulf Island (or aspects of that island) as a metonymy for the whole regioncalls into question the validity of the notion “Gulf Islands region,” but I interpret thatblurring of the distinction between two spatial entities as a determining characteristic ofGulf Islands writing, since fluid relations between the local and the region helps defineGulf Island space.In the Canadian context, the word “region” carries connotations of populistresistance to centralized federal power: depending on the region, this power is perceived toreside in “the east,” in central Canada, in Ontario, or in Ottawa. In the Gulf Islands, all ofthese locations of control obtain, but they are complicated by other oppositions: to the restof Canada beyond the Rocky Mountains, to the rest of the province beyond the CoastMountains, to the urban centres--Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo and their suburban6peripheries--that surround the Gulf Islands, to the Regional Districts (rural versions ofmunicipal government) around the Strait under whose jurisdiction the islands fall, and tothe Islands Trust, a specially created government body intended to permit greater local orcommunity control of Gulf Island development.3 As a colonial space in all of these senses,the Gulf Islands region hardly needs other imperial models against which to define itself:to a great extent, however, the islands--whose European settlement was initiallyoverwhelmingly British--continue to reflect English culture, not solely, however, byreplicating the landscape and literature of the imperial centre, but by persisting in defininglocal space in reaction both to that centre and to all the other poles against which theislands define themselves. The crucial, paradoxical element of Gulf Island neo-colonialismis that here, immigration means not recreating a remembered imperial past but repudiatingthat past: the immigrant to the islands “goes native,” shedding earlier constructions of selfFormed by the provincial government in 1975, the Islands Trust is “the localgovernment agency responsible for land use planning for the islands and water in the Straitof Georgia and Howe Sound” (“Framing Our Common Future”). Each of the thirteen mainislands in the area has two elected trustees, who elect from among themselves an executivecouncil to oversee the Trust (the core islands are Bowen, Denman, Hornby, Gabriola,Galiano, Lasqueti, Mayne, North and South Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, and Thetis). TheTrust has authority over only a very few aspects of Gulf Island life, all of which stem fromissues of land use. For all other municipal purposes, each island is assigned to the regionaldistrict closest to it: in all, the Gulf Islands fall into seven different districts. Given theirphysical separateness from these districts, and their relatively low tax base, the islands aregenerally less well-served by those districts than their mainland community counterparts.The Regional Districts are responsible for building codes, property taxes, road maintenance,garbage collection and recycling, and parks and recreation. Except for the southern GulfIslands, island schools also belong to off-island school districts with very different prioritiesand problems than island schools. The Islands Trust itself is compromised by the fact thatit is funded largely by the provincial government, rather than by local taxes: since much ofthe islands’ land area is owned by forest companies, and timber revenue is a crucial sourceof provincial income, for example, Trust objections to industrial-scale logging cannot beenforced.7in favour of identity as a Gulf Islander. Entering Gulf Islands space means crossing thebeach into nature.4This tendency does not reflect a persistent imperial interest in the islands, but ratherresults from the great influence of nineteenth-century English adventure fiction on thosewho visit, emigrate to, and write about the Gulf Islands. The ability to use these fictions asinterpretive frames for making sense of a place depends upon the degree to which theislands can be perceived as “natural” space, as undisturbed, that is, by previous imperialactivity. From the perspective of English culture--that of a small, heavily populated island,settled for thousands of years--untouched, pristine nature, which is to say wilderness, is notthe significant factor in identifririg that space: rather, the crucial criteria of this “natural’tspace are the absence of previous texts and the absence of settlement. Neither are theserequirements absolute, however, since what is necessary is apparent or perceived absence.Apparent absence permits the imaginative colonization of Gulf Island space; it also permitsthe emigrant an illusion of priority that naturalizes all evidence to the contrary. Therhetorical vehicle by which this naturalization occurs is the pastoral mode, through whichevidence of settlement can be stripped of its colonial implications and made to read asuncolonized “nature.”This dissertation demonstrates the rhetorical processes that operate in the GulfIslands to make that place a separate region. I use the term “rhetoric” to indicate the‘ Greg Dening uses the island beach as a metaphor for inversion of the imperial projectof colonization in the Marquesas in the South Pacific. For Dening, to cross the beach is tocross the cultural boundary from the colonizing power to the colonized place: thecolonizer abandons the imperial project--to recreate in a new place the society left behind-and divests himself of his original culture in favour of identifying himself entirely with theculture of the new place.8language, imagery, and intertextual references by which Gulf Islands writing demonstratesa particular ideology of the local. My thesis rests on the principle that the islands aregenerally defined as “natural” space, in contrast to the places--variously perceived as not-natural--against which the Gulf Island region distinguishes itself.5 As a concept by whichthe Gulf Islands are defined, “nature” consists of one pole of a juxtaposition with anThe Islands Trust implicitly rests upon this notion of the islands as natural space: itis primarily this characteristic that the Trust is intended to promote and maintain. Amongthe first steps taken by the Trust after its formation in 1975 was the compilation of acomprehensive “Natural Areas Study,” a key Trust document that identifies the naturalamenities of the individual islands and ranks them according to their vulnerability andvalue.The term “Islands Trust” announces an inherently conservative, and conservationist,ideology: the Trust’s motto--”to preserve and protect”--resonates with the familiar lawenforcement motto “to serve and protect.” In 1988, a group of volunteers assembled abook, Islands in Trust that supports and describes the influence of the Trust on theindividual islands in the Trust Area: in the summer of 1991, many of the same volunteersbegan a periodical to serve the Trust Area and promote the Trust. The title of theperiodical--The Gulf Islands Guardian--reiterates the notion of protection that the term“Islands Trust” connotes. Islanders opposed to the Trust’s capacity to regulate land useperceive in the Trust a program of imposing conservationist values on the islands andenforcing those values through control of bylaws and zoning regulations. In 1993, adisaffected Pender Island resident launched a periodical (which ran for only a few issues)called “The Liberator” as a vehicle for voicing opposition to the Trust: the rhetoricalfunction of “liberator” as opposed to the regulatory, inhibiting connotations of “trust”codifies the polarity over how “nature” is interpreted in the islands. The Liberator’sviewpoint perceived “nature” in the context of frontier ethics, as freedom from restraint andgovernment interference.As if this polarization were not enough to make the Trust’s role difficult, theunspoken context of the notion of “nature” and of initiatives such as the “Natural AreasStudy” is that “nature” is perceived by the provincial government, the source of the Trust’smandate and funding, as primarily a recreational resource. The Islands Trust Acts of 1975and 1989 give the Trust the task of overseeing land use in the islands not only in theinterests of islanders but in the interests of all other residents of the province also. Insetting up the Trust in this fashion, the provincial government codified the idea that theislands’ main function was as a playground for the rest of the province: needless to say,the interests of recreational users of Gulf Island nature conflict profoundly with theinterests of residents, who resent the increased noise, pressure on ferry transportation,traffic on island roads, and harvest of fish and shellfish that visitors entail.9undesirable state from which the islands represent an escape. For the most part, that stateis characterized as urban, developed, sophisticated, crowded, noisy, dangerous, artificial,alienating and rigidly codified in its social structures and economic order. The “nature”that the Gulf Islands offer, by contrast, has a visible, quantifiable aspect because itstopography and indigenous, wild flora and fauna remain undisturbed by human presence inthe landscape. To the degree that this undisturbed state is perceived, that state eliminatesthe perception of human presence also. The term “pastoral” participates in a similarlysubjective range of interpretations. I use the word “pastoral” here both to indicate a seriesof constructions of local nature as intrinsically beneficent and to signal the rhetorical meansby which even very obvious human manipulation of the landscape can be naturalized,subsumed, that is, into an overarching perception of the islands as “natural” in the sense Ihave suggested. The nostalgic connotations of the pastoral mode, furthermore, permit aforeign space--as the islands must be to immigrants--to be “recognized” as home, a crucialelement in the neocolonial rhetoric that operates locally.The identification of Gulf Island space with nature is so pervasive as to seeminvisible; it penetrates statements--both verbal and non-verbal--about local identity to anoverwhelming degree. I have assumed, however, that such an equation is not inevitable--not a product of some intrinsic characteristic of Gulf Island topography--but a constructthat enables people to claim a personal connection to this place. In order to understandwhy such claims might be required or desired, it must be recognized that the population ofthe Gulf Islands grew by more than 25% in the five years between the 1986 and 1991census counts, a figure that the Islands Trust states is “among the fastest growing in10Canada.”6 Even though the enormous scale of development that increased the number oflots--and hence potential population--exponentially in the early 1 970s has been curbed bythe Islands Trust, many thousands of those lots remain undeveloped more than two decadeslater. The rate of building on those lots has been steady, however, and continues toincrease: since the creation of a subdivision in the islands usually means little change inthe actual topography, other than the building of roads and a proliferation of surveyor’stape, it is easy to read subdivided land as “natural,” since it is usually covered with second-growth forest and appears to be undisturbed. As soon as a lot is cleared for building,however, that topographical statement of “nature” is profoundly compromised.In realizing their ambition to move to the Gulf Islands and into “nature,” immigrantsto the islands find themselves resented for disturbing the appearance of “nature” that theirpredecessors have assumed to be inviolate. Once this repeated chronology of arrival anddisturbance begins, the notion of priority inevitably dominates the rhetoric of local identity.Needless to say, issues of land use and land tenure dominate island politics, and thosepolitics penetrate every aspect of community life. To be able to discuss the genealogy ofland tenure becomes the mark of a local, that is, indigenous person: but acquiring that6 The Islands Trust used this information in a flyer (“Framing Our Common Future”)sent to all Trust Area residents in 1992 when the newly-appointed Minister for MunicipalAffairs required the Trust to form a policy statement to apply to the whole Trust Area.The flyer invited island residents to attend public forums intended to gather local viewsabout the future of the Trust Area. The flyer was unusual in that it addressed not theconcerns of individual islands but focussed instead on the entire area served by the Trust:responses to the proposed policy statement varied widely from one island to another. OnGabriola, islanders were suspicious of the entire process, which they viewed as costly,redundant, and an attempt to divert attention from the pressing issue on the island: theanticipated sale of much of the island’s area by Weldwood of Canada. The Gabriolaversion of the public forums suggested that islanders had little sympathy for the idea of aGulf Islands region, at least as that idea is represented by the scope of the Islands Trust.11knowledge requires losing the sensation of living in a natural, unclaimed place. Thisgenealogy, however, remains a subject for conversation,7a way to position oneself, face toface, with neighbours and other islanders, rather than entering into written representationsof the islands. In writing, the rhetoric of belonging shifts radically back to constructions ofthe Gulf Islands as natural.The pressure of increasing population makes the rhetoric of belonging a cruciallyimportant factor in being comfortable, at home, in the islands, both for recent immigrantsand for those who came earlier but feel themselves competing for space--both physical anddiscursive--with more recent arrivals. The fact of immigration explains why the two mostpersistent tropes in that rhetoric of belonging have been “discovery” and “settlement,” both‘ Cole Hams mentions the importance of conversational material in “The EmotionalStructure of Canadian Regionalism” (1981):Even today, genealogical conversation is a Maritime staple, areflection of communities whose people have known each otherthrough the generations. In the West such conversation is rarer forthe local texture has been different, having less of custom and thegenerations and more of movement, technology, markets, andmemories of other places. (16-17)The topics of Western conversation that Harris identifies are strikingly absent in the GulfIslands, where genealogies of land tenure, rather than of people, reflect local notions of“community.”I have interpreted “local” writing to mean not only that produced by residents butthat of visitors to the islands also. I do not distinguish between insider and outsider viewsof the islands, primarily because I have found many more points of similarity than contrastbetween the two. Visitors often appeal to the islands as “home,” thus invoking a variationof the settlement trope, while islanders even more often speak and behave like tourists,using an iconography of sunsets and beaches, for example, to refer to their home islands, asif writing postcards. The notion of a common cultural and literary landscape binding theGulf Islands into a region must thus include, in my view, the perspective of those who donot live there. The mandate of the Islands Trust, to preserve and protect the islands notonly for residents but also for all British Columbians, sets a precedent for including inconstruction of the region views of the islands from elsewhere.12of which rest on the notion that upon arrival in the islands, the immigrant engages with anatural landscape unmediated by previous arrivals. Paradoxically, however, these tropesalso dominate visitors’ descriptions of the islands, who have as much--perhaps more--of aninvestment as island residents in perceiving the islands as natural. The tropes thus functionas statements of origins and as claims to authentic Gulf Island experience. As elements incolonial narrative, both iropes require identification of the islands as “natural” space, since“discovery” describes initial recognition of a new landscape, while “settlement” similarlyrecords the act of being the first to inhabit that landscape. Both of these terms investheavily in the notion of priority, and in the Gulf Islands they retain the colonialimplications that such priority is the principal, perhaps only, grounds on which a claim topossession of land can be made. In the islands, where such claims are the moral basis oflocal politics of belonging, these terms carry enormous rhetorical weight.In the context of Canadian literature, the trope of “discovery” as frame for bothlandscape representation and narrative has received a great deal of critical attention.Studies such as Frank Davey’s article on the explorer figure and Linda Hutcheon’s analysisof historiographic metafiction examine the strong tendency in western Canadian fiction torecover and reread tropes of discovery and exploration as sites of engagement withlandscape and identity. Both Ian McLaren and T.D. McLulich have discussed the trope asa literary convention (particularly the variations on the persona of the explorer ordiscoverer) in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century exploration narratives in the Canadianwest and north. Graham Huggan’s analysis of maps and mapmaking tropes in Canadianand Australian fiction examine another variant on the discovery trope. Maria Tippett and13Douglas Cole have traced the influence of British coastal explorers on representations ofthe British Columbia coast landscape. Since the Gulf Islands are not recorded in anyEnglish exploration narrative as the genre is understood by these commentators, the use ofthe discovery trope in the islands does not refer to local historical fact.Mary Louise Pratt considers the discovery trope to be a particularly Victorianinvention for articulating imperial engagement with a new landscape. Rather than thetaxonornic procedures used by followers of Linnaeus, or what Pratt calls “the poetics ofscience” used by those travellers who emulated Alexander von Humboldt, the Victorians,she says, “opted for a brand of verbal painting whose highest calling was to produce forthe home audience the peak moments at which geographical ‘discoveries’ were ‘won’ forEngland” (Imperial Eyes, 201). Since the Gulf Islands did not receive attention fromEnglish imperial travellers (namely the Royal Navy) until the mid-nineteenth century, thedominance of the discovery trope in representations of the islands is not surprising. Prattperceives three separate conventions operating in the English version of “discovery”: thetraveller aestheticizes the landscape, seeks “density of meaning” in that landscape, andestablishes “a relation of mastery between seer and seen” (202). Despite the reduction ofthe trope to a much simplified, less directly imperial version in Gulf Island writing, thesame conventions apply. The ultimate purpose of those conventions, however, is quitedifferent in the Gulf Islands.By contrast, as opposed to “nature,” “wilderness,” or “the land”, “settlement” is nota term that has much currency in Canadian criticism, much less on the coast. In the UnitedStates, the connection between “settlement” and the west was firmly codified in the14discourse of the “frontier”: in Canada, however, that discourse did not operate (or operatedon a much reduced scale). As a trope in Canadian literature, settlement is identifiedpredominantly with the prairies, the landscape that corresponds most directly to the notionof “the land” upon which the American frontier thesis rests. To speak, therefore, of“settlement” on the coast--a place identified in both popular and literary consciousness withsea rather than land--is to disrupt a convention of the notion of literary regions in Canadaso automatic as to seem inevitable. The trope of “settlement” has very little valence on theCanadian west coast, and has received little if any attention either in coastal literature or incriticism of that literature. In examining that trope in the Gulf Islands context, I follow notCanadian critical models but the example of Paul Carter’s assessment of how the settlementtrope functions in the spatial history of Australia.With regard to both tropes, I am aware that my approach bypasses complex issuesof power and privilege that the tropes “discoveryt’and “settlement” often embody. In thecase of the Gulf Islands, the imperial structures to which the tropes allude have little localsignificance. This is not to say that European displacement of indigenous peoples nolonger occurs in the islands, quite the reverse. But the rhetoric of Gulf Islands ideology isnot primarily directed toward justifying that displacement: rather, the discourse thatinvokes tropes of settlement and discovery concerns the competing claims of Europeanpresence in the region.Tracing the use of discovery and settlement tropes in Gulf Island representationsforms a core around which I have structured the dissertation. To investigation of thosetropes as vehicles for identifying with the local, I have added analysis of representative15narratives also intended to make that identification. In addition to the pastoral mode andtropes of discovery and settlement, I have found that certain kinds of narratives are used inthe islands to make the same statements of authenticity. In this study, the term “narrative”refers to a local version of story-telling, in which exemplary stories are used both to defineand to claim indigenousness. These stories are limited in scale, lacking developed plotsand characters, and thus resemble anecdotes rather than literary texts. Nearly allimaginative writing about the islands--and much non-fiction also--uses some variation ofthe sketch, a form associated with colonial culture: in the islands, sketches are used in theplace of declarative statements to illustrate the character of the local place, just asanecdotes illustrate a person’s character more efficiently than description in biography.Furthermore, the telling of local stories in itself constitutes indigenousness: localconventions of narration--conventions both of subject and of form--confer authenticity onthose who use them.My study thus combines analysis of foundational tropes suggested by The Road toBotany Bay (1987), Paul Carter’s spatial history of Australia, with William Cronon’sinsistence on the connections between narrative and place in writing history, principles thathe describes in “Nature, History, and Narrative” (1992) and illustrates in his history ofChicago’s relation to its hinterland, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West(1991). The central portion of the thesis thus concentrates on settlement and discoverytropes and on narrative: despite my methodological models’ being historical, however, thestructure of the thesis is not deliberately or strictly chronological. Having discussed thesethree local rhetorical modes in Chapters Three, Four, and Five, I then devote three further16tropes and on narrative: despite my methodological models? being historical, however, thestructure of the thesis is not deliberately or strictly chronological. Having discussed thesethree local rhetorical modes in Chapters Three, Four, and Five, I then devote three furtherchapters to discussing them again. Doubling the central chapters illustrates that the notionof a history of the Gulf Islands as a rhetorical construct is problematic since, rather thanconstituting a series of changes, whose development can be traced as a logical sequence,the rhetoric of the local endlessly replicates foundational tropes of beginning. Variationsdo occur over time, as in response to the environmental politics of the late twentiethcentury, for example, but the variations pale in comparison to the remarkable persistence ofthe basic tropes. The chronology that is implied in considering the two tropes--discoveryand settlement--together does not obtain in the islands, because neither is used locally toinitiate a sequence, but rather to identify and arrest a specific moment that in itselfencapsulates experience of the local. Narratives of encounters with Gulf Island topographyare similarly consistent. Chapter Four discusses how the pastoral as a rhetorical modeoverwhelmingly dictates both form and plot of Gulf Island narratives, while Chapter Eightdemonstrates what happens to local narrative conventions when actual experience in theGulf Islands radically transgresses those conventions. Like the double chapters on tropes,however, the discussion of Gulf Island gothic in Chapter Eight further demonstrates theprofound degree to which pastoral is considered the only appropriate narrative frame forthe islands.The scholarly literature on the pastoral is extensive, and the modes in which theterm is applied virtually endless. William Empson’s Some Versions of Pastoral (1935)17demonstrates how diverse both the manifestations of pastoral and its implications can be,and uses Marxist analysis to show how pastoral is invoked in literature to articulate powerrelations between social classes in England. Sixty years on, Lisa Robertson, writing in aCanadian context, describes pastoral as “the nation-making genre”: “within a hothouselanguage we force the myth of the Land to act as both political resource and mystic origin”(95). She states that pastoral utopias “efficiently aestheticize and naturalize the politicalpractices of genocide, misogyny, and class and race oppressions” (95). My discussion doesnot find the pastoral operating directly in any of Ernpson’s versions, or in Robertson’s, butthe Gulf Islands pastoral, in all j varieties clearly has a political function. In general, theidentification of the islands as pastoral utopias is common to all representations of theislands (always remembering that the views of the Salish do not form part of the debate):what is at issue is in which aspect of the islands and Gulf Island culture that utopiancharacter resides.88 In Canada, the pastoral is widely perceived as irrelevent--even grossly misleading--asa frame for interpreting the Canadian landscape. In his 1943 review of A.J.M. Smith’santhology of Canadian poetry, Northrop Frye applauds what he perceives as “very littleTarzanism in Canadian poetry.” He finds that “few really good Canadian poets havethough that getting out of cities into God’s great outdoors really brings one closer to thesources of inspiration” (209). Frye’s repudiation of nature as a source of literary inspirationconstitutes a rejection of a major variation of the literary pastoral. Gaile McGregorsuggests in The Wacousta Syndrome (1985) that pastoral has no place in representations ofthe Canadian landscape. To use the pastoral, in her view, is fundamentally to misrepresentthe inherent character of that landscape. McGregor’s position parallels Frye’s, who finds inSmith’s anthology proof that “the outstanding achievement of Canadian poetry is theevocation of stark terror,” the “immediate source” of which “is obviously the frighteningloneliness of a huge and thinly settled country” (209). As will become clear in mydissertation, the Gulf Islands have never been perceived as “a huge and thinly settledcountry,” quite the opposite. Despite scholarly challenges to both Frye’s and McGregor’stheses, critical studies devoted specifically to pastoral in the Canadian landscape, or thelandscape of any region in Canada, are noticeably absent. Margaret Atwood’s Survival: AThematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972) has had an enormous influence in18function as a frame for engagement with the natural landscape. The pastoral, he explains,values heroic efforts both to control the landscape and to escape all social relationships.Meeker believes that both projects are doomed to failure, and pastoral then treats thelandscape destroyed in its name as the noble ruins of a great endeavour. As Meeker pointsout, the implications of this great endeavour for the integrity of nature and the naturallandscape are catastrophic: he locates in pastoral assumptions about appropriate relationsbetween humans and the non-human world that destroy both social relations and the naturalworld. Given that the two aims of pastoral as identified by Meeker can be readilyobserved operating in the Gulf Islands, albeit on a limited scale, the implications of thepastoral for the local are alarming.The current study, however, is not intended as a critique of Gulf Islands ideologybut as a study in the relationship between the landscape and writing of a particular place. Iuse the term “Gulf Island writing” throughout the dissertation as a deliberate alternative tothe expression “Gulf Island literature.” I include in the notion of “writing” other modes ofexpression than the purely verbal, particularly architecture. As I discuss in the conclusion,the term “literature” misrepresents the character of nearly all representations of the islands,since the Gulf Island aesthetic generally rejects the conventions of high art. The absenceof most of the imaginative writing about the Gulf Islands from this dissertation maynonetheless seem strange. One crucial convention of Gulf Islands writing, however, is thata literary landscape, considered in the sense of a collective identification of a particularplace or topography with a particular author or literary work, cannot be said to exist in theislands. It would not have been possible, for instance, to structure this dissertation as19Frederick Turner does his book Spirit of Place: The Making of an American LiteraryLandscape (1989). In that book, Turner visits places associated in the collective Americanconsciousness with individual authors who have ‘made” those places by writing about themin literary works, specifically novels. In the Gulf Islands, by contrast, local histories andautobiographical cruising narratives overwhelmingly displace imaginative writing (by whichI mean canonical literary genres) as the means of assigning significance to the landscape.Setting the Canadian context against the American, Eli Mandel refers to Robert Kroetsch’sview of “regional writing not as a matter of place so much as a matter of what he calls‘voice.” Mandel prefers this shift in focus because it “moves us from mere landscape art tosomething else in writing, something closer to the shared assumptions of a region,something carried in the folk culture, or the unofficial culture rather than in literarytraditions as such” (“The Regional Novel,” 110). This “something” is the subject of mystudy of Gulf Island writing.In attempting to locate that “something,” I based my methodology primarily onPrairyerth (1991), William Least Heat Moon’s “deep map” of the Flint Hills in Michigan,his own place of origin. The notion of the deep map requires repeated journeys throughlocal territory, at different times of the day and year, through shifting light and weather,taking different angles and paths through the familiar landscape until it acquires acomplexity and texture that makes intimacy with it as intoxicating as encountering an alienland. This process describes not only movement through the landscape, but, as Least HeatMoon demonstrates, through its history, legends, language, prejudices, economics, food,literature--its culture, in short. Clifford Geertz uses the term “thick description” to describe20the anthropologist’s version of this approach. I have used Least Heat Moon’s model toapproach the Gulf Islands through a kind of triangulation of local rhetoric: changing theangle through which I view the textual landscape and passing through it more than oncegives me a clearer view of the relationship between the points I perceive. The two studiesthat most closely resemble my own in the Canadian context are Gerard L. Pocius’ book .Place to Belong: Community Order and Everyday Space in Calvert, Newfoundland (1992)and David M. Rayside’s A Small Town in Modern Times: Alexandria, Ontario (1992):while I perceive in Gulf Islands writing many of the same elements Pocius discusses(belonging, community, domesticated space), Rayside’s illumination of the gap between acommunity’s self-identity and the reality of its dynamics also resonates with elements ofGulf Island ideology. The extremely local, rural focus of these two studies offers aprecedent for my own work, though neither is specifically concerned with representationsof place in writing. Comparison with Pocius and Rayside, however, also raises asignificant point of difference between their studies and my own: I have chosen not to useas primary sources oral testimony or my own observation of local rhetoric in use atcommunity meetings, on the ferries, at dances and other social events, in conversationsoverheard in pubs and restaurants, or exchanges I have had with island business owners, togive some examples of encounters that have illustrated for me many of the processes Idescribe in this dissertation. Instead, I confine myself to printed materials and, in the caseof Chapter Six, to physical structures. In the absence of other scholarly investigations ofGulf Islands writing, I felt it was important that the primary materials discussed in thisstudy be readily accessible to anyone who wishes veriu’ those materials or challenge my21interpretation of them.9Like Prairyerth, the dissertation is a palimpsest rather than a chronology.’0Prairverth is by no means a history of the Flint Hills, but the history of the place resides inthe book: in the book’s structure, chronology gives way to the region’s key spatialarrangements of county grid and watershed. Like Least Heat Moon, and like Carter in hisAlso, I wanted to avoid writing from an anthropological standpoint, since my ownposition as a scholar is inevitably complicated by my being a resident of the islands. Thisstudy is the indirect result of many childhood summers on family property on NorthPender, and of renting, with my husband, homes on Galiano and Mayne for severalmonths. After years in Québec and Ontario, we came back to the west coast, finallybuying a home on Gabriola in 1991. In 1994, having decided that Gabriola was not a“real” Gulf Island (by virtue of its increasingly suburban relationship to Nanaimo), wemoved to Thetis Island. These five are the islands I know best, but I have also visitedGambier, Bowen, Salt Spring, Denman, and Hornby. My acquaintance with the islands isclearly by no means complete, and my own viewpoint has often been that of the touristrather than the resident. But the notion of the islands as the site of my “field work” (whichan anthropological approach would imply) from which I would return to the academy, doesnot accommodate the fact that the islands are also my home.My entirely personal assessment of the limitations of Gabriola is an example of myown engagement with this project: I am motivated in this study by the same impulsetoward definition of the islands that I discern in the primary material I analyse. Mymotivation is similarly political: I share the conservationist standpoint represented by theTrust, whatever my reservations about its actual practice. To a large extent, I have tried tokeep my own biases out of this study, primarily because in Canada, as opposed to thewestern United States, the personal essay is not regarded as an appropriate mode forscholarly studies of landscape and literature (to use both terms broadly). In order not toedit myself out of the project entirely, I have used footnotes to include my own experiencein the main line of argument.10 This dissertation resembles PrairyErth further in that it echoes Least Heat Moon’spractice of prefacing each chapter in that book with a substantial group of epigraphs. LeastHeat Moon describes his epigraphs as extracts “from the commonplace book”: the idea ofa commonplace book informs several Gulf Islands works, also, as I mention in myconclusion. The epigraphs for each chapter of the dissertation are arranged in a sequencethat loosely sketches the line of argument in that chapter. In that they stitch togetherscraps of scholarly commentary and local writing, the epigraphs resemble a patchworkquilt, another key Gulf Islands image. A Gulf Islands Patchwork (1962) is the best-knownlocal history of the islands, and arguably the most highly disseminated source of “GulfIslands” among the works I discuss.22account of Australia, Cronon makes spatial relationships--specifically the polarity betweenan urban centre and its hinterland--the fundamental fact of Chicago’s identity. Despite theiremphasis on space, all three writers treat local history as a source of insight into thecoordinates of local identity. Local history is the means by which people who considerthemselves indigenous to a place tell themselves the stories in which that indigenousnessoriginates. All three of these cultural historians find in local histories rhetorical strategiesintended to invest those spatial relationships with historical inevitability. Echoing the wayin which Cronon, Carter, and Heat Moon articulate the relation between space and history,I devote my first two chapters to these two notions, considering the idea of the Gulf Islandsas a region in Chapter One and how that region is defined in local history in Chapter Two.Chapters Nine and Ten present a final set of paired chapters, both concerned withhow intertextual references contribute to constructions of the Gulf Islands as a distinctregion, but approaching the idea of local intertexts from two very different perspectives.Chapter Nine assesses how completely Gulf Island texts conventionally ignore one another,except for guide books--which are usually written by people who do not live locally--whichconsistently borrow material from local non-imaginative writing, especially local histories.”The category containing the greatest number of Gulf Island books is guide books, aform that most directly disseminates and reflects popular constructions of the islandsbecause its readership is so widespread. I do not include the form in this study, however,except incidentally, because they very seldom use original material, relying instead on othersources of information about the islands: previous guide books, local histories,anthropological and archaeological works, sailing directions, eighteenth-century explorationnarratives, and field guides. The guide book form, moreover, cannot be considered a localcharacteristic: most guide books belong to series in which the same structure is used nomatter what the place being described: the local tends not to influence how guide booksare written. Very few guide books refer only to the Gulf Islands: most include the islandswith other areas: generally Vancouver, the San Juan Islands, Victoria, or VancouverIsland. Similarly, very few can be considered guide books in a pure sense: most consider23This absence of local intertextual references stems from the same impulse--the need toignore previous activity (or in this case previous texts) in order to claim priority--thatmakes discovery and settlement such attractive tropes. Chapter Ten demonstrates that theabsence of local mtertexts accompanies the heavy use of literary intertexts from outside theregion, especially nineteenth-century English novels of adventure that use islands as sites ofnarrative escape and transformation. It is a peculiarly local practice, also, to quote not theactual literary text referred to but a cultural memory--partial, selective, often erroneous--ofthat text.Finally, I argue in my conclusion that the characteristics of Gulf Island writing (andarchitecture) that I have discussed--including tropes of discovery and settlement, pastoralnarrative frames, the sketch medium, the “craft” aesthetic--all demonstrate a desire tointerpret island culture and identity as fundamentally natural. At this point, topographybecomes secondary to the consequences of rhetorical constructions by which thattopography has been described. The consequence for the region’s writing is an anti-literarybias that defines the region by deliberately rejecting high culture in representing thatregion. To have structured my analysis as a study of the “literature” of the islands wouldthus not only have required making an arbitrary distinction between literary and unliterarywriting but would have profoundly misrepresented a fundamental code of the region’srepresentation. Casual references are often made to the islands as places, eitherindividually or collectively, that support a “community” of published, literary writers, butindividual writers--such as Jane Rule--deny that such a community exists, or that it wouldthe islands from the point of few of one or another forms of recreational travel: kayaking,cruising, hiking, bicycling, diving, or (in one case) pubbing.24be welcome if it did exist.’2 Writers1 groups abound in the islands, but these are almostinvariably the sphere of amateur, untrained writers, the point being that writing isconsidered a craft that any islander feels free to try, rather than an elite art whose practiceseparates writers from the rest of the Gulf Island population. In the islands, local culturehas made the choice to reject elitism and define itself by a deliberately rustic,unsophisticated, and formulaic aesthetic.The nostalgia for indigenous culture that such an aesthetic attempts to satisfyautomatically makes much of the critical theory that currently dominates literary criticisminappropriate for this particular place. In particular, a region that defines itself soadamantly through neo-colonial rhetorical strategies does not lend itself to analysis througha postcolonial perspective. As opposed to literature relating to other parts of BritishColumbia, Gulf Island writing is anomalous in that it almost entirely ignores references toFirst Nations, autochthonous presence in the region as a means of connecting to orinterpreting that space, or of producing an “authentic” literature of that region. Thequestion of appropriation of voice, a key issue of postcolonial criticism, does not ariselocally. The avoidance of First Nations inhabitation of the islands by Europeans is not the12 In her 1981 essay on the notion of “community” on Galiano (“Stumps”), Rulerepudiates the notion that the island’s writers (or any other category of islanders) fonn a“community”:When the CBC tried to do a program suggesting that we are turning into aiartists’ colony, everyone scoffed, including the people interviewed. Becausethere are a number of independent women living here, rumor in the SanFrancisco bars has it that this island is about to be renamed Lesbos. If Iever did find myself in an artists’ colony or lesbian community, I’d move.(187)25subject of my study but rather one of its findings, a feature of local rhetoric.Perceptions of the Gulf Island landscape as unoccupied originate in patterns of landuse practised by the Halkornelem, a Salish people, in whose territory the islands lie. Theindividual groups speaking the Halkomelem language (Pentlatch, Sechelt, Squamish,Halkomelem, and Straits) define their territories as stretching east/west from VancouverIsland across Georgia Strait and the islands and many miles into the interior of themainland. The annual cycle of food gathering and ritual involved movement from one sideof the Strait to the other: the Gulf Islands were not the site of permanent villages butrather temporary, summer places for gathering roots and berries and fishing in the passesbetween the islands. Their presence in the islands, therefore, was more intermittent than inother parts of the province.13 The physical traces of their presence are also much lessvisible than on other parts of the coast, especially the northern territories of the Haida andKwakiutl. Salish material culture tended not to use the huge trees of the rainforest (notreadily available here in any case) for totems and massive longhouses, so the greatshoreline villages of the north coast were never a part of the Gulf Island landscape.Neither did the Salish develop a visual aesthetic of wooden masks and other permanentartifacts:’4 their culture rather flourished in fibre--Salish weaving and Cowichan sweaters13 In Maps and Dreams (1981), Hugh Brody has shown that Europeans tend toconsider First Nations peoples’ seasonal, intermittent use of land--especially for hunting andgathering--rather than permanent settlement to invalidate their right to claim that land.‘ In Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast (1979), Hilary Stewart confirms thatunlike the culture groups on the north coast, the Salish have no tradition of pole art, andlittle in the way of carving in wood on a large scale. According to Stewart, the finestwood carving among the Salish was confined to animals depicted on spindle whorls, a formthat underscores the importance of fiber, centring on the weaving technique the Salishdeveloped that uses a two-bar loom, to Salish art forms. The Salish have also made much26(the latter a post-contact development) being the best-known modern survivals of thoseskills--which not only deteriorates much more quickly than wood but does not commandthe same presence, to European eyes, as ritual objects from farther north.The only residual evidence of Salish culture in the island landscape consists of theintensely white clamshell beaches and the shell-flecked ash soil of their middens at thewater’s edge, and petroglyphs carved in sandstone. Both are easily overlooked, the shellbeaches and middens simply because they appear to be naturally occurring, if they registeron non-indigenous consciousness at all, and the petroglyphs because they are ofteninaccessible, often hidden beneath thick layers of moss, and soon eroded when exposed tothe elements. Crucially, too, even when petroglyph images are found and recorded bywhite immigrants to the region, they cannot be resolved into recognizable icons, much lesslinked to an oral culture that tells stories about the images. Salish legends of the locallandscape have been collected, just as other aspects of Salish culture have been subjected toanthropological study, but the link between verbal and visual narratives that operates sodirectly elsewhere on the coast does not exist here. Local bands state that they themselvescannot interpret the petroglyphs beyond recognizing them as sacred images. 15less use of painted two-dimensional art than other indigenous coastal cultures.15 In late June 1992, an elder from the Nanaimo Band gave a talk to Gabriola Islandersabout the petroglyphs on the island: the audience--entirely non-First Nations--had expectedto be shown the petroglyphs and to have the images explained to them. Instead, the elderdid not leave the parking lot where interested people had been told to gather, and hisdiscussion of the petroglyphs consisted not of exegesis but of a plea for help in protectingthe glyphs from vandalism (from both individuals and from land development) and anexplanation of the spiritual importance of the petroglyphs to the band. By contrast, in the1993 book They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings in the SteinRiver Valley of British Columbia, Annie York, a First Nations elder, explains theiconography of individual images.27In consequence of this absence of physical and textual presence in the Gulf Islandlandscape, it is not difficult to perceive the landscape as previously uninhabited, even byindigenous peoples. The practice of “quoting” First Nations culture that so deeplycharacterizes non-indigenous regional writing on the British Columbia coast cannot obtainin the islands because to European eyes, very little of that culture is available to be quoted.Reference to autochthonous experience of local space is so rare that it cannot be said toplay a part in defining the local. The absence of the indigene makes a key aspect of post-colonial criticism--exposing and challenging colonial representations of indigenous peoples--irrelevant here. The scope of my dissertation--European constructions of Gulf Islandspace--thus omits Halkomelem versions of that space, not because they do not meritattention but because they do not influence the neo-colonial rhetorical strategies by whichimmigrants to the islands construct that space.16 Comparison of Salish with Europeanimmigrant spatial perceptions would constitute a quite different project from that which Iundertake here.In a place where immigration perpetuates colonial rhetorical strategies long after theimperial structures in which that rhetoric developed have ceased to operate, the term“Europeans” meaning non-autochthonous or not First Nations is problematic. For lack of amore efficient term, however, in this study I use the word “European” to mean everyone16 Especially rich scholarly sources of Halkomelem notions of Gulf Islands space areWayne Suttles’ Coast Salish Essays (1987) and David Lewis Rozen’s thesis Place-Names ofthe Island Halkomelem Indian People (1985). Testimony collected by the ComprehensiveClaims Branch of Indian and Northern Affairs for the purpose of settling local land claimsalso suggests how the Salish perceived their territories. See, for example, DorothyKennedy and Randy Bouchard, “Traditional Territorial Boundaries of the Saanich Indians”(1991).28except the First Nations culture groups who consider the islands to fall within theirtraditional territories. Nearly all residents of--and most visitors to--the Gulf Islands are ofEuropean descent, though they often emigrate to the islands from other places in NorthAmerica: despite the strong Asian presence in surrounding urban centres, especiallyVancouver, people of non-white racial backgrounds rarely live in the islands.’7 Marie AnneElliott has described the Japanese-Canadian population which farmed very successfully onMayne before the Second World War, a piece of racial history that Jane Rule incorporatesinto her novel After the Fire (1989). The presence of several black families among thefirst settlers on Salt Spring in the 1 850s, has also been described in local histories, but inboth cases, it is questionable whether these exceptions to the European social landscape inthe islands have had much effect on collective notions of the islands as a region. Irecognize that my decision to use only print materials in this study gives disproportionateweight to certain groups of people in the islands, particularly those of white, wealthy,English, middle- and upper-class backgrounds. Using print materials alone, it is easy toform the impression that the islands, at least until the Second World War, were populated17 In a curious local anomaly, representation of “Gulf Island,” especially in architectureand in other visual art, often incorporates an Asian aesthetic, or rather, an aesthetic basedin Western notions of what that aesthetic might be. In his watercolours of the Gulf Islands(among other coastal places), for example, Toni Onley refers consciously to Chinese andJapanese practices (see Toni Onley: A Silent Thunder (1981)). The Hornby Islandwoodbutcher style of architecture sometimes incorporates Japanese motifs into itsstatements of the local. Such references are rare in writing about the islands, though theydo occur: Jane Rule incorporates Japanese settlement in the islands in her novel After theFire (1989), while Lorna Crozier records Gulf Islands adoption of Japanese landscapevalues in her poem “Crossing Willow Bridge”:On the farm a willow bridgethough this is Saltspring islandnot Japan.29exclusively by this social group. I am well aware that such was not the case, and thisstudy is not intended to perpetuate the disenfranchisement of other “voices” in the islands.Since, however, my subject is the conventions of Gulf Islands writing, rather than whateverdistance there might be between those conventions and an external reality, the degree towhich those conventions perpetuate the notion of the islands as enclaves of expatriateBritish-ness is another of my findings. The apparently racially homogeneous population ofthe islands does not disturb--it rather reinforces--neo-colonial attitudes, and thus inhibits alocal version of postcolonial discourse.In the absence of genealogical claims, the immigrant to this place requires languageand narrative to demonstrate or claim local authenticity. The rhetorical constructs Iexamine in this study are intended to define local authenticity, and by extensionindigenousness. This dissertation is itself a survey, both in the literary sense of a broaddiscussion of selected texts belonging to a particular place and in the colonial sense ofmapping initial, arbitrary co-ordinates by which that place, as a textual construct, can beorganized and described. I have not been immune to the prevailing Gulf Islandpreoccupation with issues of authenticity and indigenousness: my preoccupation has beenas much to write an “authentically” Gulf Island work as it has been to observe thestandards and conventions of scholarly enquiry. Since the Gulf Islands have never beforereceived scholarly attention as a constructed or “written” region, the usual corpus ofscholarly criticism a dissertation both rests upon and challenges is missing in my case: inthe absence of critical apparatus upon or against which to articulate a critical position, Ihave tried to allow local texts themselves to suggest lines of enquiry, rather than to impose30on this highly local culture models of critical analysis borrowed from other places. Ratherthan codifying a regional literature, I intend this study to initiate a dialogue through whicha semiotics of Gulf Island can be discussed.The Anacortes-Sydney Run 31In my best dream I have crossed the borderand my coins are wrong. Without the tongueI gesture, sweat and wake aboard this boat.Ladies in their staterooms write bad poems--mountains in the distance evidence of God.Maps are hard to read. Two nations ownthese islands. The shade of green on onecould be Canadian, but firs and grebesare mine. The latest run of Springsare far too international to claim.Yet they use our rivers for their graves.The law protects the San Juans. No bilge here.Gulls still trail the ferry but go hungry.You can buy an island. In my worst dreamI am living here, contented and alone.That house is mine. The blue smoke risingmeans I’m cooking. Constant knock of watermeans I’m drunk, enjoying private jokesand bowing as the walls begin to roar.The Coast Guard breezes by my door.They haven’t stopped to chat in twenty years.In no dream I am standing on this deckadmiring the sheep on what turns outto be the final island before landing.I woke up dead among these islands-this boat chugging in a bad direction-the north I go, my wake already failing.Richard HugoChapter OneHome Waters: Gulf Island RegionsI had previously decided that most of my serious studies were going to beundertaken above latitude 52° in regions where I would encounter fewpeople and a great many more lfe forms, so this run off the east coast ofVancouver Island, while pleasant on a day like we were enjoying, wasnothing more than travel time, necessary miles that had to be covered beforewe reached the waters and coastline that really interested me.R.D. Lawrence, The Voyage of the Stella, 69Up to now for most US. boaters, the Guif Islands have been only aprotected alley in getting from Here to There. No more. This sensibly-organ ized book will make them a Destination.Walt Woodward, backcover blurb, Gunkholing in the Gulf IslandsPassing Porlier Pass, we caught a glimpse of the broad peaceful Gulf andalmost wished we were taking the outside passage, but the unlimited variety,the never ending wonder and delight of the scenery of these islands throughwhich we are now passing, more than compensates for the dfference.“A Landsman,””The Cruise of the Mineola,” 33We wandered through a maze of waterways where islands, or even wholegroups, suddenly detached themselves from a solid shoreline to confuse us.Then having thoroughly identified themselves as islands, they performed adisappearing trick by merging again with the green wooded shores when welooked for them astern to get a bearing.“This country leaps about so,” I protested.Kathrene Pinkerton, Three’s a Crew, 88The mainland seemed to loom threateningly against the horizon; the channelthey were crossing felt to Zoe in a state of disorder--lumpy islands strewnsloppily about, no rhyme or reason to their disposition among the waters ofHowe Sound; she could easily believe that they habitually changed their33positions, just to be perverse.L.R. Wright, A Chill Rain in January, 117You know where you are with an island. It is where you are, and nomistake. The water wraps you round and seals you off and everything elseis foreign territory.When I am standing on my porch looking out to sea and a visitor asks,“What that over there?”, I always answer, automatically, “Royal Head.”And the visitor says, ‘Wo, I don’t mean Royal Head I know Royal Head Imean over beyond that.” And I say, “Counter Point.” And the visitor says,“No, no, not there.” And I say, “Well, I guess it could be Ponkay or Sonder,they kind of run together.”Other people islands always do run together.Jean Howarth, Secrets the Island is KeeDing, 39Then the channels began to have some definite direction, and the islandssorted themselves out--the right ones standing forward bold and green; theothers retiring, dim and unwanted.M. Wylie Blanchet, The Curve of Time, 67Take a flat map, a globe in piano, and here is east and there is west asfar asunder as two points can be put. But reduce this flat map toroundness, which is the true form, and then east and west touch oneanother, and all are one. So consider man s lfe aright to be a circle.John Donne, Sermon XXVII, Folio of 1640Part One: Without the Tongue: Defining RegionSidney (48°39’N., ]23°24’W.) is a residential community which is also a ferryterminal used by the Washington State Ferries, operating to andfromAnacortes, Washington.Government of Canada, Sailing Directions: British Columbia Coast (South Portion), 117Richard Hugo’s “wrong” coins pun on the elusive cultural currency of region in the34Pacific Northwest, a particularly American concept of a space that links Oregon andWashington with Alaska, while paradoxically (or ambivalently) including and excludingCanadian space lying between. The notion of Pacific Northwest thus conceptually connectsthe northern uncontiguous state with its contiguous counterparts across the border. If acoast can destabilize these topographical and political barriers, the Gulf Islands--defined,divided, and challenged by coast-ness--constitute a region whose borders waver, whoselimits both proliferate and restrict.“The Anacortes-Sydney Run” hovers on the threshold of a region that includesneither of the places named in its title but lies between them. Like the poem, Hugo’svoyage crosses the border into a place where a notion of region obtains as other spatialdefinitions dissolve, that dissolution becoming a marker, a signpost the region. Thisapparent paradox mirrors a cluster of similarly contradictory elements in the poem: at thesame time that it speaks in the idiom of travel writing, of the literary gloss on quest andinsight that the genre demands, the poem also echoes a discourse of tourism, of reductionto characteristic images and conventional interpretations in which guidebooks are written.Against the self-reflexive meditation on the experience of foreignness that is the subject ofmuch travel writing, Hugo erects the endlessly-recurring structures of tourism. Theconfusion of available models for writing the foreign is exacerbated by the element ofhome-ness in this poem’s second stanza and--significantly--in its title: the word “run”suggests a familiar, regularly-repeated voyage whose very repetition reduces its route, thelandscape it traces, to domestic, prosaic space.In the first stanza, Hugo’s “best dream” requires foreign-ness, the terrifying yet35exhilarating dislocation that lack of language--lack of cultural currency--bestows on thetraveller. The region’s very inexplicability energizes Hugo: unlike the detached writerswho keep their eyes on distant mountains, finding there “evidence of God,” which theytranslate into “bad poems,” Hugo can only gesture and sweat. The writers in their cabinsignore the immediate landscape through which they travel, focussing instead on the distantprospect: this long view enables them to substitute literature for experience. The next line,“Maps are hard to read,” addresses the problem from another angle: cartography offers aslittle direction to this space as the literary conventions of the sublime. If region cannot beapprehended using literary landscape conventions, perhaps the border can fix the mind ondefinitions. But Hugo veers away from political abstraction into absurdity--ownership ofislands means as little as ownership of colour and entire species of wildlife. The omissionof definite articles indicates not specific individuals but the entire genus, the ja of firsand grebes. The salmon, whose “runs” echo the cycles of movement suggested by thepoem’s title, perhaps offer a salutary model of movement through this space: migration asa recurrent, oscillating pattern, rather than a single, imperial act.The “worst dream” confirms the inappropriateness of possession, rather than travelor tourism, as the grounds for regional identity: Hugo here touches on one of the majortropes of Gulf Island desires--the dream of owning an island, or at least a reasonablefacsimile of an entire island. Solitude and contentment, the core of the pastoral vision thatkeeps Gulf Island real estate and literary desires in motion, offer Hugo no convincing cuesto region. But this notion of indigenousness springs from ubiquitous, highly-simplifiedversions of island pastoral, the state of being-at-home interpreted through dim cultural36memories of tropical island seclusion, little different from the distant proofs of God inmountain vistas. The two sentences that follow, placed so that the verb “means” beginstwo lines in succession, invoke the guidebook and foreign language phrase book, in whichthe dictionary form mimics the field guide, a prosaic alternative to the means of landscaperepresentation offered by the language of the sublime. The reference to meaning suggeststhat the entire poem is about codes, signs, and definitions of place or region: the semioticimperative impels the poet’s frustrated attempts to find words.In the second stanza, Hugo invokes two versions of landscape perception, onevisual, the other aural. In the first, he turns the notion of indigene into a deflating imageof domesticity: the culturally-encoded “smoke signal” of European codes for NorthAmerican indigenous people, never appropriate to the Pacific Northwest in any case, is atourist’s notion of indigene, of unreadable, threatening signs of native, hostile presence andintent. As Hugo suggests, such signs, being so heavily encoded as to be familiar to thepoint of cliché, are thoroughly naturalized into the known, familiar territory of home. Inthe phrase “constant knock of water,” Hugo complicates the issue of indigenous languagestill further: his aural sign, the “knock” announcing presence at the threshold of domesticspace, is produced by water, the non-human background to the landscape. This sentenceresists interpretation until the codes are detached from expectations of landscape and thefixed, interior space of the previous sentence: constant knock of water and walls that beginto roar accompany the bowing--the rising angle of the bow--of a boat underway andpicking up speed. One interior space is exchanged for another. Hugo shifts the tenns ofplacement and context from island to house to boat until these environments merge,37blurring the boundaries that define them (each in terms of the other). Perspective is aproblem throughout the poem: the term “these islands” signifies being inside the region,including the islands in the same spatial range as “this boat” and “this deck” in the first andlast stanzas. The middle stanza turns viewpoint--the critical point of origin for landscapeappreciation--inside out: the “island” (singular) becomes centre (“I am living here”) whilethe direction “that house” makes life on the island peripheral, as is reiterated by the returnto the boat.In his complaint about the Coast Guard, Hugo equates the public institution ofcontrol and protection with its physical manifestation in the boat. The Coast Guard herestands for another definition of region: the territory and mandate--the scope, in short--of aregulating power. The very term “Coast Guard,” ambiguously joining two nouns, can beinterpreted in more than one way: “coast” can indicate only the locale of guardianship(itself an ambiguous term) but its very object. As Hugo says at the beginning of thestanza, “[tjhe law protects the San Juans.” Exactly the same notion of law obtains in theGulf Islands, where debate over land use and the resulting effects on landscape takes placewithin the structures of the Islands Trust, a term that structurally and semantically echoes“Coast Guard.” The tone of complaint about the Coast Guard’s indifference mirrors similarconflicts in the Gulf Islands about the mandate and responsiveness of the Trust to islandresidents.The third stanza returns to the paradigm of voyage rather than settlement, and to acluster of cultural, especially literary, connotations associated with the notion of voyage.“No dream” is clearly death, though Hugo puns here on the notion of wakefulness as38another state of not dreaming (“I woke up dead”). Here Hugo combines images of theStygian voyage with the pre-elninent image of pastoral--the admirable sheep. The lastsentence (the final three lines of the stanza) is even more enigmatic than the rest of thepoem, resisting syntactical as well as semantic analysis. Syntactical confusion culminatesin the penultimate phrase-- “the north I go”--inverting subject and object, making “go” atransitive verb, making the self its object, making north the agent of voyaging. Perhapsdeath is the final abstraction, the unchartable region--to conceive of “a bad direction” is toapply standards of morality and value to a concept (or concepts, death and direction)without moral valence. The sign of passage cannot pennanently obtain (“my wake alreadyfading”), and neither the tools and language of cartography nor definition through literaryallusion have currency in this region.Why this poem? Why begin a chapter setting out the case for a Gulf Island regionwith a poem written by an American, about American coastal desires rather than Canadian,that never mentions the Gulf Islands directly, while naming their American counterparts,the San Juans? Why analyse that poem at such length, when it cannot--by reason ofnationality--qualify as a Gulf Island literary work? The act of migration, of movementthrough waters that are local and foreign at the same time, fundamentally describesexperience, both American and otherwise, of Gulf Island space. The international boundarythat must be crossed--physically and psychically--for an American to enter the Gulf Islandregion is only the most obvious of the boundaries through which that region emerges fromundifferentiated space. Yet the region’s borders remain ambiguous: the international39border, which defines people by their place of habitation, is invisible. The stone markersthat physically trace the border on the mainland have no equivalent on the water. Neithercan the border be enforced with physical barriers at sea; in the islands, crossing theinternational boundary does not require asking anyone’s permission. As Hugo implies byundermining the notion of national “ownership,” the notion of nationality is irrelevant inthe islands: except for the Salish, whose notions of territory and belonging preclude theidea of “ownership” in any case, everyone is immigrant to the Gulf Islands. Even thoseborn in the islands are descended from immigrants, and are so vastly outnumbered by thoseborn here that they barely impinge on the dominant immigrant perspective. Making thepassage into Gulf Island space initiates the impulse to define that space: immigration isthus a crucial factor in how the islands are constructed. The tenor of Hugo’s reverie andthe poem’s structure and discursive models all characterize the preoccupation withinterpretation that the Gulf Island landscape appears to require.The poem oscillates between the literary voice of the self-referential traveller andthe laconic voice of reductive iconography. The juxtaposition of two mutually-antipatheticdiscourses parallels a similar clash of perspective on region: the inevitably self-absorbedoutsider as against the indifferent, smug resident. Yet Hugo makes both of these positionsinadequate. He refers also to the mode of the ubiquitous field guide, often as dictatorial asign (or text) of region, a defmition based on the notion of “range,” as any other textualguide to region. The phrase “firs and grebes are mine” suggests that to sight and identifrindigenous flora and fauna is to own region (as field guides imply), to be able to claimindigenousness for oneself on the assumption that recognition confers possession. Unlike40the field guide, however, which values the distinction between species--signified byLinnaean Latin names and by similarly two-part common names, always capitalized--Hugouses lower-case, single-word contractions of proper names only (firs rather than Douglasfirs, grebes rather than Western grebes), the mark of an outsider’s ignorance. Conversely,in the next line, Hugo refers only to the sub-species--Springs--rather than to salmongenerally, a usage that implies an intimate knowledge of the various species of salmon andtheir habits. Here, however, Hugo rejects the notion of ownership (“far too internationaltoo claim”), whether through intimacy or any other means. The possessive pronouns in thelast line of the stanza, however, complicate the notion of “nature” and its contribution tocompeting notions of region.Despite the poem’s mythic allusions, especially in the last stanza, to literaryconstructions of the voyage as the passage to death (or of the soul after death), and moregeneral references to the often portentous conventions of the quest narrative, Hugoconstantly undennines these cultural frames of reference. The title alone, with its directstatement of the scope of the voyage, mitigates the “universal” scale or significance ofthose allusions. “The Anacortes-Sydney Run” refers not to a voyage of exploration or selfknowledge but to regular ferry service between two small communities, Anacortes in PugetSound and Sidney on the Strait of Georgia. Here direction is indicated by sequence and ahyphen rather than the prepositions “to” and “from,” suggesting not only theinstitutionalized labelling of the voyage (the hyphen being the usual grammatical linkbetween ports of departure and destination in ferry schedules) but also signif’ing anessentially static experience. The term “run” implies a fixed route, an endlessly-repeated41movement back and forth, rather than a journey or quest. The misspelling of Sidneycomments ironically on the scale of this journey compared to the desires Hugo invokes itto satisfy: from Anacortes to Sydney, New South Wales would perhaps be a voyage ofepic proportions, whose antipodean goal might support the intertextual weight Hugo assignsit (destination--destiny). But the direction-less hyphen and the prosaic “run” call intoquestion, even mock, the epic baggage accompanying this voyage. The ironic disjunctionbetween the voyage and the expectations it creates is precisely the point: in the firststanza, Hugo has already crossed the border and entered that place of foreign-ness thatmakes him strange. As a literal statement, this intoxicating anxiety in the presence of theOther is absurd: the coins and language of two nations are virtually interchangeable here,the border itself invisible because drawn in water. But crossing the border cannot beliteral, since Hugo hovers throughout the poem in the space between the two nations thatshare that border. This is a directionless voyage; its signposts are voiced and discarded inturn, creating not a sequence but a cluster of partial definitions that cohere only through thehomonymic associations of punning: syntax and narrative break down, even sequenceobscures direction.Hugo neatly combines two opposing constructions of Gulf Island experience: thetraveller who yearns for an alien space without conventions, and the resident, settled into asystem of codes that defmes the region and the settler’s place in it. The last stanza defersarrival at the same time as it offers narrative revelation at “what turns out/to be the finalisland before landing.” The position of the line break in this phrase suggests the impulsetoward landscape interpretation that parallels the desire for arrival (the goal of both pilgrim42and immigrant) at some final, authentic version of self. The crucial phrase “these islands”that begins the seventh line of the first stanza slides to the end of the fourth line in the laststanza, signifjing a shift from beginnings to endings. The islands move from point ofinterpretive departure at the beginning of the poem, to destinations in the second stanza, toanother kind of an ending in the third. Against the solid finality of “landing” with whichthe third line concludes, the last line ends with “fading,” veering away from finality todissolution. The same verb form similarly shifts from the concrete noun to the evanescentpresent continuous verb.The final sentence, comprising the last three lines of the poem, diverts the voyageinto another direction (“a bad direction”) or perhaps no direction at all. The dashes withwhich the antepenultimate and penultimate lines end would seem, grammatically at least, tofunction quite conventionally to set off the middle phrase parenthetically, but they do notbridge a grammatical space, since the two clauses they separate bear no syntactical orsemantic relation to one another. Instead, the dashes point horizontally away from thepoem, toward the margin of the page and beyond. They ioop back to the indeterminatehyphen of the title, whose direction remains vague. The clause “the north I go” floatsrudderless, its syntactical confusion the logical result of the loose dashes. Paradoxically, itis only in this distorted statement that any specific direction appears--syntactic breakdown,the loss of sequence and relationships between linguistic markers (signs or buoys), makesthe meaning of “north” and its subject/verb/object relations ambiguous if not unknowable.But the phrase “the north I go,” in its very twistedness suggests intense desire.Hugo dreams the border into place only to pass beyond it: his desire creates an43alien space in which conventions of language and other modes of exchange have nocurrency. In his worst dream, by contrast, the conventional codes of region dictate hisexperience: the conventions of landscape representation, of travel-writing, of law, ofsettlement, of ownership, of pastoral retreat, defme and circumscribe the region. Yet boththe first and second stanzas assemble a list of normative statements about the region andhow it can be read. These lists correspond to the discourse of reference works, bydefining, delineating. They belong as much to the dictionary and encyclopedia as to guidebooks, field guides, and foreign-language phrase books (especially the latter, by virtue oftheir simplified structures and unambiguous syntax). Only in the final stanza does Hugoabandon these apparent certainties, literally sensible in some places, decodable word-play inothers. Here Hugo shifts subtly from the declarative present tense of the dictionary, tourguide, and field guide, to the present continuous mode. The voyage, the definition ormapping of region, is not something achieved and superseded by later actions, as imperialhistorical narratives would suggest, but a continuous process.Part Two: Seven Types of Pastoral: Admiring the Sheepthe displaced modern pastoral preserves the theme of escape from society tothe extent of idealizing a simpfl/led life in the countiy or on the frontier.Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism, 43These spores and seeds and bits of invasive root are the treasures I flingbackwards, over my shoulder, into the hokey loam of an old genre.Lisa Robertson, “How Pastoral: a Manifesto,” 9844Some people who come to Madronna Island never know that they do notbecome citizens. You are not a citizen unless you know how to stoke theCommunity Hall stove.Madronna has a vigorous community life centring on the hail, and everyevent is accompanied by eating and drinking. As almost all of the 64islanders (or 63 if Captain 0 ‘Grady is in jail on the mainland) are likely toattend this represents work. Ifyou are one of those who help clean the hailfor an event, help with the serving offooc4 and help wash up the dishes, youare a citizen.Jean Howarth, Secrets the Island is Keeping, 59What people in advanced societies lack (and countercultural groups appearto seek) is the gentle, unselfconscious involvement with the physical worldthat prevailed in the past when the tempo of life was slower, and that youngchildren still enjoy.Yi-Fu Tuan, Toponhilia, 95The phrase “admiring the sheep” is Richard Hugo’s only gesture toward the pastoral,but in these three words he encapsulates the principal interpretative frame applied to theGulf Islands. The point is not just that the sheep inhabit the islands, but that theappropriate response to them is admiration: they are to be engaged with, as is thelandscape they ornament, aesthetically, though with some restraint (admiration is hardly apassionate response). The pastoral mode functions in the Gulf Islands in variantcombinations of pastoral themes, images, and connotations that co-exist and inevitablycontradict one another. The pastoral trope is used so extensively in the islands as to seemthe inevitable mode of representation, so ubiquitous as to be invisible. Another factor in itsinvisibility is that the pastoral is applied to such divergent landscapes, climates, ways ofliving, and narratives as to have become virtually meaningless. The trope’s appearance inthe Gulf Islands rarely offers any radical redefinition; this is not the place where post-45modern reassessment turns the pastoral back on itself, or inside out, or upside down: it isits very conformity that makes Gulf Island pastoral difficult to perceive and assess. Theone departure from the norm is the appropriation of the pastoral for political ends: in theGulf Islands, the pastoral becomes a political position.’8 The Islands Trust’s conservationistorigins rehabilitate nostalgia, making it radical as well as conservative.19The local usefulness of pastoral as a political idea lies in its appeal to the notion ofhome. The anomaly in Richard Hugo’s inclusion of pastoral in “The Anacortes-Sydney18 The pastoral conservatism that informs Trust rhetoric runs directly counter to thesocial justice agenda of the bioregional movement, a specifically northwest coast--fromnorthern California to British Columbia--product, and one that many Gulf Islandersembrace. One of the leading advocates of bioregionalism is the poet and academic GarySnyder, one of the premier poets of the Pacific Northwest. Snyder was one of the first toembrace the notion of the earth as “Turtle Island,” a concept borrowed from a First Nationscreation story. In “Regenerate Culture! ,“ Snyder suggests that the most important aspect ofliving in an ethical relation to the land is to stay in one place, to learn not only the localcommunity of nature but to acquire also the stories and origins of local culture. Aconcomitant principle of bioregional living is to live from the local land, choosing food andmaterials for clothing and shelter from the local, indigenous environment, rather than thoseimported from elsewhere. Snyder’s essay is included in Turtle Talk: Voices for aSustainable Future (1990), one of several books on bioregionalism published by NewSociety, based in Philadelphia (formerly in Santa Cruz) and on Gabriola Island. Amongthese is Boundaries of Home: Manning for Local Empowerment (1993), Doug Aberly’sguide to mapping bioregions: Aberly’s M.A. thesis in the School of Community andRegional Planning at the University of British Columbia is entitled “Bioregionalism: ATerritorial Approach to Governance and Development of Northwest British Columbia”(1985). Despite the currency of bioregional ideology in the province and in the northwestUnited States, Gulf Island politics rarely invoke its discourse.19 In the Trust the two ends of the political spectrum overlap as the rhetoric ofconservation gives way to that of ecology; a radical idea takes over from a conservativeone. Both pastoral and ecology rest upon notions of nature, but the implications of the twoare vastly different. Ecological considerations are regarded on some of the Gulf Islandswith deep suspicion: in that the Trust has the ability to restrict interference with localecosystems, many islanders view the Trust as simply another layer of government, intentupon regulating their lives (especially with regard to developing land) in ways they movedto the islands to avoid.46Run” is that there pastoral emerges as a feature of travel writing. The pastoral denotes alandscape, and an emotional state (admiration) so domestic, so mild that it is hardly worthgoing away for: the pastoral mode connotes the quiet pleasures of home, of i travelling.Pastoral ignores the exotic, celebrating that which is not exotic. Since Hugo’s poemarticulates a desire for exoticism, for a place across borders where he has no words orcoins to exchange in local currency, the appearance of sheep in the final stanza marks areversal, a turning back toward the familiar. The failure of direction prompts thesyntactical reorientation in “the north I go:” the north is the place where pastoral cannotoperate, where wilderness--and hence exoticism--necessarily prevail.20 “The AnacortesSydney Run” has all the hallmarks of a quest narrative, except that it disrupts its ownnarrative in every line. In its confusion of subject, object, and verb, the statement “Thenorth I go” is a classic quest narrative: the relation of self to nature is ambiguous in thissentence. No longer does the self as subject, nature as object, and settlement or discoveryas verbs dominate the syntax of engagement with nature. Spirit quests enact subsurnation20 In Orientalism (1978), Edward Said describes a version of the East that attracts theEuropean to foreign travel, the charm of an exotic culture: people who crave the north andtherefore wilderness, on the other hand, are searching for the exotic in the absence ofculture, a place without tongue, where words have no purchase (speaking of currency.)Said’s orientalism explains travel that turns the idea of north has replaced west in therhetoric of frontier and wilderness, except that north has become a place to disappear intorather than a place in which to settle and to change by the process of settlement. Northattracts people who want to be naturalized rather than to change nature to reflect theirimage; so north also indicates a change in ideologies of nature, from settlement tosomething that is closer to nature writing, perhaps quest. Aritha van Herk’s novelFixed Address (1987) posits the notion of losing oneself in north, while Barry Lopez’sArctic Dreams (1986) combines nature writing and ecological ethics to ponder the meaningof place, extending into the Arctic the notions of dreaming and desire that Hugh Brodyperceived in Maps and Dreams (1981), his analysis of cultural conflict over theinterpretation of landscape in northeastern British Columbia.47into nature, the voluntary loss of self in order to gain insight. In this poem, the Gulf Islandregion both is and is not “north,” and by extension it both is and is not nature.Literally, home for most people who travel to or through the islands is urban orsuburban, but rhetorically home is rural, specifically pastoral. For these immigrants andvisitors, being in the islands feels like being both home and away: the charm of “away”lies, paradoxically, in the perception of the islands as authentically--rather than in sordidpractice--home. The rhetoric of “Gulf Island” overdetermines the region as pastoral. Locallandscape connotes pastoral so overwhelmingly that other characteristics of place--economics, social organization, goverument, and politics, for example--appear to fallinevitably into the category of pastoral also. The islands cling to the relics of agriculturalland-use to bolster claims to the region’s “rural” character: the degree to which theappearance of a rural landscape coincides with its function is moot, however. The CoolMediterranean zone, into which the islands on the west side of the Strait fall, oftenproduces natural meadows, small, grassy clearings, that is, that occur randomly in theforest. Visually, therefore, even the natural landscape in the Gulf Islands is inherentlypastoral: it does not depend on the mediation of European settlement for its pastoralappearance. This biocliinatic anomaly is only one of many instances in which the linesbetween wilderness and culture or civilization blur in the islands.On the other hand, since very few farms in the islands are still worked, either forcrops or for pasture, the pastoral becomes a charming illusion: the landscape that was onceused for these purposes retains its visual integrity, but its persistence depends not on stableconditions but on deliberate steps taken to preserve it. A paradox of pastoral in the Gulf48Islands is that it is very difficult to make a living from the land, as the European settlers ofthe period 1860 to the First World War would have understood it. Working on the land,for most of the twentieth century, means in the Gulf Islands creating a product or servicewhose marketability rests on the of the land (which paradoxically includes the sea)rather than working the land to produce food, clothing, and shelter, the substance of life.Economies of scale and difficulties of transportation mean that island farms and workingforests cannot compete with those on the mainland or on Vancouver Island. Chapter Six,for example, begins by referring to a story based on the harvest of salal for sale to floristsin urban centres around the periphery of the Gulf Island region. What is being sold here isnot so much a product of the land as the jçj., of nature: salal provides the evergreenbackdrop to arrangements made from flowers that are not indigenous to the region.Similarly, and crucially to the conclusion of the thesis, the story uses a marketable notionof nature derived from the pleasant idea of harvesting indigenous plants in a rural setting.Island fanns and other local businesses have only one advantage over competitorsoutside the Gulf Island region: they can appeal to the notion of the islands as natural andauthentic by comparison with other places. This naturalness and authenticity derive fromthe nostalgia that accompanies the pastoral: one need only consider the success of pioneerhistories like Peter Murray’s Homesteads and Snug Harbours (1991) to recognize howpowerful that nostalgia can be.2’ The pastoral has conventionally referred not simply to alandscape but to the figures in that landscape: it has, that is, been associated with certain21 A measure of that nostalgia is the placement of the word “home” in the titles of bothof Murray’s Gulf Island histories, Homesteads and Snug Harbours, a history of the entireregion, and Home From the Hill (1994), a collective biography of three English pioneerswho settled in the islands.49kinds of work on the land, and hence with particular workers. The literary and volubleshepherds of the Greek and Latin bucolic poets give way in nineteenth-century Englishpastoral to Wordsworth’s leech-gatherer and the peasant child of “We are Seven”: infigures such as these the Romantic pastoral finds not delicacy of feeling and poetry butsimpler virtues of clear sight, natural piety, and affection. Since the traditional roles ofhunter and gatherer, farmer and shepherd are greatly circumscribed in the Gulf Islands, thepastoral is located instead in various kinds of artisans, a category of work so broadlyinterpreted as to include much of the work that is done on the islands.In the latter half of the twentieth century, the identification of the Gulf Islands withartisans and craftspeople is so pervasive as to be a defining characteristic of the region.Indeed, many islands now produce maps that alert the visitor to the studios and shops inwhich art and crafts are sold: with these maps, the Gulf Island region becomes literallydelineated or defined by craft. The traditional practices of working on the land--hunting,fishing, farming, and especially forestry--have all acquired varying degrees of ideologicalincorrectness as a result of the devastating effects of these practices on natural places,generally outside the region. As a result, people who earn a living in these ways areperceived as threatening to the pastoral character of the islands, rather than elements of thatcharacter. The artisan, by contrast, has little direct effect on the landscape: engagementwith nature takes place on an aesthetic rather than physical level. The craftsperson’s“products” manifest the idea of nature rather than necessarily incorporating materialremoved from the landscape. Those crafts that do require natural materials tend towardthose that make little impact on the natural environment: driftwood, shells, fir bark, twigs50and branches, clay, herbaceous and annual plants, and surface minerals. Many Gulf Islandartisans work in photography, watercolours and oils, processes that require nothing fromthe local natural landscape. All of these processes, however, require nature as a referent.The work of the craftsperson and artisan is doubly natural in that both the processesand the subjects of their work can be perceived as closer to nature than other kinds ofwork. To take the latter case first, the products of Gulf Island craft either refer self-consciously to the materials--gathered from nature--from which they are made or representsome natural scene--landscape, in short. These products ground themselves in the intenselylocal: their marketability depends upon their associations, both actual and ideological, withthe islands from and upon which they are made.22 On the other hand, such directreferences are not completely necessary, since the mere practice of craft is enough todesignate Gulf Island: neither materials nor medium need be local. In the latter case, theassociations of craft with folk memory, with amateur, unsophisticated, simple skills,participates sufficiently in the rhetoric of nostalgia to be included in the pastoral equationof work and the land.22 For this reason, and because incomes in the Gulf Islands tend to be lower than insurrounding areas, craftspeople must look beyond the islands for markets if they areambitious for more than a subsistence income. As a result, the financial health of thesecottage industries depends directly on a reciprocal relationship with surrounding urbancentres. William Westfall distinguishes between formal regions--connoting “an area thatexhibits a similarity of features” (7), like the Gulf Islands--and “functional” regions, a termused “to group together the elements that are functionally related within a system” (7), suchas what is beginning to be called the Strait of Georgia urban region. The relation betweencraftspeople and those who buy their products echoes other political and economicrelationships that mitigate against the islands’ being a separate region, the role of regionaldistricts being the most obvious example. On an ideological level, however, the“functional” region--the Strait of Georgia urban region--provides the context within whichthe islands can mark themselves off as separate and special, as a region unto itself.51The point of invoking this equation is to establish authenticity: unmediated by theartificial conditions of work that pervert human relations in the city, craft pennits a directrelation not only between the worker and the land, but between the worker and his or herproduct. In the pastoral setting, the alienation of the worker does not occur, since themeans of production are natural. The necessity of work, therefore, does not interfere withthe authenticity of the worker’s identity: on the contrary, work reinforces, even establishesin the first instance, the authentic person. In the Gulf Islands, the products of craft--theproducts of nature--link the craftsperson to the natural landscape and to the intensely local.The authenticity of the product connotes the authenticity of the artisan.This emphasis on pastoral--in the form of a code of artisan or craft--in Gulf Islandwork dominates even literary production in the islands. Just as the place seems to bestowupon every islander the capacity to be an artisan, the region also enables its inhabitants,purely by virtue of belonging to place, to be writers. In part this may be a result of thepopular association of the Gulf Islands with literary and artistic communities: to an extentthis impression is well-founded, given the number of nationally- and internationally-knownauthors who live here (some examples are Audrey Thomas, Dorothy Livesay, DaphneMarlatt, Betsy Warland, Susan Musgrave, Phyllis Webb, and Jane Rule). Despite theannual literary festival that began in the early 1990s,23 however, these writers deny theexistence of a literary community. The cult of the artisan in the islands both makes writingavailable to the amateur and influences the particular genres in which islanders write. As I23 This festival was the result of a particular occasion, an urgent need to raise funds tosave land on Galiano that was being sold by MacMillan Bloedel and thus threatened withdevelopment. Whether it would have occurred otherwise is moot. Note that the list ofreaders is restricted to island residents, past and present.52discuss in Chapter Five, Gulf Islands narratives almost invariably constitute sketches, ratherthan more fully-realized literary forms. A consequence (or perhaps a cause) of this scale ofliterary endeavour is that local newspapers have been the principal means of publication.Journalists (such as Jean Howarth and Don Hunter) and historians (like Maria Tippett)become fiction writers; writing in and about the islands allows them to break free from theperhaps more prosaic forms in which they work and to indulge in works of imagination.Local histories, cruise narratives, and guidebooks dominate the genres in which the islandsare written: all of these forms are conventionally considered sub-literary, and thus thelegitimate territory of those with no more qualifications than enthusiasm. Local histories,especially, are usually self-published,24because they are often produced by untrainedwriters and because their appeal is limited to the place about which they are written. Manyislanders have taken the trouble to establish their own presses in order to publish theirwork and the work of other islanders: New Society and Reflections on Gabriola; ApplePress on Hornby; Gulf Island Press on Mayne; and at least two presses--Horsdal &Schubart of Salt Spring and Extasis of Pender--that have since moved to urban centres nearthe islands. The number of local presses does not, however, improve the distribution ofGulf Island writing, most of which remains outside the machinery of large-scalepublication, just as it lies outside canonical notions of literature. Like craft, Gulf Islandwriting is popular writing, populist and local. Since the idea of region is populist also, themeans of production governing local writing reinforces the notion that the islands constitutea region.24 Among self-published local histories of the Gulf Islands are Baikie, Borrodaile,Harrison, Hill et al., Kelsey, Mason, and Donald New.53The Gulf Islands participate not oniy in the conventional association of pastoralwith husbandry, but extend into the natural landscape also, to the forest and to the beach.In his book Forests: The Shadow of Civilization (1992), Robert Pogue Harrison makes acase for the forest as a site of pastoral in nineteenth-century English and German literaryromanticism (see Chapter Four: Forests of Nostalgia), while in the first chapter of Abroad(1980), Paul Fussell locates English literary pastoral between the wars on the tropicalbeach. Both of these currents of pastoral operate in the Gulf Islands, complicating theconventional identification of pastoral with settled, agricultural landscapes. They representtwo widely-diverging trends of thought: in the first instance, nostalgia privileges a past, orimagined past, that makes the notion of history--specifically local history--the form orgenre of pastoral lament. Unlike the forest, in which folk memory is preserved and can beexperienced, the beach rather offers an absence of history, in that its version of pastoralemphasizes timelessness and forgetting.The complex variants of pastoral codes that operate in the Gulf Islands may thuspresent ideological difficulties. Given that the Islands Trust rests on notions of pastoralnostalgia, these competing interpretations or codes of pastoral have the potential to createsignificant political conflict. For example, nearly all Gulf Island community plans use theidea of “rural” values to dictate the land-use patterns the plans endorse. In 1994, however,the Advisory Planning Commission to the Gabnola Trustees recommended that the word“rural” be removed from the Community Plan, on the grounds that the Commission could54not agree on a defmition of rural.25 A much more fundamental difficulty, however, lies inthe identification of the Trust with the rural values that the pastoral connotes.The name “Islands Trust” indicates not oniy the conservative nature of this level ofgovernment but also designates the Gulf Islands as a discrete region, a political entity. TheTrust, however, rarely requests residents of the islands to consider the region as a whole(an exception being the Trust’s solicitation of public comment on the entire regionprecipitated by the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ request, upon her appointment in 1992,for a policy document covering the whole region). Rather than addressing its constituencyas a region, the Islands Trust designates “the community” as the sphere of political activity.By community, the Trust means a specific island, or rather one of the thirteen individualislands whose jurisdiction includes smaller islands nearby. The manner in which theCommunity Plans are written is intended to give each island’s “community” the power todecide the island’s character (bylaws that are not in keeping with the Community Plancannot be enacted): the Community Plan process gives the impression that each islandretains the ability to dictate its own future. Final decisions on both the Community Planand bylaws, however, rest with the Trustees and, ultimately, the Minister of MunicipalAffairs. Although the Trust would appear to be a triumph of enabling local control, the25 The members of the Commission could not agree about whether “rural” can describeforest or whether it denotes purely agricultural land use. In the context of the debate,which centred upon the donation to the community, proposed by Weidwood of Canada, ofthe interior of the island in exchange for relaxed zoning requirements for waterfront landalso owned by Weldwood, the distinction became critical. At least one commissionerresisted the exchange on the grounds that developing the interior of the island according toexisting by-laws, which would result in twenty-acre parcels zoned for single-family use,would keep the island as rural as maintaining the forest. Under the existing zoning systemused by the Trust, forest land and low-density land are both zoned R-3.55Trust is hampered in its mandate through lack of funding, lack of enforcement of bylaws,and conflicts with other government agencies: what concerns me here is how the Trustreflects the notion of region and how the structure and purpose of the Trust reflect andreinforce those pastoral values that operate in representations of the islands.In Chapter Two I discuss how variously local histories of the Trust region constitutethe Gulf Island region: what these histories really discuss, however, are communities. Theways in which the subject areas of individual local histories shift exactly parallel hownotions of community change also: the local history, after all, is a profoundly local genre,depending as much upon memory as it does on verifiable fact. All history writing isnecessarily selective: the local history is selective in that it tends to reflect the memoriesand personal associations that the local historian equates with the local place. Theconstellation of subjects--individuals, families, friends, businesses, landscapes--that the localhistory discusses will be idiosyncratic. This shifting geography of community is rathereasier to recognize than slippage in local definitions of “community: for all the rhetoric inGulf Islands politics that invokes the sacred icon of “community” as the fmal repository ofwisdom and virtue, the concept is not defined.26 If, as seems to be the case in Gulf Island26 One of the few discussions of “community” on a Gulf Island that does notsentimentalize the notion is Jane Rule’s essay “Stumps” (1981). The element of antagonismand clashing beliefs on Galiano does not alarm Rule: on the contrary, she says, it is theexpectation of disagreement that frees people on the island to be individuals:Most people have stayed or come here because of an appetite for solitude toavoid the interference government is allowed in larger communities, theallegiance required by groups with similar beliefs and aims. When we talk,we expect to disagree. All communities are, in fact, enemy territory for theindividual, even those which profess concern for consensus, because nonecan accommodate comfortably all that anyone is. This community doesn’ttry. (187)56local histories before about 1990, community means a group of people personallyacquainted with one another for much of their lives, an acquaintance strengthened byfamily connections and shared memory, that notion is increasingly under pressure from therapidly-increasing population of the islands, and the degree to which that increase is theresult of immigration.The political process that Islands Trust embodies rests on a notion of “community”that assumes that decisions affecting each island can be reached by consensus. Consensusis likely, however, only when the group of people involved share common attitudes anddesires: in the islands, this conformity of perspective is assumed to be the result ofattachment to the local. Both ideas equate community with local space, with the intenseidentification of individuals with a specific place. Community is thus the repository ofIn the fifteen years since this essay was published, however, Galiano has been faced withthe most expensive and divisive issue any Trust island has encountered to date: whenMacMillan-Bloedel wanted to sell its forest land on the island (more than half of theisland’s area) in the late 1980s, the Galiano Conservancy and Trustees moved to passbylaws that would prevent subdivision of the MacMillan-Bloedel lands for residentialdevelopment. The forest company sued both the Conservancy and the Trustees (see Gibsonand Kienman). In the aftermath of this crisis, Galiano opinion about disposition of theMacMillan-Bloedel lands remains divided, making Trust decisions on the matter extremelydifficult. Whatever Rule’s assessment about the Galiano community’s social dynamics, thestructure of the Trust demands political process by consensus.On Gabriola, where collective belief in the consensus model of communitygovernment was strong at the beginning of the 1 990s, that belief has been eroded byGabriola’s own attempts to negotiate with another forest company, Weldwood of Canada,which owns a significant portion of the island. Over the more than two years ofnegotiations to date, local newspapers (in 1992, Gabriola had three newspapers) havebecome the site not only of increasingly vitriolic personal attacks on individuals supportingboth sides of the question (whether to permit the exchange of land for density thatWeldwood proposes) but of repeated calls for “healing the community.” The shock andsorrow over the antagonism with which the debate has been conducted stems not only fromthe conflict itself but from the degree to which that conflict disrupts the idea of the islandas a place of pastoral sanctuary from social and political conflict.57authenticity, whose integrity rests on its connection to place. The islands themselves arethought to bestow upon on immigrants the attitudes and desires that define the community:newcomers are naturalized into thinking like islanders, rather than bringing with them theattitudes and desires they developed in the place from which they came to the islands.The influence of the physical environment on individual character and thecommunity is an important component of the notion of “indigenousness.” In AudreyThomas’ Prospero on the Island (1971), for instance, Miranda notices that the largelyelderly population is different from its urban counterpart:The older people here are active, vigorous--one sees them out walking,bicycle riding, dressed upon the quay, waiting for the ferry to take them toVancouver for a visit or down at Dionysio Harbor, waiting for the ferry to“town” . . . In other words, whatever their original motives for coming herethese people are not the flotsam and jetsam one often sees in the streetsof Vancouver (or any big city) shuffling aimlessly along the indifferentpavements or mindlessly rocking on the front porch of a “rest home.” Theybelong; they constitute a community; they live separately and yet not inisolation. Their days are regulated by something more rewarding than thegong which announces a meager communal breakfast, or a desperatedevotion to the TV Guide. (102-03)This description of elderly Gulf Islanders as “active,” “vigorous,” purposeftul, focussed,independent, self-directed, and neighbourly, culminates in the statement that “theyconstitute a community.” Thomas subscribes to the idea of a community based uponcommon characteristics, all related to the influence of place. Here, Thomas elaboratesupon the model of Gulf Islands as a pastoral, health-giving environment.27The conservative notion of community is a collection of people bound together by27 The conviction that this elderly population is unusually healthy is ubiquitous in GulfIsland texts, but is perhaps not accurate: in many cases, once elderly islanders lose theirhealth they move to larger centres, especially Victoria, in order to be closer to medicalfacilities.58ties of shared history, family relationships, and mutual responsibility: in such a group,each individual confonns to a role, dictated by community composition and needs, that hasbeen assigned to that individual by birth or circumstance. In North American, latetwentieth-century society, however, individuals are much more at liberty to choose theirroles, and to discard those roles at will. The notion of community that can accommodatethis liberty must be much looser, more tenuous, and thus subject to radical change ordisintegration. The Gulf Islands seem to attract persons wanting to fulfill a romanticarchetype, as if William and Dorothy Wordsworth were to leave the Lake District andmove to the Gulf Islands. In this model, the islands represent the pastoral ideal, that thereis one right way to live--the Gulf Island way--and failure on the part of an individual to becomfortable with that way of life is failure on the part of the individual, not the way oflife. If one subscribes to the notion of a protean self, one can posit that there is a GulfIsland “role” that anyone can fill, even if only temporarily. If one then decides that thisrole does not fit the authentic self, one can move on: such an ongoing migration isconstituted not as failure but as passage through phases of self-hood.28 These opposingconstructions of the relationship between identity and place require very differentjudgements of personalities perceived to characterize Gulf Island residents and also of thosewho are entitled to belong to and help define the “community.” Another version of theauthentic Gulf Island identity derives from Rousseau’s notion that the natural landscape (orrather “nature” or “wilderness”) produces a superior person, primitive (that is, unable todissimulate) in social relations and self-reliant (without the need to establish social28 This distinction, which can be described as a shift from conditions of pre-modernityto those of modernity, is elaborated by Lionel Trilling in Sincerity and Authenticity (1971).59hierarchies, which develop when people need others to fulfill their needs). AlthoughRousseauists think it possible (and sometimes attempt) to return to this desirable state,Rousseau himself thought it impossible: his opinion reintroduces the notion of pastorallament and paradox. Primitive man is necessarily unaware of his felicitous state, since tobe aware of it would be unprimitive and unnatural.Very few people living in the islands have family roots in the region. The GulfIsland notion of “community,” therefore, is much more artificially constructed than in otherrural regions, where historically-continuous social relations are assumed to be the basis ofcommunity. Gulf Island texts blur the distinction between an indigenous (long-settled orestablished, rather than First Nations) community and a community composed of relativelyrecent immigrants. This blurring may simply reflect modern, generally urban patterns ofmigration and settlement (in which long-term social ties in a small geographic region havegiven way to “instant” communities). It also perhaps explains why experience of materialconcerning early pioneers has become so prevalent in Gulf Island texts: it is not necessaryto be personally acquainted with the neighbours to belong to the community as long as oneis “acquainted,” in an artistic or literary sense, with the origins of the community, byabsorbing community history and vocabulary through reading. Even better than readingsuch texts is writing them.Gulf Islanders often invoke the talisman of “community” in order to establishauthority and moral ownership of the land and to mount opposition to further developmentin the area. Any potential change is subjected to rigorous examination to determinewhether any resident islander’s quality of life will be affected. Community activism60originally organized against “big business,” specifically large forestry firms and large-scaleland development, is now directed against smaller operators and private landowners also.Community hearings and 4 ç meetings, letters to newspapers, private vendettasinvolving destruction of property and intimidation, and notoriously efficient island gossipensure that resistance to development is loud and persistent. Such constant, unofficialsurveillance on the part of private citizens enrages many of those who have bought land inthe islands with the intention of developing or using the property in ways that contradictthe conservationist ethos of the islands. The rhetoric of such disputes is becomingincreasingly violent, involving exchanges of charges of fascism and totalitarianism.29This emphasis on the needs and rights of the community is a departure from theusual tactics taken to criticize and oppose development of rural and/or semi-wildernessland, which tend to focus on some aspect of “nature” represented as threatened by suchdevelopment. This anomaly is odd considering that the Gulf Islands are generally valued29 Cliff Hunt’s letter of June 6, 1991 (“A Challenge to Mr. Willingham”) to The IslandTimes exemplifies this rhetoric while locating the conflict in the notion of “community:”Who, for heaven’s sake, has decreed that ownership of private propertymust be justified by its achievements as an effective means of meeting andserving the wants of the community?Where is this community of saints which has not only the right but eventhe duty to “intervene,” to “govern the use of property”? Would thatcommunity be, by chance, a handful of people wanting to use the propertyof others for their own private delectation?Are we to believe that private property is not private despite the ownerhaving paid for it with money earned, but rather, that the state has chosen toloan it out? Either property owners are suffering from the delusion that theypurchased their property to meet and serve their own wants or Mr.Willingham is suffering from the delusion that he lives on a little island runby fascists.The letter continues in the same vein.61not as a group of ideal communities but as a superbly beautiful and unique natural region.3°One explanation might be that islanders active in local politics use the notion ofcommunity as a metaphor for the ecological interdependence of elements in a givenbioregion. Thus the ecological metaphor can represent the principle that what one persondoes on private property affects all members of the community, who therefore have theright to comment on and even interfere in private activities. Another possibility is that, asis suggested by the authors of Habits of the Heart (1985), in default of religious andfamilial foundations to communities, the adoption of common “causes,” with attendantideology and activism, has become an alternate basis for the building of community.The variants on pastoral that operate in the Gulf Islands--the idea of nature, rurallandscape values, individual authenticity, community, nostalgia, home, and craft--createfurther variants, connections, and contradictions. The visual perception of the islands asboth settled and natural--pastoral, in short--initiates a network of connotations that pervade° This anomaly is also significant considering that some characteristics of the islandsappear to make them appropriate settings for feminist constructions of region andexperience. In her article “Women in the Wilderness,” Heather Murray suggests thatregions conforming to a notion of “pseudo-wilderness” (which she defines as a rural settingoccupying a space between an urban environment and true wilderness, which nonetheless“stands for” wilderness), permits a woman to place herself alone in “nature” and to learn,especially about herse1f from that environment. The Gulf Islands are an excellent exampleof pseudo-wilderness, but I have not yet found any examples of texts treating women’sexperience of the Gulf Islands this way. (In Intertidal Life, the work that arguably mostintensely incorporates the natural world, Alice reads field guides rather than experiencingthe actual natural world on Galiano.) Given the long tradition of women exploring, livingin, and writing about nature on the British Columbia coast (Kathrene Pinkerton, Three’s aCrew (1940); Margaret McIntyre, Place of Quiet Waters (1965); M. Wylie Blanchet, TheCurve of Time (1968); Lyn Hancock, There’s a Seal in My SleeDing Bag (1972); GileanDouglas, The Protected Place (1979); Edith Iglauer, Fishing with John (1990)), the lack ofa single Gulf Island example (when the geographical location and pastoral associations withthe islands match so precisely Murray’s “pseudo-wilderness”) is puzzling.all aspects of Gulf Island culture. This network constitutes the rhetorical strategies bywhich the Gulf Islands define themselves and acquire significance.62Chapter TwoAn Indefinite Space: Gulf Island HistoriesEcology is to a large extent the study ofplant and animal succession.Joseph Meeker, The Comedy of Survival, 27A good steam engine is properly superseded by a better. But one lovelypastoral valley is not superseded by another; nor a statue of Praxiteles by astatue ofMichael Angelo.Thomas de Quincey, “Literature of Knowledge and Literature of Power,” 1848Histoiy may repeat, but sometimes things get turned around in the process.William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways, 177A region is not simply a geographical entity but a concept defined by its historicalcoordinates: the geographical region cannot be separated from its historical existence. TheGulf Island region has changed size and shape since European settlement began; from onelocal history to another, the region’s boundaries are fluid. The manner in which the regionhas been defined and represented in local histories depends on criteria for regional identitybeyond the topographical. Until the end of the Second World War, the Gulf Islands wereperipheral to regional (Pacific Northwest or British Columbia coast) and provincial historiesthat treated the Gulf Islands, if at all, as quaint and inconsequential. But with MargaretShaw Walter’s Early Days among the Gulf Islands of British Columbia (1946), the firstfrill-length published account of European settlement on the islands, the Gulf Islandsbecame the subject in themselves of a discrete text. The separate volume marks a64separateness of space and intention: the boundaries of the subject align with the spatialboundaries of the region. Local histories of the Gulf Islands define localness; they fix thehistorical coordinates of local space.Walter’s voyage across the Atlantic from England culminates in the moment in1877 when her uncle takes the family off the steamer in Trincomali Channel: “so it was,”she says, “from the deck of the ‘Emma’ that we first saw the Gulf Islands, names of whichat least were to become so familiar later on” (6). Arrival scenes are pivotal moments inemigrant narratives, reflecting transition from old life to new: in memoirs such as Walter’s,rather than diaries where arrival cannot be interpreted in light of subsequent events, therhetoric of such moments encapsulates both emigrant desires and the life that follows.31For Walter, the significant moment, the point of origin, occurs at the family’s first sight ofthe groun of islands, not the specific island on which they settled. The preposition31 In Imperial Eyes, Mary Louise Pratt describes arrival scenes as “a convention ofalmost every variety of travel writing,” serving “as particularly potent sites for framingrelations of contact and setting the terms of its representation” (78-79). In “Fieldwork inCommon Places,” she examines two common tropes for describing the arrival of theethnographer in the contact zone: the “royal arrival” and “the old-fashioned castaway” (37-38). Pratt is concerned in these two examples with contact with indigenous peoples ratherthan specifically with landscape, and the tropes she describes initiate the ethnographer’snarrative. Andrew Hassam, on the other hand, focusses on landscape representations inarrival scenes, and analyses how those scenes affect closure of travel narratives. He hasfound that ship-board descriptions of the Australian shoreline function as narrative climaxesin nineteenth-century emigrant diaries:What is common to these descriptions . . . is a desire to end the narrativeof the voyage on a suitably high note. The voyage along the coastline is thelast stage of a long sea journey in which the description of static scenery hasbeen largely impossible. . . . writing the coastline of Australia allows thenarrative of the voyage to come to a successful close. From on board ship,the coastline becomes active, participating in the emigrants’ desire to reachtheir destination, making the very act of emigration itself seem destined byprovidence. (205)65“among” in her title indicates a similar orientation: instead of more conventional usages(“in” a place or “on” an island), “among” suggests a network of conventions and living onwater. Walter does not mention Galiano by name until well into a description of herfamily’s first years on the island, where she identifies the island casually, only because thecontext requires that naming: “Later on I remember one of the older settlers on Salt SpringIsland when coming across to see the new family he had heard of as being on Galiano,bringing with him a full bucket of milk ‘for the children” (6-7).The lack of overt reference to Galiano makes sense, however, when Walter explainsthe scope of local space at the time:Neighborhood in those days stood for quite an indefinite space. FromMayne Island, the nearest to ours southward, which forms with Galiano, theswift current of Active Pass; that of Pender, Saturna, and even to San Juan--for there were no tariff boundaries then, people travelling up the channeltoward Nanaimo perhaps, would anchor sometimes in our little bay. (8)Walter’s use of the word “neighborhood” designates an intimate arrangement of space basedprimarily in social connections. The incident of the Salt Spring settler bringing milk to theShaw children reinforces the notion of neighbourhood, being an act intended both as simplekindness and to establish social relations within local space. Walter’s notion of theneighbourhood of her childhood transgresses even the international border: the boundarydispute about the route the border should take through the islands had been settled in 1872,five years before Walter’s family arrived in the region, yet by her account, the formaldivision was irrelevant to island residents. San Juan Island, at least, was still part of theneighbourhood.Walter outlines Gulf Island space in a sentence that lacks both geographical and66grammatical relationships. Her sentence has no predicate; commas interrupt subject andverb, verb and object; lists ignore parallelism; semi-colon and dash replace who-knows-what missing links between thoughts. Walter’s confused syntax echoes the indefiniteness oflocal space: as a set of directions, her description of the local region lacks bothprepositions and compass points that might indicate the spatial relationships betweenislands. She names the islands in order as they extend south and east of Galiano, butabruptly reverses direction with a gesture north, toward Nanaimo. The islands she names,however, reach no further north than Galiano. The defining sentence ends with the notionof travel, a concept that contradicts the notion of neighbourhood, which implies three-dimensional space, while the traveller’s notion of space is a line, a direction: beyondGaliano, presumably, neighbourhood (“our little bay”) gives way to the impersonal, foreignspace, the proper sphere of travellers. It is impossible to map Walter’s Gulf Islands fromher own description; the boundaries of Gulf Island space must be assembled by inventingthe absent relationships between the spatial and syntactical fragments of which her sentenceis composed. That spatial indefiniteness is actually more pronounced even than Walterdemonstrates here, for the geographical range she covers in her memoirs overlaps with, butis by no means identical to, the area she overtly maps as her “neighbourhood.” The act ofneighbourliness she cites crosses the boundary of her neighbourhood as she defines itdirectly, since Salt Spring is not part of the community she names. By her own account,Galiano is the northern limit of the Gulf Island community which stretches south and eastto San Juan Island, but her stories include the area farther north. As would be logical for aresident of the north end of Galiano, Walter’s personal mental map includes Valdes, Kuper,67Thetis, and Salt Spring Islands, all adjacent to Galiano to the north and west across thesheltered waters of Trincornali Channel. Walters thus moves between two alternate, evenconflicting mental maps of the Gulf Islands. The definition she states directly isconventional, the shared opinion of the community centred in the outer islands. Shesubmerges her own orientation toward local space beneath the received version of theboundaries of the region. This contradiction makes the two parts of Walter’s disclaimersignificant too: the region she knows is not the same as the region she believes in (“thenames of which at least were to become so familiar”), the qualification (my emphasis)making familiarity the result of discourse rather than experience. For Walter, communitydiscourse is as authoritative and reliable a source of knowledge as her own experience (orrather, she cannot separate community discourse from her own knowledge or experience).Spatial epistemology in the Gulf Islands means that an unseen region can be defined andknown, a mental map of the islands drawn in discourse with other islanders.Early Days belongs to the genre of memoir rather than that of history: in herforeword, Walter disclaims any authority based in scholarship and research, confiningherself “strictly to what I know or believe to be true in every case.” Rather than limitingthe authority of her text, this statement of criteria establishes local conventions for definingthe Gulf Island region during the late nineteenth century. Fifteen years after Walterpublished her reminiscences, the Gulf Islands Branch of the B.C. Historical Associationproduced A Gulf Islands Patchwork (1961), a collection of essays, poems, reminiscences,anecdotes, and photographs relating to settlement of the outer islands. The book issubtitled “Some Early Events on the Islands of Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, North and South68Pender,” naming a Gulf Island region almost identical with Walter’s conventional version(though no longer bridging the international border, a conceptual boundary that solidified inlocal discourse over the intervening eighty years). For the contributors, as for the earlysettlers they commemorate, “home” still means the entire group of islands: the collectivemental map Walter describes having persisted for nearly a century. The metaphor ofpatchwork and the indefinite article in the main title signify a proximity rather than fusionof material, randomly assembled and stitched together. No discernible structure orders theentries, either geographically (grouping material about a specific island in one place),topically, or chronologically. No attempt is made to synthesize the history of the group ofislands: the onus is on the reader to make connections between entries, to piece togethernarrative lines, to amalgamate single events into general trends. Like Walter’s Forewordand the “early days” of her title, the editorial disclaimer “Some Early Events” signifiesindeterminate beginnings: unconnected by the causal links that characterize formalhistorical narrative, “days” and “events” constitute antinarratives.But five years later, Donald A. New published a booklet titled Voyage ofDiscovery: Gulf Island Names and Their Origins (1966), arranging his text chronologicallyand emphasizing a sequence of origins in the Gulf Island region. Like New’s arrangementof the names into a historical narrative, Jean Lockwood’s Foreword suggests that thegeographical project takes second place to the historical one:The purpose of this booklet is to tell the discoverer of today something ofthe history of the Gulf Islands, and how and where the names of theirharbours, bays, points and mountains originated. (N.p.)Voyage of Discovery is a history of allusions to discovery rather than about discovery69itself: unlike Early Days or A Gulf Islands Patchwork, New’s book necessarily dwells lesson settlement than on discovery, since most current place names in the islands date fromthe British naval survey of 1858 to 1863, rather than from European settlement.The map in Voyages of Discovery marks a shift in emphasis from Walter’smemoirs. Early Days does not include a map, which is not surprising given Walter’sindeterminate definition of Gulf Island space and her intended audience: as her casualnessabout mentioning Galiano suggests, she assumes her readers know where she lives, and thatthe events she recounts are common knowledge, though in danger of being forgotten.Gulf Islands Patchwork includes a fold-out map at the back of the book, tracing a smallerregion than New’s. The map in Patchwork uses a system of numbers locating entries givenin lists of names above the map proper: each list pertains to an individual island,beginning with places on the coasts of the islands, and then moving on to names locatedmore often in the interior of the islands, names associated with settlement rather thannavigation. The lists thus move from officially-sanctioned names to vernacular namesarising from local circumstances, most of which do not appear on government-producedmaps of the same date. New, however, omits most of the settlement names, concentratingon the coastal names that match the official naval charts. The écriture of the two maps isalmost identical, consisting of unadorned roughly hand-drawn outlines of the islands belowlists of names, coded with numbers to numbered locations on the maps. But whereasPatchwork labels the islands and major bodies of water on the map itself where spacepermits, New labels only the islands and Nanaimo. All of the coastal names are his subjectand are thus coded to the map and ordered in lists; Patchwork, however, treats major70coastal names as reference points only, as guides to locating sites of settlement. A GulfIslands Patchwork thus treats its map as an adjunct to the mental map that it assumes itsreaders share, while New treats the map as a text complete in itself of equal importance tothe historical account of place names. New’s definition of the Gulf Island region appearsdiscursively as cartography rather than as exposition.New’s particular version of Gulf Island space does not use settlement as its definingtrope as the two earlier histories do, but reverts to a notion of discovery--or more preciselynaming--as the source of origins. At the end of the booklet, a short acknowledgementconcedes that New has gleaned most of his material from Captain John F. Waibran’s BritishColumbia Coast Names (1907). New adopts both Waibran’s assumption that toponymyitself is history and his emphasis on the coastline of the region that is his subject. Exceptwhere elevation provides a navigational aid, the space behind the beach in the interior ofthe islands is irrelevant to New’s version of the Gulf Island region. The resemblance ofNew’s project to Walbran’s indicates that New intended his booklet to define Gulf Islandspace. The information in Voyage of Discovery had been available in Walbran for half acentury: in reprinting the information in a new format, New casts the boundaries of theregion into relief. Walbran’s title clearly creates or identifies a discrete region, “BritishColumbia Coast,” against which New’s selection and rearrangement of material (New isarranged chronologically, Walbran alphabetically) creates a geographical entity that had notbefore been mapped as a distinct region. Not surprisingly, New’s Gulf Island region doesnot depend on a notion of neighbourhood and the collective mental mapping thatneighbourhood implies. New’s version expands the region from that defined in the two71earlier histories, stretching instead from Gabriola Island south through the outer islands andSalt Spring to include the small islands clustered around the Saanich Peninsula (though asin Patchwork the American border marks its southern boundary). This definition of theregion derives from a marine perspective, from a traveller’s passage through space ratherthan the local conventions that identify the region as home.New’s quasi-history of the Gulf Islands ends a distinct phase in history-writing ofthe region, even though that phase lasted only twenty years. Not until nearly a centuryafter initial European settlement did the Gulf Islands appear as the discrete subject ofhistorical treatment in separate volumes, rather than as part of historical accounts of alarger region. For a quarter century after New issued his pamphlet, published full-lengthaccounts of Gulf Island history are strictly limited to histories of individual islands ratherthan of the region as a whole, however constituted. Three cover Hornby Island (Corrigall1969, 1975; Smith 1988; and Fletcher 1989), two Mayne Island (Borrodaile 1971; Elliott1984), two Denman (Isbister 1976; Baikie 1985), two Salt Spring (Hill et al. 1983;Hamilton 1984), and one each Lasqueti (Mason 1976), Bowen (Howard 1973), Gabriola(Harrison 1982), and Thetis (Kelsey 1993). Collective island history gave way to isolatedhistories of unconnected communities.The only exception to this chronology of local history writing--the shift, that is,from multiple island histories to individual ones--is Eric Roberts’ Salt Snring Saga (1962),which precedes the close of the multiple-island phase of historiography by three years.This anomaly is actually consistent with the versions of the Gulf Island region described byWalter and A Gulf Islands Patchwork, both of which omit Salt Spring from the72conventional, local definition of the Gulf Island region (or community). And Donald Newechoes the Gulf Islands Patchwork map in labelling Salt Spring but leaving it otherwiseblank, a space without distinguishing features or names, a barren coastline. According tolocal historiography, Salt Spring, now often considered emblematic of the Gulf Islandregion, was not part of the region from mid-nineteenth-century European settlement throughthe 1 960s, despite its islandness and proximity to the outer islands. In versions of theregion current before the 1 960s and even later, the tenn “Gulf Islands” means the outerislands, the islands separated from Vancouver Island by the looming bulk of Salt Spring.The geography of Salt Spring, the shape of whose coastline mirrors the corresponding coastof Vancouver Island to the west and south and hugs the main island quite closely, hasdictated that the island’s history and culture be much more directly tied to that of adjacentcommunities on Vancouver Island than to those of the other islands. Transportationbetween Salt Spring and Vancouver Island has always been much easier than between theouter islands and those islands and Vancouver Island: by the 1960s, direct ferry servicewas available from both Vesuvius Bay and Fulford Harbour, neither of which serves any ofthe other islands. Salt Spring was the first island to be settled in any organized way and,being much larger than any of the other Gulf Islands, can support a larger population (withthe more diverse and sophisticated services such a population requires) and commandgreater political clout than any other single island. Because of these differences, settlementand development have proceeded much more intensely and quickly on Salt Spring than onadjacent islands: it is hardly surprising that the outer islands, all relatively small andequally isolated from Vancouver Island, share an identity, and thus a history, that omits73Salt Spring.The other anomaly among the histories of individual islands is the absence ofindividual histories of Galiano, North and South Pender, and Saturna. Together withMayne, these islands constitute the “outer” Gulf Islands, which are generally considered tobe the core group of the Gulf Island region. These are the islands that are beyond dispute,the ones that are always included in any version of the region. It is more difficult toexplain this anomaly: one possibility is that with the publication of A Gulf IslandsPatchwork, much of the ground had already been covered, especially since Marie AnneElliott’s 1984 history of Mayne includes the outer islands as is signalled by her book’s titleMayne Island and the Outer Gulf Islands: A History. The outer group may be consideredtoo well-known to merit further attention. Conversely, the histories of individual islandsmay be challenges to the notion that the outer islands are the “real” Gulf Islands,correctives to the attention that the outer group has received, both in historical writing andin all other texts. The most likely explanation, however, is that the outer islands are soinextricably bound up with one another’s history that it would be impossible to isolate theearly history of a single island in the group.This sudden shift in focus from the region to individual islands in the writing oflocal history can be attributed to the increase in population: by the end of the 1960s, itwas no longer necessary to look beyond one’s own island for a sense of community. Thekey lies in Walter’s use of the word “neighborhood” to describe the scope of her book:until populations increased to the point that a single island could constitute a community, atleast in social terms (as opposed to legal or political), the watery divisions between islands74were roads rather than boundaries. The notion of a Gulf Islands community becameirrelevant once the social need for a sense of connection with other islands had passed.Local histories describe patterns of interconnected lives, both of kinship and of longacquaintance. The Gulf Islands region can be said to have shrunk during this period ofexpanding population: the notion of the Gulf Islands group held little importance except asone’s own island could be (and usually is) considered to be quintessentially Gulf Island.But in another sense, Gulf Islands space expanded as distances and physicalobstacles long considered inconsequential became significant barriers between islands. Asthe weekly steamship service gave way to much more frequent government ferry service (aconsequence of population growth), the rowboat seemed too slow and dangerous a vehiclefor travel between islands. But the vagaries of routes and schedules and fares made inter-island travel more difficult than convenient: coupled with the more immediate satisfactionof social desires possible on one island, this change in transportation habits created anestrangement between islands. The transition from neighbourhood to discontinuous regionmarked an increasing rather than diminishing remoteness, in contrast to the expandingurban area of Vancouver, for instance, which absorbed nearby settlements into itself assuburbs. The history of the region fractured into histories of individual islands.In 1991, however, Peter Murray published Homesteads and Snug Harbours, a firstattempt at a conventional history of the Gulf Island region, rather than an assemblage ofdocuments of many kinds, by many hands. Unlike Margaret Walter, who refuses tosupplement her reminiscences with research, or New, who relies on a single, not alwaysreliable source, Murray lists a substantial bibliographic foundation. And unlike A Gulf75Islands Patchwork, Homesteads and Snug Harbours is the work of one writer, not himselfan earlier settler or the descendant of early settlers, who thereby perhaps brings to his worka scholarly detachment and a synthesizing influence to produce a stronger narrative linethan earlier versions of the region’s history had done.The shift back to the notion of the group of islands as a significant, coherent placeindicates not a return to a strong sense of social cohesiveness between islands but rather asense of political urgency. Twenty years of experimentation with the Islands Trust hasproduced few indications that the special status of the islands can be maintained or itsspecial quality preserved. For the most part, Murray employs the Islands Trust definitionof the region, but he also manipulates the Trust area’s geographical boundaries. Heincludes Texada, for instance, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Trust, buteliminates the islands in Howe Sound and the Thormanby group along the Sunshine Coast.Just as cartography illuminates the discursive interpretations of the region in earlierhistories, the maps that accompany Murray’s text reveal an idiosyncratic definition of theGulf Islands region.Rather than using a single map of the entire region (admittedly an unwieldy elementof Voyages of Discovery and A Gulf Islands Patchwork), Murray uses four separate mapsthat appear as a sequence before the discursive text (in the two earlier histories, the mapshad been bound as part of the back covers, rather than as pages of the text). Murray’scartography thus divides the region into four parts, three of which, covering the outerislands, Salt Spring, and the islands off the Saanich Peninsula, overlap very slightly. Theline of southern islands is thus redrawn as three squat rectangles. The fourth map includes76Denman and Homby, Lasqueti and Texada: given that a rectangular map of the first threeislands is almost impossible to draw without including Texada, one wonders whetherTexada was included in the region (a chapter is devoted to Texada and Lasqueti) simply tosatisf’ the demands of straight-line cartography. A fifth, comprehensive map shows howthe four detailed maps fit into the Strait of Georgia: here, the islands of Howe Sound andthe Thormanbys are drawn but not labelled, unlike the San Juan Islands, which do notappear at all, the space they occupy being reduced to empty sea. Texada is as close toLasqueti, a Trust island, as most of the southern islands are to one another, but those onthe southeast side of the Strait lie separate from the rest. Such a pronounced revision ofthe Trust boundaries of the region suggests that some aspect of southeast-ness made theThormanby and Howe Sound islands ineligible for Murray’s notion of the Gulf Islandsregion: the only difference between these islands and those Murray does include is theirproximity to Vancouver. The islands on the east side of the Strait are perhaps drawn toodeeply into the Vancouver urban region, where their separate origins and history may beobscured by, or too heavily dependent on, the growth of Vancouver.32In this proximity, the southeast islands challenge what Murray conceives to be thedefining characteristic--separateness--of Gulf Islandness, which he states in the firstsentence of the book: “There’s no question--the Gulf Islands are different, special places”32 Such a distinction based on geographical distances is not as logical as it appears inthis region, since other factors--particularly the availability of ferry service--moreimmediately influence the degree to which individual islands attract urban interest. Theboundaries of Murray’s implied urban region are also questionable, since it has becomecommon, among regional planners, to refer to the “Strait of Georgia Urban Region,” amodel that does not distinguish between islands on the basis of greater or lesser distancefrom Vancouver.77(1). Italicizing the verb to emphasize state of being makes the question of distinctness ofplace, of a claim to region, the central concern of the entire book. Murray’s statementseems to refer to a challenge to which the book is a response, the latest installment,perhaps, in a continuing argument. Ironically, Murray’s evidence for his statement consistsmainly of a quotation in which John Fowles describes island utopias in general and theScilly Isles in particular. Murray’s claim to difference, then, rests on a definition of“island-ness” taken from an example half a world away, rather than in any attribute of iciconditions.The plural islands in Murray’s declaration beg the question of whether it is theregion that differs from surrounding areas or whether the islands are different from oneanother. As a regional history, the book is a generic anomaly: it recounts separate butsimultaneous local histories, rather than synthesizing parallel elements in the histories ofmultiple islands. Murray may have set himself an impossible project: social and psychicinvestment in difference (between islands) defeats topographical similarity. Or perhaps theicon of amateur endeavour in representations of the Gulf Islands resists the rigours ofscholarly or professional historical research and writing. In any case, Murray faces aproblem of genre. His book attempts to make the local regional: the local history can nolonger be used in the Gulf Islands, but the characteristics of the region resist the demandsof a regional history. Such a history requires synthesis, supplementing anecdote withcontext, amalgamating personal stories into collective experience, creating a narrative orseries of narratives that transcend yet include individual perspectives. Murray gesturestoward synthesis, both in his title and in the focus of his first and last chapters. The phrase78“homesteads and snug harbours” defines the region by isolating its emblematic (common orunifying) landscapes, the topographical diversity between the two embracing all variationsin between. The opening and closing chapters unify Gulf Island experience, the firstthrough tracing broad outlines of emigration and settlement and the last in recounting theproblems of travel across water, a defining characteristic of Gulf Island life. These twochapters-- “The People” and “The Boats”--roughly parallel the two parts of the book’s title,framing the condition of Gulf Island settlement within these two chapters. The chapters inbetween, however, fracture the region into its geographical parts. Consistent with subjectareas of the earlier collective histories of the Gulf Islands group, Murray begins with theouter islands. From Mayne, Murray moves northwest to Galiano, southeast to Satuma, andsouth to Pender, then widens his scope to take in the small islands close to Sidney, movingnorth to Salt Spring and continuing north through Thetis, Kuper, and Reid, Gabriola andValdes, Lasqueti and Texada, ending with Denman and Hornby. The route of Murray’shistory traces a spiral through the outer islands that loosens into a long, northward curveveering east to Lasqueti and then west to include Demman and Homby at its end. ButMurray’s structure does not trace any narrative line. By fragmenting the region accordingto topographical boundaries, Murray defeats his aim of producing a regional history. Theseveral maps in Homesteads and Snug Harbours underscore Murray’s discursive fractures.However unconsciously, Murray grasps that the genre in which he writes--the localhistory--is conventionally limited to accounts of settlement. Its ultimate aim is to validateand celebrate the state or stage of local settlement as it exists at the time of writing. ButMurray feels uneasy enough about local developments in the genre to explain what he79perhaps considers omissions in his own work:It is fashionable nowadays to begin histories such as this with a detailedaccount of the rumblings which created the geology and shapes of thelandscape millions of years ago. Also mandatory, it seems, is an attempt toretell the story of the Indians. After all, as is invariably pointed out, theywere here first. (4)Murray resists trends in local history writing, on the British Columbia coast as elsewhere inpreviously colonial places, that attempt to acknowledge and perhaps redress the genre’soverwhelming emphasis on European settlement. For him, post-colonial awareness of thediscourse or narrative of priority (“they were here first”) is irrelevant. In Homesteads andSnug Harbours, Murray clears the spatial slate of prior narratives of geology, Salishoccupation and European discovery, mapping at the outset of his history an emptylandscape that he can gradually fill with the co-ordinates of settlement. The bookestablishes the pastoral moment itself as the original moment, the moment at which theregion is called into being and defined. By omitting the narrative of prehistoric landscapefonnation, Murray makes the landscape coincidental with the arrival of settlers. Byignoring Salish presence in the region, he also reiterates the notion of settlement as thepoint of origin of the historical region.In his introduction, Murray gives two conflicting accounts of the book’s purpose.He denies that his project is motivated by issues of development, although thatpreoccupation is implied by his conforming to the Trust notion of the region and therhetoric of urgency the Trust employs, claiming instead: “[t]he attempt here is to invoke[sic] a sense of what it was like for the islands’ first settlers” (3). The absence of anantecedent for “it” in this statement betrays an ambivalence of intention: is “it” life,80landscape, the experience of settlement itself? The final paragraph of the introductionsuggests that the notion of origins is more complicated:So this is an account, a celebration if you will, of settlement of theislands during the century between the 1850s and the 1950s. These are thestories of some remarkable people and their sometimes heroic endeavours toestablish a way of life that has not yet been totally erased. It is good to bereminded of this past, to give us signposts to the future. We can’t go backto those days, but it should be possible to retain something of their quality.(4)In conjunction, these two accounts of the book’s aim merge the experience (and claim) ofbeing “first” (“the islands’ first settlers”) with an entire century of continuous or successivedevelopment. The circumstance of priority, therefore, repeats endlessly. Repetition doesnot, however, negate the notion of priority: the frequency and longevity of the invocationto priority proves its centrality to the notion of the Gulf Island region. Murray arbitrarilycloses the period of settlement after a century of the process, which raises the speculationthat Murray himself “discovered” the islands in the 1950s.I use the word “invocation” deliberately, for Murray’s solecism in using “invoke”rather than “evoke” reveals another level of intention: the text’s function as both invocationand celebration is ritualistic, liturgical. Against his own protestations, Murray betrays adesire not simply to preserve (or “retain” as he says) the islands’ special quality, but torecover its essence and the conditions of its production. In pastoral elegy, that enviablestate has been lost, the elegiac viewpoint focussing not on the process of loss but on thenature of the loss itself. The elegiac mode permits, in itself, the recovery of the pastoralmoment (for its own sake, the pleasure of memory). In writing Homesteads and SnugHarbours, Murray hedges against the as-yet partial erasure of that specialness. This local81history functions not merely as the repository of records, but as an archive of blueprints forsettlement, in the future as much as in the past. The settlement to which Murray refers isnot so much a matter of lot lines and building plans (though both of these texts--asdiscourses and mental maps--play a large part in other attempts at similar recovery) but ofthe condition of Gulf lslandness, of regional character.That all the local histories of individual islands betray a nostalgia for the settlementera is hardly surprising given the nature of the genre. But Gulf Island local histories passbeyond the boundaries of nostalgia into elegy. In a very short space of time, roughly aquarter of a century, the mode of local history-writing in the islands shifts from theboosterism that usually informs the genre, which generally traces a trajectory of growth andestablishment into the future, to elegiac romance, to a narrative of possession (as origin)followed by loss. Local histories look forward, establishing a nan-ative of dynamism thatpropels the locality into the future. Murray’s reference to the Trust is ambivalent but so ishis reference to “the pace of development.” Murray’s purpose is to fl, not to enable anarrative of change that extends beyond the book’s conclusion into the present. Murraywrites a non-sequential history: his structure enables him to begin again with each newchapter, rather than to follow a chronology, creating an impression not of development butof a single, enviable state into which change does not intrude.Chapter ThreeWe Found An Archipelago of Many Low, Small Islands: DiscoveryTo be an explorer was to inhabit a world ofpotential objects with which onecarried on an imaginary dialogue.Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay, 25Geographical class names created a dfference that made a dfference. Theyrendered the world visible, bringing it within the horizon of discourse.Carter, 51We may think, then, of the class elements in place names as the agent of alinguistic fifth column, infiltrating and dividing the space stealthily, as anoutpost supplying a ramifying network of grammatical and syntacticalconnections.Carter, 58The coast is the metaphor of exploring, not of the explorer.Carter, 93Landscape painting is an arrangement of natural and man-made features inrough perspective; it organizes natural elements so that they provide anappropriate settingfor human activity.Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia, 122Peter Murray’s refusal to consider geomorphology or the occupation of the GulfIslands landscape by the Coast Salish necessary components of local history writing issurprising not because he rejects these elements but because he does not mention the muchmore common practice of beginning a British Columbia coast history with the moment ofEuropean discovery and exploration in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Unlike83the American Pacific Northwest, where Lewis’ and Clark’s overland journey dominatesnotions of discovery and hence origin, the trope of discovery and exploration by searemains the defining metaphor or icon for both British Columbia as a whole and its coastalplaces. The persistence of that metaphor reflects the degree to which European history ofthe province originates by sea: the first place in British Columbia to acquire a Europeanname still in use was the Strait of Juan de Fuca, named, according to John Walbran, “orrather re-named, by Captain Charles William Barkley of the fur trading ship ImperialEagle, who was off the entrance to this inlet in July, 1787, and recognized it as the longlost strait of Juan de Fuca” after “the Greek pilot Juan de Fuca, who sailed up this strait in1592” (British Columbia Coast Names, 274). Alexander Mackenzie’s overland arrival atthe Pacific at Bentinck Arm in July 1793 thus postdated European arrival by sea by twohundred years (and Lieutenant Johnstone’s charting of Dean Channel for CaptainVancouver by three weeks) (Ormsby 33). The incorporation of Victoria (the result of aDonald New’s pamphlet Voyage of Discovery: Gulf Island Names and Their Originsbegins with the statement:The oldest name in British Columbia is JUAN de FUCA, the wide strait leadingin from the Pacific Ocean. This name was made official in 1787 by Capt. CharlesWilliam Barkley who was here collecting sea otter pelts in his good ship ImperialEagle.Barkley did not enter the straits but identified them as the opening claimed tohave been discovered in 1592 by the Greek pilot Apostolos Valerianos, working forthe Spaniards under the assumed name of Juan de Fuca, when he was sent to findthe supposed North West Passage to the Atlantic.De Fuca’s story may have been doubted, but his name and the approximatelocation of his straits were shown on all maps and charts of the region before theauthenticated discovery of Capt. Barkley 195 years later. (1)Walbran’s description of Juan de Fuca Strait as “long lost,” and the Strait’s role in thehistory of attempted discovery of the Northwest Passage, resonate with Vancouver’s ownproject.84sea-based system of trade and transportation) preceded that of Vancouver by half a century,mirroring the lag in settlement of mainland British Columbia behind Vancouver Island.Thus the notion of discovery (and settlement) by sea is profoundly and logically identifiedwith the idea of the region’s origins.The absence in Homesteads and Snug Harbours of the classic trope of origins inBritish Columbia coast history denies sighting, mapping, and naming as necessary activitiespreceding and enabling settlement. In Murray’s narrative of the islands, the pastorallandscape does not evolve from dreams of settlement but is itself the original landscape. Inrepudiating the discovery and exploration phase as historiographical necessity in the GulfIslands region, Murray incorporates, however inadvertently, a key aspect of Gulf Islandshistory. Both discovery and exploration are very qualified notions in the “history” of theGulf Islands, of limited use in identifying discrete phases of post-contact historical narrativeof the region. During the period of intense European scrutiny of the British Columbiacoast in the 1790s (these being the particular journeys to which the local or regional tropesrefer), both the Spanish and English expeditions largely ignored the islands. By the timeVancouver made his third and final voyage through the Pacific Northwest in 1792, he wascertain that the Northwest Passage he had been sent to find did not exist. For Vancouver,the purpose of this last voyage was merely to confirm his expectation and map thecoastline more accurately. In this sense, the third voyage engaged in verification andrecord-keeping; it functioned, therefore, more practically (whatever its rhetorical frame) assurvey rather than as voyage of discovery.Given Vancouver’s emphasis on this last voyage on cartography rather than85discovery (as bolstering claims to empire and as precursor of settlement rather than astextual site of discovery), at least one aspect of the map (that is, the text, both cartographicand otherwise, in which the fmdings of the voyage culminate) that concludes the threevoyages seems anomalous. The name “Gulf of Georgia” appears on Vancouver’s 1792chart of the southern British Columbia coast, but if by this point Vancouver had given upthe hope of finding the Northwest Passage leading east into the continent, the word “gulf’is problematic. The geographical class name “gulf’ denotes a wide bay (often wider thandeep), so large that it can and often does contain the estuary of a very large river,navigable perhaps thousands of miles inland. Presumably, the entrance to the fabledNorthwest Passage would be signalled geomorphically by a gulf into which the straitswould open. The discovery of a gulf in the location of the Strait of Georgia would havebeen the essential prelude to the climax of a narrative describing discovery of theNorthwest Passage. In an exploration journal, the term “gulf’ would necessarily precedethe discursive triumph of “passage.” “Gulf’ locates the focus of imperial desires,funnelling the explorers’ gaze toward the all-important break in the coastline. Even thoughhis ships had made the journey through the Inside Passage, proving that the “gulf’ wasactually a strait, Vancouver allowed the name “Gulf of Georgia” to stand.On a voyage so dedicated to scientific discovery as was Vancouver’s third visit tothe northwest coast, with Archibald Menzies providing a constant, clearly irritatingreminder of that emphasis, the uncorrected name is difficult to explain. The toponymicerror is technical, breaching the conventions that govern the use of geographical classnames. The misnaming alters the topography of the region named, referring to a desired86narrative rather than describing the formal attributes of the region. In 1791, Eliza hadnamed the strait “Gran Canal de Nuestra Señora del Rosario La Marinera,” a name that,unlike “Gulf of Georgia,” accurately reflects the geomorphology of the region. Given thepolite exchange of information between the Spanish and British expeditions in 1792,Vancouver must have been aware of the Spanish name and recognized its technicaldifference from his own. Perhaps Vancouver refused to change the name lest it appear thathe was conceding Spanish cartographic superiority. Or perhaps he was unwilling toindicate quite so emphatically the failure to fulfill his mandate (to find the NorthwestPassage) that the corrected name would imply. Perhaps he intended the name as an ironicallusion to that failure. Alternatively, the name “Strait of Georgia” might have recalleduncomfortably the Straits of Anian that he had not found. That Vancouver replaced atopographically-correct name with an erroneous one suggests that the English expeditioncompeted with the Spanish for discursive possession of the region.Vancouver’s name for the Strait stood until 1865, when the Hydrographer of theRoyal Navy confirmed Captain Richards’ proposal, in 1858, that it be altered to the “Straitof Georgia.” The name “Gulf of Georgia,” however, persists in local usage: forty yearson, Waibran (1906) notes that the strait “is today always locally spoken of as ‘the Gulf”(205) and in the last years of the twentieth century its echoes are found in vernacular usageby older local people.34 The last remnant of its status as formal and authoritative, howeverIn a short article, “About Place Names,” in More Tales of the Outer Gulf Islands, EnCampbell has this to say about the Strait of Georgia: “In 1792 Captain George Vancouvernamed this body of water ‘Gulf of Georgia’ in honour of His Majesty George III. In 1865the name was changed officially but the new title didn’t stick in local parlance” (145).Campbell’s designation of the term “Strait of Georgia” as the “new title” in 1865underscores the extraordinary longevity of “gulf’ as an immutable, perhaps foundational87-its last cartographic presence--remains in the term “Gulf Islands.”35 The name “GulfIslands” rarely appears on maps of the Pacific Northwest or the British Columbia coastproduced by government agencies (except the tourism agencies), though it does appear inthe Coast Pilot,36 where it designates not so much a destination as a route, or waterway, orseries of waterways. The region “Gulf Islands” thus remains unnamed: its name does notdistinguish but rather dissolves. In the Coast Pilot, as in federal government navigationalcharts, the term “Gulf Islands” names not a specific place but a part of the coast as itrelates geographically to surrounding areas--a region, in short. “Gulf Islands” functions asa generally locating title, in the same manner as “West Coast Vancouver Island,” and is theonly part of a chapter title (“Georgia Strait (SE part), Gulf Islands and adjacent channels”)that names not a body of water but land. Among the straits, passages, inlets, sounds,passages, rivers, and harbours in the Pilot’s first six chapter titles, the Gulf Islands take onby association the status not of land but of water: the place indicated is not the actualelement of local language (“local parlance”).In Islands in Trust, David Lott begins his entry on Salt Spring with the followingaccount of the name “Gulf Islands,” the source of which he identifies as Bea Hamilton’s1969 history Salt Spnng Island:It is the largest of the “Gulf Islands.” Strictly speaking, there is no Gulf, only aStrait. In 1854, the nearby waters were called the Gulf of Georgia, but officialsdecided that as there was really no gulf, name should be changed to the Strait ofGeorgia. By then, it appears to have been too late to change the designation “GulfIslands.” In 1962, officialdom acquiesced and the term “Gulf Islands” is nowofficial.” (165)36 The vernacular term “Coast Pilot” refers locally to the federal governmentpublication Sailing Directions: British Columbia Coast, which covers the coast in severalvolumes, updated periodically. Volume I, described as covering the “south portion” of theB.C. coast, includes the Gulf Islands.88islands but the marine spaces between them. In this instance, the term “Gulf Islands”replaces the gesturing, locating phrase “the islands in the gulf’ rather than naming adiscrete place.The name makes the islands a toponymic anomaly, referring to a cartographic sign--the “gulf’--that was incorrect to begin with and whose currency is gradually fading. Theterm “Gulf Islands” is not a place name in the conventional sense: rather than using theusual binomial form combining geographical class name with a designation thatparticularises that individual topographical entity, “Gulf Islands” combines twogeographical class names. In the process, the term “gulf’ ceases to function as ageographical class name and becomes descriptive--but descriptive of what? Other classname binomials are formally recognized on the British Columbia coast: the ChannelIslands off Salt Spring, Cove Cliff in Indian Arm, Island Harbour and Island Cove in theBroken Group and in Toflno Inlet respectively, and Harbour Island, in the entrance to PortEliza (Esperanza Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island) are some examples. Noneof these names appears in Waibran, which is not surprising since by their nature these areunlikely to be choices of explorers or surveyors, who lean toward more “distinctive” names,as Captain Parry puts it. This group of names speaks in an idiom of familiarity, of theintensely local: they depend upon having the horizon under one’s eye, on immediatereference to the landscape, and therefore can have meaning only in local usage. The namesthemselves thus suggest the existence of a local people, since they depend on and emanatefrom the local knowledge of long-standing residents. The descriptors do not differentiatebetween specific topographies in a way that would have currency outside the extremely89local context. In effect, each of these names contracts a determining directional gesture,replacing definite articles and prepositions with syntactical proximity. The descriptorindicates the location of the feature named, but the syntactical relation between elements ofa place name where both parts of the name are geographical class names cannot always beknown, and the implied prepositional relationships sometimes slip their moorings. In thecase of Island Cove and Island Harbour, the relation between the two names is ambiguous,since without local knowledge of the area, these names cannot distinguish between anisland in a cove or harbour and a cove or harbour located on an island: the contractionblurs the gesture that the missing preposition would indicate. Contractions are a commonfeature of popular, familiar idioms in most languages, where the ellipses cause difficultiesonly for non-native speakers. Exactly the same phenomenon operates with these names aswith the term “Gulf Islands” (a contraction of the phrase “the islands in the gulf’), theresult not of an individual decision, at a precise moment, to assign a name to a place, butrather the product of repeated, collective experience, names that develop from or within alocal vernacular.Since the name “Gulf Islands” refers to the name used popularly but not officiallyfor the region in which they lie--the “Gulf of Georgia”--that name reflects a relation to orexperience of landscape and region more populist and less imperial than most other placesin British Columbia or on the coast. The region “Gulf Islands” cannot be said to have beennamed in the imperial sense at all; the term does not appear in Waibran, an omission thatusually indicates a name applied or regularised fiçi Richards and Parry made their90surveys.37 But in this case, why a name should come into local usage more than fifty yearsafter its referent--the “Gulf of Georgia”--is no longer officially culTent is difficult toexplain. It is more likely that Waibran was well aware of the term “Gulf Islands” butsimply omitted it since, lacking an authoritative source for the name, its “origin andhistory,” the subject of Waibran’s book, could not be known. Alternatively, Walbran mayhave decided to omit it if the precise region named by the term was as ambiguous in 1906as it has been since. In this sense, the name seems to emanate from the region itself ratherthan from imperial or individual intentions. The name is the result of settlement--offamiliarity--not a precursor to it: it draws attention to the notion of region, itself a popularconstruction that refers to local experience. Rather than reaching beyond the region for itsmeaning, the Gulf Islands are named in the vernacular. Like the other geographical classname binomials on the coast, the term “Gulf Islands” floats free from the imperial project--despite its indirect origin in Vancouver’s voyages--referring not to outsiders’ desires for theregion but to intimate experience of living locally, in the landscape. The place name thussignifies possession through familiarity, through the state or experience of being local.The names of individual islands in the group also disrupt the identification ofnaming with discovery that obtains so comprehensively elsewhere on the British Columbiacoast. Except for Anvil Island in Howe Sound (named by Vancouver) and Saturna (namedby Narvaez), none of the current Gulf Islands names derives from the late eighteenthThe two other standard authorities for toponyms on the British Columbia coast areLyn Middleton’s Place Names of the Pacific Northwest Coast (1969) and G.P.V. and HelenV. Akrigg’s British Columbia Place Names (1986). Both depend heavily on Walbran:rarely does an entry in either of these later works include information on Gulf Islandsnames not mentioned in Walbran. Neither of these sources includes an entry on the GulfIslands.91century voyages of discovery except indirectly (where islands were named on thesevoyages, no other names survive). In the case of Gabriola, the Spanish name has survived,but the Spanish seem not to have known that what they were naming was an island ratherthan part of Vancouver Island. With few exceptions, the islands were fonnally named byCaptain George Henry Richards during his survey of the coast in the Plumper from 1857 to1861 and in the Hecate from 1861 to 1863. Even though the precedent of discovery,considered as the crucial, foundational trope of imperial history that establishes precisemoments and places of imperial presence and knowledge of the landscape to be claimed, isso fragmentary in the Gulf Islands region, Richards does his best to recreate the sequenceof arrival, not only of English discoverers but of Spanish and even American also. TheSpanish explorer Narvaez (under Eliz&s command) had discovered and named Porlier Passin 1791, and the following year Galiano and Valdés, forced to abandon English Bay toVancouve?s ships because of the wind, made a virtue of necessity by navigating the passafter being blown south across the Strait to the outer islands. To commemorate this event,Richards named Valdes and Galiano, the islands bordering the pass on the north and south,adding the names of their ships, Mexicana and Sutil, to the hills on both islands.If, however, Richards had intended to acknowledge Spanish priority in the outerislands, he should have commemorated Narvaez and Eliza, whose 1791 charts of the westside of the Strait were used by Galiano and Valdés in 1792. This omission does notoriginate with Richards, however: the final, cumulative map the Spaniards made of theirdiscoveries on the coast in 1791 and 1792 is labelled “Carta Esférica de losReconocinientos hechos en la Costa N.O. de America en 1791. y 1792. por las Goletas92Sutil y Mexicana y otros Buques de S.M.” The “otros buques” were, in the Strait at least,the Satumina, under Eliza’s command, and the San Carlos, under that of Narvaez. TheSpanish chart itself does not commemorate the details of priority. As well as Mount Sutiland Mexicana Hill, Richards named a third hill, on Galiano, after Juan Francisco de IaBodega y Quadra, sent by the Viceroy at Mexico to restore the Spanish lands at NootkaSound to the British Crown, in the person of Vancouver, in 1792. The geographicalproximity of the third Spanish name to the others, and the topographical alignment of thesethree principal summits, suggest that the event Richards celebrates is not exploration anddiscovery (Quadra was never in the Strait) but rather contact with Captain Vancouver in1792, the culmination of Vancouver’s three voyages in the chart dated that year. Narvaezand Eliza arrived in the Strait a year too early to be commemorated in the names of GulfIslands.Since non-indigenous settlement began on a measurable scale on Salt Spring in1858, and on most of the other large islands in the 1860s, naming the Gulf Islands regionoccurred simultaneously with--not prior to--settlement. According to Walbran, the namesRichards gave the islands were his own choices rather than regularisations of namesalready in common use. Among the few exceptions (mainly in the islands clustered aroundthe Sidney peninsula) is Salt Spring, which Walbran attributes to officers of the Hudson’sBay Company. Salt Spring is the only place where a name given by Richards could notgain currency, but had to give way to the earlier, popular name: at the same time, it is theonly place where Richards ignored or superseded local conventions in names. Walbranattributes to Richards a deliberate strategy that explains his abandoning his own usual93practice of inventing new names only in the absence of local usage:Regarding the name of Admiral Island, Captain Richards when surveyinghere evidently wished to associate the island with Rear Admiral Baynes,commanding at the time, 1857-1869, the Pacific station, his flagship, staffand offices &c. He therefore named the highest mountain, Baynes, and theisland, Admiral; Ganges Harbour after the flagship; Fulford harbour after thecaptain; Burgoyne Bay after the commander; Southey point after theadmiral’s secretary; Mount Bruce after the previous Commander in Chief;and Cape Keppel after a friend of Admiral Baynes. (436-7)Richards rarely uses names that refer to qualitative aspects of the landscape (as “SaltSpring” does) or to the passage itself. The names he assigns to Salt Spring Island refer tothe naval hierarchy under whose aegis Richards makes the survey rather than to inherentproperties of the topography. Richards seems to have intended Admiral Island to be atoponymic climax to his survey, choosing the largest island in the Strait to commemoratehis superior officer in multiple ways.The entry on Salt Spring Island is one of the few instances where Walbran disruptshis alphabetical arrangement of place names. Although the names of various topographicalfeatures on Salt Spring appear in their appointed places in the text, they also appear in thisparagraph in the Salt Spring entry. This paragraph rearranges the island’s place names,replacing alphabetical order with a sequence that echoes British naval hierarchy. Inarranging the names in descending order of naval precedence, Walbran reiterates thehierarchy of topographical features that Richards implies through his toponymic relations.To have named one prominent feature--the island itself--after the principal rank on thePacific Station and its most visually striking (because highest in altitude) element after theperson holding that rank implies that topographical features ç be arranged hierarchically.In drawing attention to the relations between Richards’ place names for Salt Spring,94Waibran concurs with the notion that this hierarchy corresponds to a topographicalhierarchy. The sequence of Walbran’s account echoes that hierarchy yet again. InWaibran’s sentence, the narrative prose he generally uses gives way to a list whose purelydocumentary nature he does not bother to camouflage with stylistic variation: the parallelstructure of each item in the list reveals precisely the point--that the relations between partsis orderly. Walbran does break that structure slightly--by introducing the preposition“after”--following the island and highest mountain (syntactically echoing the necessarydistance between the commanding officer on the station and all other elements of the fleetsubordinate to him). The last three items, whose relations to the prevailing naval hierarchyare somewhat blurred, pose problems of precedence; hence Walbran separates them fromthe naval hierarchy proper, where relations between elements are clearly fixed byconvention.Most of Richards’ names for individual Gulf Islands refer to the internally coherentworld of the British fleet on the Pacific station. In naming Mayne, Pender, Denman,Mudge, de Courcey, Kuper, Pylades, Thetis, Samuel, Piers, Prevost, Moresby, Parker,Portland, and Knapp Islands, Richards commemorated the ships and officers on the stationduring the making of the survey and in the preceding decade. Richards thus used thecircumstances of his immediate task to name the islands, the most prominent topographicalfeatures of the Strait. Rather than showing a lack of imagination or a sycophantic desire toflatter his immediate superiors, this toponymic strategy deliberately emphasizes theimportance of Richards’ survey to the imperial status of the region, specifically the islandsthemselves.95Once it became apparent that the Oregon Treaty ruling (1846) on the location of theinternational border between British Columbia and the United States was so vague as to beunusable, Richards was appointed Second Boundary Commissioner and given the task ofmaking the survey of the Strait in order to bolster the British claim to the San JuanIslands.38 The names he gave the islands--the topographical features that would define theboundary--establish British naval (that is, military) presence in the region both at the timeof the dispute and previously, but also commemorate the role of his own ship--the act ofmaking the survey--as testimony to a British claim to the islands, especially San JuanIsland. Richards named the two islands closest to the dispute (other than Saturna, whichhad been named by Narvaez in 1971), for his own two most senior officers, and the bodyof water, south of Mayne and east of Pender, that leads into the area of contention, afterhis own vessel. By concentrating allusions to the survey in the precise location underdispute, Richards called attention to the imperial act of naming, which characterized thisparticular survey to the extent that it began to resemble initial discovery, the pre-eminentgrounds, in the previous century, for claiming imperial possession.By the mid-nineteenth century, however, British economic presence in the regionhad also become significant grounds for claiming possession. Richards named the largestchannel in the outer islands, lying west of Pender, Swanson Channel: the Swanson inquestion was not a British naval officer but an officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company.38 Richards may have deliberately used the names of the Spanish explorers for three ofthe major islands (Gabriola, Valdes, and Galiano) in order that the idiom of Spanish namesmight make a linguistic link with the islands in Puget Sound that the Spanish mapped andnamed in 1791 and 1792 (as they had Saturna). Multiplying Spanish names across theStrait unites all the islands (which the British were claiming) into a single toponymic (andhence geographical) unit.96Richards also named Smart Island (which became American territory) after an HBC officer.In departing from the navy in choosing these names, Richards actually bolstered the Britishclaim to the region: Stuart had been for many years a powerful force in the region, beforemoving north to the company offices in Nanaimo, while Captain John Swanson, accordingto Walbran, “was a witness (evidence taken on commission, in 1871), in the San Juanboundary dispute, on behalf of the British government. . . “(480). In applying theHudson’s Bay officers’ names to these places in the islands in 1859, Richards gesturestowards an authority of settlement and trade--that is, of activity in the region--rather thanthe authority of discovery and naval presence. The few place names that Richardsregularised during the survey were either names given by settlers or names created byofficers of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Swanson’s role in the boundary dispute was totestify to the colloquial notions of boundaries shared by people who lived and traded in thearea. Collective habits of thought carry an authority that can challenge the desires ofimperial cartography: the presence of sufficient numbers of settlers in the region to affectnaval toponymic practice underscores the degree to which settlement occurs concurrentlywith discovery in the Gulf Islands.Across the Strait, Vancouver himself had named Howe Sound and had certainlypenetrated to its northeast extremity, naming Anvil Island, quite small compared to itsneighbours but occupying the crucial horizon in Vancouver’s gaze toward a putativenorthwest passage. The descriptive name suggests that the islands were unimportant toVancouver, objects merely of curiosity upon which whimsical names could be bestowed.In naming the other islands in the Sound, Richards followed not Vancouver’s cue of97physical resemblance in the name of the island but rather his commemorative impulse innaming the Sound. Thus Richards’ names turn back to the imperial centre, uniting thegeographical nexus of European imperial conflict during Vancouver’s voyage with thereason for Richards’ own presence in the Strait--the boundary dispute with the UnitedStates whose questions of imperial possession would be settled not by naval conflict but byarbitration, for which his own survey was crucial evidence.In 1792, Howe must have been very much on the minds of British naval officers inthe Pacific Northwest. Already retired from the Admiralty and made an earl, Lord Howein 1790 commanded the Channel Fleet in the “Spanish Armament” (the Nootka affair),which forced the Spanish to relinquish Nootka Sound to the British. In a manner ofspeaking, therefore, Howe Sound could be considered a local name, referring to events onVancouver Island as much as to the navy itself. Two years after Vancouver used Howe’sname, Howe again took command of the Channel fleet and won the battle of the “GloriousFirst of June.” As Walbran notes with great approval,Captain Richards, R.N., who made the survey of Howe Sound, 1859-1860,followed up Vancouver’s name by giving to all the principal islands, points,passages, and mountains in and around the sound, the names of the shipsand officers engaged in Lord Howe’s celebrated victory of June 1, 1794.(256)Richards’ toponymic echo is for Walbran the single most felicitous decision in the namingof coastal topography, for Richards packed in references to the battle across the Sound.Each of Richards’ place names in the Sound enables Walbran to tell the story of the battleagain, detailing career histories and ship commissions and changing the narrative anglewith each new entry to cover every aspect of the battle. The group of names in Howe98Sound extends the notion of toponymic pattern of commemoration applied to a discrete andconfined space that Richards first used in naming Salt Spring Island and its principalfeatures. Waibran’s explanation of Richards’ name change from Salt Spring to AdmiralIsland reveals not only the logic motivating Richards’ rhetorical strategies in toponymy butthe reason for Waibran’s own encyclopedic thoroughness and passion for his subject.Richards self-reflexively acknowledges the tradition he follows in this pattern ofcommemorative naming by calling a point on Gambier Island after Admiral Sir CharlesEkins, celebrated principally not for his success at sea but for writing “Naval Battles ofGreat Britain, from the Accession of the House of Hanover, reviewed” (1824). Richardsthus refers as much to the convention of commemorating events in naval history as to theevents themselves. Richards makes the Sound itself a historical text, a document recordinga single complex event. The survey is the grammar that orders the elements of that text.It is fortunate for Richards that Vancouver associated this Sound with Howe, because themany islands in the Sound--multiple in themselves, further multiplying coastlines--giveRichards a broad enough page on w