UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

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

You don't seem to have a PDF reader installed, try download the pdf

Item Metadata


831-ubc_1995-060497.pdf [ 9.02MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0088407.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0088407-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0088407-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0088407-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0088407-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0088407-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0088407-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

EVERYTHING BECOMES ISLAND: GULF ISLANDS WRITING AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF REGION by ANNE PATRICIA RAThER B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1983 M.A., Concordia University, 1987 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of English) We accept this thesis as conforming  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1995 © Anne Patricia Rayner, 1995  ______________________________  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department  of  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  ,  l9%  ABSTRACT  Literary conventions in the writing of the Gulf Islands of the British Columbia coast have “invented” the islands as a distinct region. Lying at the centre of the Strait of Georgia urban region, the islands function as objects of pastoral desire: in representing escape from the city, they are perceived as “natural” by contrast. The landscapes of the Gulf Islands posit a version of “nature” radically different from that common elsewhere in Canada. The protected waters of inland sea and archipelago, benign climate, naturally-occurring alternation of forest and meadow, and defining liminal zone of the beach make the local landscape seem inherently pastoral. As does the pastoral mode, the tropes of discovery and settlement provide convenient, familiar frames for neo-colonial experience of nature and representation of landscape. Using a broadly historical approach, the thesis traces the longevity of local landscape conventions since Spanish exploration of the islands in 1791 and 1792. Rapid population growth intensifies the dominance of the pastoral, while tropes of discovery and settlement give newcomers and established residents the rhetorical means to claim origins in the Gulf Islands. The need to establish origins shapes community politics, which are codified in the Islands 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 conventions for defining Gulf Islands space and for writing the history of the islands. Chapters Three and Four discuss the tropes discovery and settlement, respectively, and Chapter Five focusses on characteristic narratives used to express the notion of “Gulf Island.” Chapters Six through Eight revisit the themes of the previous three chapters, inverting the order of discovery and settlement in the second cycle to reflect the ahistorical, simultaneous invocation of these ideas locally. Whereas Chapter Five demonstrates how one Gulf Island version of pastoral dominates the region’s presentation of itself in imaginative writing, Chapter Eight examines the consequences for local narrative when events cannot be articulated within the pastoral mode. As a counterpoint to analysis, in Chapter Four, of how settlement functions as a rhetorical device in Gulf Islands writing, Chapter Six examines aspects of the physical, settled landscape--specifically architecture and the ornamentation of holiday homes and hornesites with objects gathered from the beach--as deliberate expressions of indigenousness. In a similar pairing, Chapter Seven examines nostalgic uses of the “discovery” trope intended to express local space, extending the scope of Chapter Three, which explicates attitudes toward the 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 very recently has the idea of a Gulf Islands “canon”--as indicated by intertextual references between Gulf Islands texts--become current, Gulf Islands writing continues to rely on intertextual references to imperial foundation texts to define, and determine significance in, local landscape. The “sketch” form, which permeates all genres and modes of landscape representation in the islands, in itself articulates the “natural” and thus expresses the condition of “Gulf Island.”  11  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iii  List of Figures  iv  Acknowledgements  vi  Introduction  Why Region?  Chapter One  Home Waters: Gulf Islands Regions Part One Without the Tongue: Defining Region Part Two Seven Types of Pastoral: Admiring the Sheep  31 33 43  Chapter Two  An Indefinite Space: Gulf Islands Histories  63  Chapter Three  We Found an Archipelago of Many Low, Small Islands: Discovery  82  I  Chapter Four  Back to the Slashing: Settlement  122  Chapter Five  Trailing Narrative  153  Chapter Six  Is There a Text in this Chicken Coop?: Settlement  179  Chapter Seven  The Green, of Varying Tints and Shining: Discovery  240  Chapter Eight  Crnising Narrative  274  Chapter Nine  Sites and Stories: Intertext and Indigene  302  Chapter Ten  At Sea in the Woods: Authority and Authenticity  322  Conclusion  Everything Becomes Island  354  Envoi  373  Works Consulted  374  111  LIST OF FIGURES  3  Fig. 1. The Gulf Islands Region Fig. 2. Engraving of Malaspina Galleries, Gabriola Island  116  Fig. 3. Chart from Malaspina and Galiano Expedition, 1792  119  Fig. 4. Biggins House: Beach Log Spiral  208  Fig. 5. Leaf Retreat: Beach Log Post  209  Fig. 6. Community Hall: Main Entrance  210  Fig. 7. Ngan House and Studio: Totems  212  Fig. 8. Ngan Studio: Driftwood Beam Entrance  213  Fig. 9. Co-op: Main Entrance  214  Fig. 10. Community Hall: Stackwall, Plaster, Driftwood  215  Fig. 11. Community Hall: Round Room  220  Fig. 12. Biggins House: Exterior  222  Fig. 13. Leaf Retreat: Exterior  223  Fig. 14. Cape Gurney House: View from Waterfront  223  Fig. 15. Ngan House: Roof Detail  224  Fig. 16. The Shire: Entrance  225  Fig. 17. Burrow House: Kitchen  226  Fig. 18. Leaf Retreat: Glass Walls  227  Fig. 19. House Boat: Gooseneck Barnacle  228  Fig. 20. Sorenson House: Main Entrance  229 iv  Fig. 21. Sorenson House: Central Aisle  230  Fig. 22. Ngan House: View from Meadow  231  Fig. 23. Cape Gurney House: View from Meadow  232  Fig. 24. Ellis House: Tree House Room  235  Fig. 25. Lloyd House’s Boat House  235  Fig. 26. Burrow House: “TV Totem”  237  Fig. 27. Burrow House: Roof  238  V  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would like to thank my supervisor, Laurie Ricou, for his immediate and continuous interest in this project, and his support and suggestions. Professors W.H. New and Eva-Marie Kröller also offered much appreciated support and criticism. I am extremely grateful to Michael McNamara of Blue Sky Design, who gave me access to the firm’s slide library, and permitted me to copy slides for this study. All of the photographs in Chapter Six appear by courtesy of Blue Sky Design. This dissertation is dedicated to my husband, Jeremy Rayner; who suggested that scholarship might be compatible with the Gulf Islands, and who made the sacrifices that brought us back to live there.  vi  Introduction: Why Region?  1.  Local patriotism rests on the intimate experience ofplace, and on a sense of the fragility of goodness: that which we love has no guarantee to endure. Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia, 101  Pastorals ancient and universal appeal--to come away--requires new examination in an age in which there is no away. Glen Love, “Et in Arcadia Ego,” 198  In the West some beginnings are still remembered. Cole Harris, “The Emotional Structure of Canadian Regionalism,” 13  Crevecoeur. unwittingly reveals in the latter portion of his Letters to an American Farmer that the only really new persons are those who have forsaken white civilization for the tribes. As long as we keep ourselves busy tilling the earth,’ he says, ‘there is no fear of any of us becoming wild.’ And yet, conditions being what they were then, it was not that simple. It was not always possible to keep one head looking down at the soil shearing away from the bright low blade. There was always the great woods, and the life to 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, 244-45  Chronology is the temporal equivalent of a Euclidean space: both are operationally efficient because they deny the historical nature of the realms they manipulate. Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay, xix  And everything thick, a kind of hair in the world., even the earth her boots sank into, powder earth composed of rootlets and fir mulch, a fibrous mass [sic] Daphne Marlatt, Ana Historic, 40  2  In Canada, the term “region” describes huge geographical areas--the Maritimes, the “east,” central Canada, the Prairies, the West Coast, the North--that can span whole provinces or even several provinces. The Gulf Islands of the southern British Columbia coast, by contrast, lie in Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and the mainland and between Comox in the north and the Saanich Peninsula to the south. They cover a relatively 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 to Statistics Canada Census information, 15,428 people lived in the Islands Trust Area in 1986).’ Despite being dwarfed by the national or continental scale of the Canadian notion of region, however, the Gulf Islands constitute a region as sharply differentiated and culturally distinct as any other “region” in Canada. Whether this regional identity can be verified 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 the boundaries of the Gulf Islands region (Figure 1). Many other versions of what constitutes the “Gulf Islands” still exist, despite (or in opposition to) the Trust’s definition, but the Islands Trust area is the only legal definition of that space. Just as the Islands Trust  These 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 widespread acceptance to the idea of the islands as a region is the difficulty of collecting information about the area. The islands are not considered a discrete area by Statistics Canada, and such information as the federal government disseminates must be laboriously gleaned from accounts of the separate islands. The Islands Trust has nothing like enough funds necessary to conduct its own statistical research on the area.  3  The Islands Trust Area  Fig. 1. The Gulf islands Region From: Thomas Ovanin, Island Heritage Buildings (1984)  4 is not the central focus of this dissertation, the degree to which the Trust designation differs from local variations on what spatial arrangement is meant by the term “Gulf Islands” is only 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’s boundaries) rests on conventions of representing the islands, however constituted, as a discrete place, a region separate from the surrounding British Columbia, or Pacific Northwest, coast. As a site of political debate over the islands, the Trust embodies habits of mind and language that can be traced through writing about the islands over the past  two centuries. My subject is not directly the politics of local space but the rhetoric that informs 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,” the whole 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 primary materials for this study and planning the dissertation: I originally conceived of this project as 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, are transformed into icons of Gulf Island-ness. I abandoned the notion of iconography in favour of a study identifying and analysing rhetorical patterns of the local--beginning with 2  Beardsley’s poem physically and discursively traces a line away from the last lines of my conclusion. I refer to two descriptions of the island landscape that emphasize the insubstantial nature of that landscape: as Beardsley writes, there is “nothing to touch.” His title both echoes the grounding of this study in a personal experience of landscape, and brings the path of the dissertation back to the beginning again, underscoring the point that this study cannot be the final word on the subject.  5 precisely the urge to define the characteristics of the local that had prompted my earlier approach--in order to investigate why the impulse toward assembling and using a local iconography is so prevalent in Gulf Islands writing. The icons I identified, among which ferries, driftwood, and the arbutus are conspicuous examples, tend to be repeated from one island to another: such repetition indicates shared conventions that group islands together into a rhetorical region. Problematically, however, these icons are used to represent not solely or even principally a Gulf Islands region but individual islands which j iirn stand for the condition of “Gulf Island.” The shift from the singular island in the phrase “everything becomes island’ to the plural islands in my subtitle reflects the ambiguous relation between the archipelago and the individual islands in the group as rhetorical constructs. The common practice of considering one Gulf Island (or aspects of that island) as a metonymy for the whole region calls into question the validity of the notion “Gulf Islands region,” but I interpret that blurring of the distinction between two spatial entities as a determining characteristic of Gulf Islands writing, since fluid relations between the local and the region helps define Gulf Island space. In the Canadian context, the word “region” carries connotations of populist resistance to centralized federal power: depending on the region, this power is perceived to reside in “the east,” in central Canada, in Ontario, or in Ottawa. In the Gulf Islands, all of these locations of control obtain, but they are complicated by other oppositions: to the rest of Canada beyond the Rocky Mountains, to the rest of the province beyond the Coast Mountains, to the urban centres--Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo and their suburban  6 peripheries--that surround the Gulf Islands, to the Regional Districts (rural versions of municipal government) around the Strait under whose jurisdiction the islands fall, and to the Islands Trust, a specially created government body intended to permit greater local or community 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 initially overwhelmingly British--continue to reflect English culture, not solely, however, by replicating the landscape and literature of the imperial centre, but by persisting in defining local space in reaction both to that centre and to all the other poles against which the islands define themselves. The crucial, paradoxical element of Gulf Island neo-colonialism is that here, immigration means not recreating a remembered imperial past but repudiating that past: the immigrant to the islands “goes native,” shedding earlier constructions of self  Formed by the provincial government in 1975, the Islands Trust is “the local government agency responsible for land use planning for the islands and water in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound” (“Framing Our Common Future”). Each of the thirteen main islands in the area has two elected trustees, who elect from among themselves an executive council to oversee the Trust (the core islands are Bowen, Denman, Hornby, Gabriola, Galiano, Lasqueti, Mayne, North and South Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, and Thetis). The Trust has authority over only a very few aspects of Gulf Island life, all of which stem from issues of land use. For all other municipal purposes, each island is assigned to the regional district closest to it: in all, the Gulf Islands fall into seven different districts. Given their physical separateness from these districts, and their relatively low tax base, the islands are generally 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 Gulf Islands, island schools also belong to off-island school districts with very different priorities and problems than island schools. The Islands Trust itself is compromised by the fact that it is funded largely by the provincial government, rather than by local taxes: since much of the islands’ land area is owned by forest companies, and timber revenue is a crucial source of provincial income, for example, Trust objections to industrial-scale logging cannot be enforced.  7 in favour of identity as a Gulf Islander. Entering Gulf Islands space means crossing the beach into nature. 4 This tendency does not reflect a persistent imperial interest in the islands, but rather results from the great influence of nineteenth-century English adventure fiction on those who visit, emigrate to, and write about the Gulf Islands. The ability to use these fictions as interpretive frames for making sense of a place depends upon the degree to which the islands can be perceived as “natural” space, as undisturbed, that is, by previous imperial activity. 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 not the significant factor in identifririg that space: rather, the crucial criteria of this “natural’ t space are the absence of previous texts and the absence of settlement. Neither are these requirements absolute, however, since what is necessary is apparent or perceived absence. Apparent absence permits the imaginative colonization of Gulf Island space; it also permits the emigrant an illusion of priority that naturalizes all evidence to the contrary. The rhetorical vehicle by which this naturalization occurs is the pastoral mode, through which evidence of settlement can be stripped of its colonial implications and made to read as uncolonized “nature.” This dissertation demonstrates the rhetorical processes that operate in the Gulf Islands 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 project of colonization in the Marquesas in the South Pacific. For Dening, to cross the beach is to cross the cultural boundary from the colonizing power to the colonized place: the colonizer abandons the imperial project--to recreate in a new place the society left behindand divests himself of his original culture in favour of identifying himself entirely with the culture of the new place.  8 language, imagery, and intertextual references by which Gulf Islands writing demonstrates a particular ideology of the local. My thesis rests on the principle that the islands are generally defined as “natural” space, in contrast to the places--variously perceived as notnatural--against which the Gulf Island region distinguishes itself. 5 As a concept by which the Gulf Islands are defined, “nature” consists of one pole of a juxtaposition with an  The Islands Trust implicitly rests upon this notion of the islands as natural space: it is primarily this characteristic that the Trust is intended to promote and maintain. Among the first steps taken by the Trust after its formation in 1975 was the compilation of a comprehensive “Natural Areas Study,” a key Trust document that identifies the natural amenities of the individual islands and ranks them according to their vulnerability and value. The term “Islands Trust” announces an inherently conservative, and conservationist, ideology: the Trust’s motto--”to preserve and protect”--resonates with the familiar law enforcement motto “to serve and protect.” In 1988, a group of volunteers assembled a book, Islands in Trust that supports and describes the influence of the Trust on the individual islands in the Trust Area: in the summer of 1991, many of the same volunteers began a periodical to serve the Trust Area and promote the Trust. The title of the periodical--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 use perceive in the Trust a program of imposing conservationist values on the islands and enforcing those values through control of bylaws and zoning regulations. In 1993, a disaffected 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 rhetorical function of “liberator” as opposed to the regulatory, inhibiting connotations of “trust” codifies the polarity over how “nature” is interpreted in the islands. The Liberator’s viewpoint perceived “nature” in the context of frontier ethics, as freedom from restraint and government interference. As if this polarization were not enough to make the Trust’s role difficult, the unspoken context of the notion of “nature” and of initiatives such as the “Natural Areas Study” is that “nature” is perceived by the provincial government, the source of the Trust’s mandate and funding, as primarily a recreational resource. The Islands Trust Acts of 1975 and 1989 give the Trust the task of overseeing land use in the islands not only in the interests of islanders but in the interests of all other residents of the province also. In setting up the Trust in this fashion, the provincial government codified the idea that the islands’ 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 the interests of residents, who resent the increased noise, pressure on ferry transportation, traffic on island roads, and harvest of fish and shellfish that visitors entail.  9 undesirable state from which the islands represent an escape. For the most part, that state is 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 its topography and indigenous, wild flora and fauna remain undisturbed by human presence in the landscape. To the degree that this undisturbed state is perceived, that state eliminates the perception of human presence also. The term “pastoral” participates in a similarly subjective range of interpretations. I use the word “pastoral” here both to indicate a series of constructions of local nature as intrinsically beneficent and to signal the rhetorical means by 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 I have suggested. The nostalgic connotations of the pastoral mode, furthermore, permit a foreign space--as the islands must be to immigrants--to be “recognized” as home, a crucial element in the neocolonial rhetoric that operates locally. The identification of Gulf Island space with nature is so pervasive as to seem invisible; it penetrates statements--both verbal and non-verbal--about local identity to an overwhelming 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 construct that enables people to claim a personal connection to this place. In order to understand why such claims might be required or desired, it must be recognized that the population of the Gulf Islands grew by more than 25% in the five years between the 1986 and 1991 census counts, a figure that the Islands Trust states is “among the fastest growing in  10 6 Even though the enormous scale of development that increased the number of Canada.” lots--and hence potential population--exponentially in the early 1 970s has been curbed by the Islands Trust, many thousands of those lots remain undeveloped more than two decades later. The rate of building on those lots has been steady, however, and continues to increase: since the creation of a subdivision in the islands usually means little change in the actual topography, other than the building of roads and a proliferation of surveyor’s tape, it is easy to read subdivided land as “natural,” since it is usually covered with secondgrowth 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,” immigrants to the islands find themselves resented for disturbing the appearance of “nature” that their predecessors have assumed to be inviolate. Once this repeated chronology of arrival and disturbance 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 those politics penetrate every aspect of community life. To be able to discuss the genealogy of land tenure becomes the mark of a local, that is, indigenous person: but acquiring that 6  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 Municipal Affairs 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 views about the future of the Trust Area. The flyer was unusual in that it addressed not the concerns 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. On Gabriola, 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: the anticipated sale of much of the island’s area by Weldwood of Canada. The Gabriola version of the public forums suggested that islanders had little sympathy for the idea of a Gulf Islands region, at least as that idea is represented by the scope of the Islands Trust.  11 knowledge requires losing the sensation of living in a natural, unclaimed place. This genealogy, however, remains a subject for conversation 7, a way to position oneself, face to face, with neighbours and other islanders, rather than entering into written representations of the islands. In writing, the rhetoric of belonging shifts radically back to constructions of the Gulf Islands as natural. The pressure of increasing population makes the rhetoric of belonging a crucially important factor in being comfortable, at home, in the islands, both for recent immigrants and for those who came earlier but feel themselves competing for space--both physical and discursive--with more recent arrivals. The fact of immigration explains why the two most persistent tropes in that rhetoric of belonging have been “discovery” and “settlement,” both Cole Hams mentions the importance of conversational material in “The Emotional Structure of Canadian Regionalism” (1981): ‘  Even today, genealogical conversation is a Maritime staple, a reflection of communities whose people have known each other through the generations. In the West such conversation is rarer for the local texture has been different, having less of custom and the generations and more of movement, technology, markets, and memories of other places. (16-17) The topics of Western conversation that Harris identifies are strikingly absent in the Gulf Islands, 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 but that of visitors to the islands also. I do not distinguish between insider and outsider views of the islands, primarily because I have found many more points of similarity than contrast between the two. Visitors often appeal to the islands as “home,” thus invoking a variation of 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, as if writing postcards. The notion of a common cultural and literary landscape binding the Gulf Islands into a region must thus include, in my view, the perspective of those who do not live there. The mandate of the Islands Trust, to preserve and protect the islands not only for residents but also for all British Columbians, sets a precedent for including in construction of the region views of the islands from elsewhere.  12 of which rest on the notion that upon arrival in the islands, the immigrant engages with a natural landscape unmediated by previous arrivals. Paradoxically, however, these tropes also dominate visitors’ descriptions of the islands, who have as much--perhaps more--of an investment as island residents in perceiving the islands as natural. The tropes thus function as statements of origins and as claims to authentic Gulf Island experience. As elements in colonial narrative, both iropes require identification of the islands as “natural” space, since “discovery” describes initial recognition of a new landscape, while “settlement” similarly records the act of being the first to inhabit that landscape. Both of these terms invest heavily in the notion of priority, and in the Gulf Islands they retain the colonial implications that such priority is the principal, perhaps only, grounds on which a claim to possession of land can be made. In the islands, where such claims are the moral basis of local politics of belonging, these terms carry enormous rhetorical weight. In the context of Canadian literature, the trope of “discovery” as frame for both landscape 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 analysis of historiographic metafiction examine the strong tendency in western Canadian fiction to recover and reread tropes of discovery and exploration as sites of engagement with landscape and identity. Both Ian McLaren and T.D. McLulich have discussed the trope as a literary convention (particularly the variations on the persona of the explorer or discoverer) in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century exploration narratives in the Canadian west and north. Graham Huggan’s analysis of maps and mapmaking tropes in Canadian and Australian fiction examine another variant on the discovery trope. Maria Tippett and  13 Douglas Cole have traced the influence of British coastal explorers on representations of the British Columbia coast landscape. Since the Gulf Islands are not recorded in any English exploration narrative as the genre is understood by these commentators, the use of  the discovery trope in the islands does not refer to local historical fact. Mary Louise Pratt considers the discovery trope to be a particularly Victorian invention for articulating imperial engagement with a new landscape. Rather than the taxonornic procedures used by followers of Linnaeus, or what Pratt calls “the poetics of science” 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 for the home audience the peak moments at which geographical ‘discoveries’ were ‘won’ for England” (Imperial Eyes, 201). Since the Gulf Islands did not receive attention from English imperial travellers (namely the Royal Navy) until the mid-nineteenth century, the dominance of the discovery trope in representations of the islands is not surprising. Pratt perceives three separate conventions operating in the English version of “discovery”: the traveller aestheticizes the landscape, seeks “density of meaning” in that landscape, and establishes “a relation of mastery between seer and seen” (202). Despite the reduction of the trope to a much simplified, less directly imperial version in Gulf Island writing, the same conventions apply. The ultimate purpose of those conventions, however, is quite different in the Gulf Islands. By contrast, as opposed to “nature,” “wilderness,” or “the land”, “settlement” is not a term that has much currency in Canadian criticism, much less on the coast. In the United States, the connection between “settlement” and the west was firmly codified in the  14 discourse of the “frontier”: in Canada, however, that discourse did not operate (or operated on a much reduced scale). As a trope in Canadian literature, settlement is identified predominantly with the prairies, the landscape that corresponds most directly to the notion of “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 with sea rather than land--is to disrupt a convention of the notion of literary regions in Canada so automatic as to seem inevitable. The trope of “settlement” has very little valence on the Canadian west coast, and has received little if any attention either in coastal literature or in criticism of that literature. In examining that trope in the Gulf Islands context, I follow not Canadian critical models but the example of Paul Carter’s assessment of how the settlement trope functions in the spatial history of Australia. With regard to both tropes, I am aware that my approach bypasses complex issues of power and privilege that the tropes “discovery ’ and “settlement” often embody. In the t case of the Gulf Islands, the imperial structures to which the tropes allude have little local significance. This is not to say that European displacement of indigenous peoples no longer occurs in the islands, quite the reverse. But the rhetoric of Gulf Islands ideology is not primarily directed toward justifying that displacement: rather, the discourse that invokes tropes of settlement and discovery concerns the competing claims of European presence in the region. Tracing the use of discovery and settlement tropes in Gulf Island representations forms a core around which I have structured the dissertation. To investigation of those tropes as vehicles for identifying with the local, I have added analysis of representative  15 narratives also intended to make that identification. In addition to the pastoral mode and tropes of discovery and settlement, I have found that certain kinds of narratives are used in the 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 define and to claim indigenousness. These stories are limited in scale, lacking developed plots and characters, and thus resemble anecdotes rather than literary texts. Nearly all imaginative writing about the islands--and much non-fiction also--uses some variation of the sketch, a form associated with colonial culture: in the islands, sketches are used in the place of declarative statements to illustrate the character of the local place, just as anecdotes illustrate a person’s character more efficiently than description in biography. Furthermore, the telling of local stories in itself constitutes indigenousness: local conventions of narration--conventions both of subject and of form--confer authenticity on those who use them. My study thus combines analysis of foundational tropes suggested by The Road to Botany Bay (1987), Paul Carter’s spatial history of Australia, with William Cronon’s insistence on the connections between narrative and place in writing history, principles that he describes in “Nature, History, and Narrative” (1992) and illustrates in his history of Chicago’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 discovery tropes and on narrative: despite my methodological models’ being historical, however, the structure of the thesis is not deliberately or strictly chronological. Having discussed these three local rhetorical modes in Chapters Three, Four, and Five, I then devote three further  16 tropes and on narrative: despite my methodological models? being historical, however, the structure of the thesis is not deliberately or strictly chronological. Having discussed these three local rhetorical modes in Chapters Three, Four, and Five, I then devote three further chapters to discussing them again. Doubling the central chapters illustrates that the notion of a history of the Gulf Islands as a rhetorical construct is problematic since, rather than constituting a series of changes, whose development can be traced as a logical sequence, the rhetoric of the local endlessly replicates foundational tropes of beginning. Variations do occur over time, as in response to the environmental politics of the late twentieth century, for example, but the variations pale in comparison to the remarkable persistence of the basic tropes. The chronology that is implied in considering the two tropes--discovery and settlement--together does not obtain in the islands, because neither is used locally to initiate a sequence, but rather to identify and arrest a specific moment that in itself encapsulates experience of the local. Narratives of encounters with Gulf Island topography are similarly consistent. Chapter Four discusses how the pastoral as a rhetorical mode overwhelmingly dictates both form and plot of Gulf Island narratives, while Chapter Eight demonstrates what happens to local narrative conventions when actual experience in the Gulf Islands radically transgresses those conventions. Like the double chapters on tropes, however, the discussion of Gulf Island gothic in Chapter Eight further demonstrates the profound degree to which pastoral is considered the only appropriate narrative frame for the islands. The scholarly literature on the pastoral is extensive, and the modes in which the term is applied virtually endless. William Empson’s Some Versions of Pastoral (1935)  17 demonstrates 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 power relations between social classes in England. Sixty years on, Lisa Robertson, writing in a Canadian context, describes pastoral as “the nation-making genre”: “within a hothouse language 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 political  practices of genocide, misogyny, and class and race oppressions” (95). My discussion does not find the pastoral operating directly in any of Ernpson’s versions, or in Robertson’s, but the Gulf Islands pastoral, in all j varieties clearly has a political function. In general, the identification of the islands as pastoral utopias is common to all representations of the islands (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 utopian character resides. 8  8  In Canada, the pastoral is widely perceived as irrelevent--even grossly misleading--as a frame for interpreting the Canadian landscape. In his 1943 review of A.J.M. Smith’s anthology of Canadian poetry, Northrop Frye applauds what he perceives as “very little Tarzanism in Canadian poetry.” He finds that “few really good Canadian poets have though that getting out of cities into God’s great outdoors really brings one closer to the sources of inspiration” (209). Frye’s repudiation of nature as a source of literary inspiration constitutes a rejection of a major variation of the literary pastoral. Gaile McGregor suggests in The Wacousta Syndrome (1985) that pastoral has no place in representations of the Canadian landscape. To use the pastoral, in her view, is fundamentally to misrepresent the inherent character of that landscape. McGregor’s position parallels Frye’s, who finds in Smith’s anthology proof that “the outstanding achievement of Canadian poetry is the evocation of stark terror,” the “immediate source” of which “is obviously the frightening loneliness of a huge and thinly settled country” (209). As will become clear in my dissertation, the Gulf Islands have never been perceived as “a huge and thinly settled country,” quite the opposite. Despite scholarly challenges to both Frye’s and McGregor’s theses, critical studies devoted specifically to pastoral in the Canadian landscape, or the landscape of any region in Canada, are noticeably absent. Margaret Atwood’s Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972) has had an enormous influence in  18 function as a frame for engagement with the natural landscape. The pastora l, 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 the landscape destroyed in its name as the noble ruins of a great endeavour. As Meeker points  out, the implications of this great endeavour for the integrity of nature and the natural landscape are catastrophic: he locates in pastoral assumptions about appropriate relatio ns between humans and the non-human world that destroy both social relations and the natural world. Given that the two aims of pastoral as identified by Meeker can be readily observed operating in the Gulf Islands, albeit on a limited scale, the implications of the pastoral for the local are alarming. The current study, however, is not intended as a critique of Gulf Islands ideology but as a study in the relationship between the landscape and writing of a particular place. I use the term “Gulf Island writing” throughout the dissertation as a deliberate alternative to the expression “Gulf Island literature.” I include in the notion of “writing” other modes of expression than the purely verbal, particularly architecture. As I discuss in the conclu sion, 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 absenc e of most of the imaginative writing about the Gulf Islands from this dissertation may nonetheless seem strange. One crucial convention of Gulf Islands writing, howev er, is that a literary landscape, considered in the sense of a collective identification of a particu lar place or topography with a particular author or literary work, cannot be said to exist in the islands. It would not have been possible, for instance, to structure this dissertation as  19 Frederick Turner does his book Spirit of Place: The Making of an American Literary Landscape (1989). In that book, Turner visits places associated in the collective American consciousness with individual authors who have ‘made” those places by writing about them in literary works, specifically novels. In the Gulf Islands, by contrast, local histories and autobiographical cruising narratives overwhelmingly displace imaginative writing (by which I 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’s view 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 to something 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 literary traditions as such” (“The Regional Novel,” 110). This “something” is the subject of my study of Gulf Island writing. In attempting to locate that “something,” I based my methodology primarily on Prairyerth (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 through local 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 a complexity and texture that makes intimacy with it as intoxicating as encountering an alien land. This process describes not only movement through the landscape, but, as Least Heat Moon demonstrates, through its history, legends, language, prejudices, economics, food, literature--its culture, in short. Clifford Geertz uses the term “thick description” to describe  20 the anthropologist’s version of this approach. I have used Least Heat Moon’ s model to approach the Gulf Islands through a kind of triangulation of local rhetoric: changing the angle through which I view the textual landscape and passing through it more than once gives me a clearer view of the relationship between the points I perceive. The two studies that most closely resemble my own in the Canadian context are Gerard L. Pocius’ book  .  Place to Belong: Community Order and Everyday Space in Calvert, Newfoundlan d (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 betwee n a community’s self-identity and the reality of its dynamics also resonates with elements of Gulf Island ideology. The extremely local, rural focus of these two studies offers a precedent for my own work, though neither is specifically concerned with representation s of place in writing. Comparison with Pocius and Rayside, however, also raises a significant point of difference between their studies and my own: I have chosen not to use as primary sources oral testimony or my own observation of local rhetoric in use at community meetings, on the ferries, at dances and other social events, in conversations overheard in pubs and restaurants, or exchanges I have had with island business owners , to give some examples of encounters that have illustrated for me many of the proces ses I describe in this dissertation. Instead, I confine myself to printed materials and, in the case of Chapter Six, to physical structures. In the absence of other scholarly investigations of Gulf Islands writing, I felt it was important that the primary materials discussed in this study be readily accessible to anyone who wishes veriu’ those materials or challenge my  21 interpretation of them. 9 Like Prairyerth, the dissertation is a palimpsest rather than a chrono 0 logy.’ Prairverth is by no means a history of the Flint Hills, but the history of the place resides in the book: in the book’s structure, chronology gives way to the region’s key spatial arrangements of county grid and watershed. Like Least Heat Moon, and like Carter in his Also, I wanted to avoid writing from an anthropological standpoint, since my own position as a scholar is inevitably complicated by my being a resident of the islands. This study is the indirect result of many childhood summers on family property on North Pender, and of renting, with my husband, homes on Galiano and Mayne for several months. After years in Québec and Ontario, we came back to the west coast, finally buying 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), we moved to Thetis Island. These five are the islands I know best, but I have also visited Gambier, Bowen, Salt Spring, Denman, and Hornby. My acquaintance with the islands is clearly by no means complete, and my own viewpoint has often been that of the tourist rather than the resident. But the notion of the islands as the site of my “field work” (which an anthropological approach would imply) from which I would return to the academy, does not accommodate the fact that the islands are also my home. My entirely personal assessment of the limitations of Gabriola is an example of my own engagement with this project: I am motivated in this study by the same impulse toward definition of the islands that I discern in the primary material I analyse. My motivation is similarly political: I share the conservationist standpoint represented by the Trust, whatever my reservations about its actual practice. To a large extent, I have tried to keep my own biases out of this study, primarily because in Canada, as opposed to the western United States, the personal essay is not regarded as an appropriate mode for scholarly studies of landscape and literature (to use both terms broadly). In order not to edit myself out of the project entirely, I have used footnotes to include my own experie nce in the main line of argument. 10  This dissertation resembles PrairyErth further in that it echoes Least Heat Moon’s practice of prefacing each chapter in that book with a substantial group of epigraphs. Least Heat Moon describes his epigraphs as extracts “from the commonplace book”: the idea of a commonplace book informs several Gulf Islands works, also, as I mention in my conclusion. The epigraphs for each chapter of the dissertation are arranged in a sequen ce that loosely sketches the line of argument in that chapter. In that they stitch togethe r scraps of scholarly commentary and local writing, the epigraphs resemble a patchw ork quilt, another key Gulf Islands image. A Gulf Islands Patchwork (1962) is the best-kn own local history of the islands, and arguably the most highly disseminated source of “Gulf Islands” among the works I discuss.  22 account of Australia, Cronon makes spatial relationships--specifically the polarity between an urban centre and its hinterland--the fundamental fact of Chicago’s identity. Despite their emphasis on space, all three writers treat local history as a source of insight into the coordinates of local identity. Local history is the means by which people who consider themselves indigenous to a place tell themselves the stories in which that indigenousness originates. All three of these cultural historians find in local histories rhetorical strategies intended to invest those spatial relationships with historical inevitability. Echoing the way in 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 Islands as 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 with how intertextual references contribute to constructions of the Gulf Islands as a distinct region, 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--which consistently borrow material from local non-imaginative writing, especially local histories.”  The category containing the greatest number of Gulf Island books is guide books, a form that most directly disseminates and reflects popular constructions of the islands because 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 other sources of information about the islands: previous guide books, local histories, anthropological and archaeological works, sailing directions, eighteenth-century exploration narratives, and field guides. The guide book form, moreover, cannot be considered a local characteristic: most guide books belong to series in which the same structure is used no matter what the place being described: the local tends not to influence how guide books are written. Very few guide books refer only to the Gulf Islands: most include the islands with other areas: generally Vancouver, the San Juan Islands, Victoria, or Vancouver Island. Similarly, very few can be considered guide books in a pure sense: most consider  23 This absence of local intertextual references stems from the same impuls e--the need to ignore previous activity (or in this case previous texts) in order to claim priority--that makes discovery and settlement such attractive tropes. Chapter Ten demon strates that the absence of local mtertexts accompanies the heavy use of literary intertexts from outside the region, especially nineteenth-century English novels of adventure that use islands as sites of narrative escape and transformation. It is a peculiarly local practice, also, to quote not the actual literary text referred to but a cultural memory--partial, selective, often errone ous--of that text. Finally, I argue in my conclusion that the characteristics of Gulf Island writing (and architecture) that I have discussed--including tropes of discovery and settlement, pastora l narrative frames, the sketch medium, the “craft” aesthetic--all demonstrate a desire to interpret island culture and identity as fundamentally natural. At this point, topogr aphy becomes secondary to the consequences of rhetorical constructions by which that topography has been described. The consequence for the region’s writing is an anti-lit erary bias that defines the region by deliberately rejecting high culture in representing that region. To have structured my analysis as a study of the “literature” of the islands would thus not only have required making an arbitrary distinction between literary and unliter ary writing but would have profoundly misrepresented a fundamental code of the region’s representation. Casual references are often made to the islands as places, either individually or collectively, that support a “community” of published, literary writers , but individual writers--such as Jane Rule--deny that such a community exists, or that it would the islands from the point of few of one or another forms of recreational travel: kayaking, cruising, hiking, bicycling, diving, or (in one case) pubbing.  24 be welcome if it did exist.’ 2 Writer 1s groups abound in the islands, but these are almost invariably the sphere of amateur, untrained writers, the point being that writing is considered a craft that any islander feels free to try, rather than an elite art whose practice separates writers from the rest of the Gulf Island population. In the islands , local culture has 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 satisfy automatically makes much of the critical theory that currently dominates literary criticism inappropriate for this particular place. In particular, a region that defines itself so adamantly through neo-colonial rhetorical strategies does not lend itself to analys is through a postcolonial perspective. As opposed to literature relating to other parts of British Columbia, Gulf Island writing is anomalous in that it almost entirely ignores referen ces to First Nations, autochthonous presence in the region as a means of connecting to or interpreting that space, or of producing an “authentic” literature of that region. The question of appropriation of voice, a key issue of postcolonial criticism, does not arise locally. The avoidance of First Nations inhabitation of the islands by Europe ans is not the  12  In her 1981 essay on the notion of “community” on Galiano (“Stumps”), Rule repudiates the notion that the island’s writers (or any other category of islande rs) fonn a “community”: When the CBC tried to do a program suggesting that we are turning into ai artists’ colony, everyone scoffed, including the people interviewed. Becaus e there are a number of independent women living here, rumor in the San Francisco bars has it that this island is about to be renamed Lesbos. If I ever did find myself in an artists’ colony or lesbian community, I’d move. (187)  25 subject 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 land use practised by the Halkornelem, a Salish people, in whose territory the islands lie. The individual groups speaking the Halkomelem language (Pentlatch, Sechelt, Squamish, Halkomelem, and Straits) define their territories as stretching east/west from Vancouver Island across Georgia Strait and the islands and many miles into the interior of the mainland. The annual cycle of food gathering and ritual involved movement from one side of the Strait to the other: the Gulf Islands were not the site of permanent villages but rather temporary, summer places for gathering roots and berries and fishing in the passes between the islands. Their presence in the islands, therefore, was more intermittent than in other parts of the province. 13 The physical traces of their presence are also much less visible than on other parts of the coast, especially the northern territories of the Haida and Kwakiutl. Salish material culture tended not to use the huge trees of the rainforest (not readily available here in any case) for totems and massive longhouses, so the great shoreline 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 permanent 4 their culture rather flourished in fibre--Salish weaving and Cowichan sweaters artifacts:’  13  In Maps and Dreams (1981), Hugh Brody has shown that Europeans tend to consider First Nations peoples’ seasonal, intermittent use of land--especially for hunting and gathering--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 that unlike the culture groups on the north coast, the Salish have no tradition of pole art, and little in the way of carving in wood on a large scale. According to Stewart, the finest wood carving among the Salish was confined to animals depicted on spindle whorls, a form that underscores the importance of fiber, centring on the weaving technique the Salish developed that uses a two-bar loom, to Salish art forms. The Salish have also made much  26 (the latter a post-contact development) being the best-known modern survivals of those skills--which not only deteriorates much more quickly than wood but does not command the same presence, to European eyes, as ritual objects from farther north. The only residual evidence of Salish culture in the island landscape consists of the intensely white clamshell beaches and the shell-flecked ash soil of their middens at the water’s edge, and petroglyphs carved in sandstone. Both are easily overlooked, the shell beaches and middens simply because they appear to be naturally occurring, if they register on non-indigenous consciousness at all, and the petroglyphs because they are often inaccessible, often hidden beneath thick layers of moss, and soon eroded when exposed to the elements. Crucially, too, even when petroglyph images are found and recorded by white immigrants to the region, they cannot be resolved into recognizable icons, much less linked to an oral culture that tells stories about the images. Salish legends of the local landscape have been collected, just as other aspects of Salish culture have been subjected to anthropological study, but the link between verbal and visual narratives that operates so directly elsewhere on the coast does not exist here. Local bands state that they themselves cannot interpret the petroglyphs beyond recognizing them as sacred images. 15  less 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 Islanders about the petroglyphs on the island: the audience--entirely non-First Nations--had expected to be shown the petroglyphs and to have the images explained to them. Instead, the elder did not leave the parking lot where interested people had been told to gather, and his discussion of the petroglyphs consisted not of exegesis but of a plea for help in protecting the glyphs from vandalism (from both individuals and from land development) and an explanation of the spiritual importance of the petroglyphs to the band. By contrast, in the 1993 book They Write Their Dreams on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings in the Stein River Valley of British Columbia, Annie York, a First Nations elder, explains the iconography of individual images.  27 In consequence of this absence of physical and textual presence in the Gulf Island landscape, it is not difficult to perceive the landscape as previously uninhabited, even by indigenous peoples. The practice of “quoting” First Nations culture that so deeply characterizes non-indigenous regional writing on the British Columbia coast cannot obtain in 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 to play a part in defining the local. The absence of the indigene makes a key aspect of postcolonial criticism--exposing and challenging colonial representations of indigenous peoples-irrelevant here. The scope of my dissertation--European constructions of Gulf Island space--thus omits Halkomelem versions of that space, not because they do not merit attention but because they do not influence the neo-colonial rhetorical strategies by which immigrants to the islands construct that space. 16 Comparison of Salish with European immigrant spatial perceptions would constitute a quite different project from that which I undertake here. In a place where immigration perpetuates colonial rhetorical strategies long after the imperial 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 a more efficient term, however, in this study I use the word “European” to mean everyone  16  Especially rich scholarly sources of Halkomelem notions of Gulf Islands space are Wayne Suttles’ Coast Salish Essays (1987) and David Lewis Rozen’s thesis Place-Names of the Island Halkomelem Indian People (1985). Testimony collected by the Comprehensive Claims Branch of Indian and Northern Affairs for the purpose of settling local land claims also suggests how the Salish perceived their territories. See, for example, Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, “Traditional Territorial Boundaries of the Saanich Indians” (1991).  28 except the First Nations culture groups who consider the islands to fall within their traditional territories. Nearly all residents of--and most visitors to--the Gulf Islands are of European descent, though they often emigrate to the islands from other places in North America: despite the strong Asian presence in surrounding urban centres, especially Vancouver, people of non-white racial backgrounds rarely live in the islands.’ 7 Marie Anne Elliott has described the Japanese-Canadian population which farmed very successfully on Mayne before the Second World War, a piece of racial history that Jane Rule incorporates into her novel After the Fire (1989). The presence of several black families among the first settlers on Salt Spring in the 1 850s, has also been described in local histories, but in both cases, it is questionable whether these exceptions to the European social landscape in the islands have had much effect on collective notions of the islands as a region. I recognize that my decision to use only print materials in this study gives disproportionate weight 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 to form the impression that the islands, at least until the Second World War, were populated 17  In a curious local anomaly, representation of “Gulf Island,” especially in architecture and in other visual art, often incorporates an Asian aesthetic, or rather, an aesthetic based in 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 and Japanese practices (see Toni Onley: A Silent Thunder (1981)). The Hornby Island woodbutcher style of architecture sometimes incorporates Japanese motifs into its statements of the local. Such references are rare in writing about the islands, though they do occur: Jane Rule incorporates Japanese settlement in the islands in her novel After the Fire (1989), while Lorna Crozier records Gulf Islands adoption of Japanese landscape values in her poem “Crossing Willow Bridge”: On the farm a willow bridge though this is Saltspring island not Japan.  29 exclusively by this social group. I am well aware that such was not the case, and this study 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 whatever distance there might be between those conventions and an external reality, the degree to which those conventions perpetuate the notion of the islands as enclaves of expatriate British-ness is another of my findings. The apparently racially homogeneous population of the islands does not disturb--it rather reinforces--neo-colonial attitudes, and thus inhibits a local version of postcolonial discourse. In the absence of genealogical claims, the immigrant to this place requires language and narrative to demonstrate or claim local authenticity. The rhetorical constructs I examine in this study are intended to define local authenticity, and by extension indigenousness. This dissertation is itself a survey, both in the literary sense of a broad discussion of selected texts belonging to a particular place and in the colonial sense of mapping initial, arbitrary co-ordinates by which that place, as a textual construct, can be organized and described. I have not been immune to the prevailing Gulf Island preoccupation with issues of authenticity and indigenousness: my preoccupation has been as much to write an “authentically” Gulf Island work as it has been to observe the standards and conventions of scholarly enquiry. Since the Gulf Islands have never before received scholarly attention as a constructed or “written” region, the usual corpus of scholarly criticism a dissertation both rests upon and challenges is missing in my case: in the absence of critical apparatus upon or against which to articulate a critical position, I have tried to allow local texts themselves to suggest lines of enquiry, rather than to impose  30 on this highly local culture models of critical analysis borrowed from other places. Rather than codifying a regional literature, I intend this study to initiate a dialogue through which a semiotics of Gulf Island can be discussed.  31  The Anacortes-Sydney Run  In my best dream I have crossed the border and my coins are wrong. Without the tongue I 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 own these islands. The shade of green on one could be Canadian, but firs and grebes are mine. The latest run of Springs are 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 dream I am living here, contented and alone. That house is mine. The blue smoke rising means I’m cooking. Constant knock of water means I’m drunk, enjoying private jokes and 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 deck admiring the sheep on what turns out to be the final island before landing. I woke up dead among these islandsthis boat chugging in a bad directionthe north I go, my wake already failing.  Richard Hugo  Chapter One Home Waters: Gulf Island Regions  I had previously decided that most of my serious studies were going to be undertaken above latitude 52° in regions where I would encounter few people and a great many more lfe forms, so this run off the east coast of Vancouver Island, while pleasant on a day like we were enjoying, was nothing more than travel time, necessary miles that had to be covered before we reached the waters and coastline that really interested me. R.D. Lawrence, The Voyage of the Stella, 69  Up to now for most US. boaters, the Guif Islands have been only a protected alley in getting from Here to There. No more. This sensiblyorgan ized book will make them a Destination. Walt Woodward, backcover blurb, Gunkholing in the Gulf Islands  Passing Porlier Pass, we caught a glimpse of the broad peaceful Gulf and almost wished we were taking the outside passage, but the unlimited variety, the never ending wonder and delight of the scenery of these islands through which we are now passing, more than compensates for the dfference. “A Landsman,””The Cruise of the Mineola,” 33  We wandered through a maze of waterways where islands, or even whole groups, suddenly detached themselves from a solid shoreline to confuse us. Then having thoroughly identified themselves as islands, they performed a disappearing trick by merging again with the green wooded shores when we looked for them astern to get a bearing. “This country leaps about so,” I protested. Kathrene Pinkerton, Three’s a Crew, 88  The mainland seemed to loom threateningly against the horizon; the channel they were crossing felt to Zoe in a state of disorder--lumpy islands strewn sloppily about, no rhyme or reason to their disposition among the waters of Howe Sound; she could easily believe that they habitually changed their  33  positions, just to be perverse. L.R. Wright, A Chill Rain in January, 117  You know where you are with an island. It is where you are, and no mistake. The water wraps you round and seals you off and everything else is 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 I mean 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, 39  Then the channels began to have some definite direction, and the islands sorted themselves out--the right ones standing forward bold and green; the others retiring, dim and unwanted. M. Wylie Blanchet, The Curve of Time, 67  Take a flat map, a globe in piano, and here is east and there is west as far asunder as two points can be put. But reduce this flat map to roundness, which is the true form, and then east and west touch one another, and all are one. So consider man s lfe aright to be a circle. John Donne, Sermon XXVII, Folio of 1640  Part One: Without the Tongue: Defining Region  Sidney (48°39’N., ]23°24’W.) is a residential community which is also a ferry terminal used by the Washington State Ferries, operating to and from Anacortes, Washington.  Government of Canada, Sailing Directions: British Columbia Coast (South Portion), 117  Richard Hugo’s “wrong” coins pun on the elusive cultural currency of region in the  34 Pacific Northwest, a particularly American concept of a space that links Oregon and Washington with Alaska, while paradoxically (or ambivalently) including and excluding Canadian space lying between. The notion of Pacific Northwest thus conceptually connects the northern uncontiguous state with its contiguous counterparts across the border. If a coast can destabilize these topographical and political barriers, the Gulf Islands--defined, divided, and challenged by coast-ness--constitute a region whose borders waver, whose limits both proliferate and restrict. “The Anacortes-Sydney Run” hovers on the threshold of a region that includes neither of the places named in its title but lies between them. Like the poem, Hugo’s voyage crosses the border into a place where a notion of region obtains as other spatial definitions dissolve, that dissolution becoming a marker, a signpost  the region. This  apparent paradox mirrors a cluster of similarly contradictory elements in the poem: at the same time that it speaks in the idiom of travel writing, of the literary gloss on quest and insight that the genre demands, the poem also echoes a discourse of tourism, of reduction to characteristic images and conventional interpretations in which guidebooks are written. Against the self-reflexive meditation on the experience of foreignness that is the subject of much travel writing, Hugo erects the endlessly-recurring structures of tourism. The confusion of available models for writing the foreign is exacerbated by the element of home-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, the landscape it traces, to domestic, prosaic space. In the first stanza, Hugo’s “best dream” requires foreign-ness, the terrifying yet  35  exhilarating dislocation that lack of language--lack of cultural currency--bestows on the traveller. The region’s very inexplicability energizes Hugo: unlike the detached writers who keep their eyes on distant mountains, finding there “evidence of God,” which they translate into “bad poems,” Hugo can only gesture and sweat. The writers in their cabins ignore the immediate landscape through which they travel, focussing instead on the distant prospect: 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 as little direction to this space as the literary conventions of the sublime. If region cannot be apprehended using literary landscape conventions, perhaps the border can fix the mind on definitions. But Hugo veers away from political abstraction into absurdity--ownership of islands means as little as ownership of colour and entire species of wildlife. The omission of definite articles indicates not specific individuals but the entire genus, the ja of firs and grebes. The salmon, whose “runs” echo the cycles of movement suggested by the poem’s title, perhaps offer a salutary model of movement through this space: migration as a recurrent, oscillating pattern, rather than a single, imperial act. The “worst dream” confirms the inappropriateness of possession, rather than travel or tourism, as the grounds for regional identity: Hugo here touches on one of the major tropes of Gulf Island desires--the dream of owning an island, or at least a reasonable facsimile of an entire island. Solitude and contentment, the core of the pastoral vision that keeps Gulf Island real estate and literary desires in motion, offer Hugo no convincing cues to region. But this notion of indigenousness springs from ubiquitous, highly-simplified versions of island pastoral, the state of being-at-home interpreted through dim cultural  36 memories of tropical island seclusion, little different from the distant proofs of God in mountain vistas. The two sentences that follow, placed so that the verb “means” begins two lines in succession, invoke the guidebook and foreign language phrase book, in which the dictionary form mimics the field guide, a prosaic alternative to the means of landscape representation offered by the language of the sublime. The reference to meaning suggests that the entire poem is about codes, signs, and definitions of place or region: the semiotic imperative impels the poet’s frustrated attempts to find words. In the second stanza, Hugo invokes two versions of landscape perception, one visual, the other aural. In the first, he turns the notion of indigene into a deflating image of domesticity: the culturally-encoded “smoke signal” of European codes for North American indigenous people, never appropriate to the Pacific Northwest in any case, is a tourist’s notion of indigene, of unreadable, threatening signs of native, hostile presence and intent. As Hugo suggests, such signs, being so heavily encoded as to be familiar to the point of cliché, are thoroughly naturalized into the known, familiar territory of home. In the phrase “constant knock of water,” Hugo complicates the issue of indigenous language still further: his aural sign, the “knock” announcing presence at the threshold of domestic space, is produced by water, the non-human background to the landscape. This sentence resists interpretation until the codes are detached from expectations of landscape and the fixed, interior space of the previous sentence: constant knock of water and walls that begin to roar accompany the bowing--the rising angle of the bow--of a boat underway and picking up speed. One interior space is exchanged for another. Hugo shifts the tenns of placement and context from island to house to boat until these environments merge,  37  blurring the boundaries that define them (each in terms of the other). Perspective is a problem 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 and last stanzas. The middle stanza turns viewpoint--the critical point of origin for landscape appreciation--inside out: the “island” (singular) becomes centre (“I am living here”) while the direction “that house” makes life on the island peripheral, as is reiterated by the return to the boat. In his complaint about the Coast Guard, Hugo equates the public institution of control and protection with its physical manifestation in the boat. The Coast Guard here stands for another definition of region: the territory and mandate--the scope, in short--of a regulating power. The very term “Coast Guard,” ambiguously joining two nouns, can be interpreted 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 the stanza, “[tjhe law protects the San Juans.” Exactly the same notion of law obtains in the Gulf Islands, where debate over land use and the resulting effects on landscape takes place within 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 similar conflicts in the Gulf Islands about the mandate and responsiveness of the Trust to island residents. The third stanza returns to the paradigm of voyage rather than settlement, and to a cluster 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 as  38 another state of not dreaming (“I woke up dead”). Here Hugo combines images of the Stygian voyage with the pre-elninent image of pastoral--the admirable sheep. The last sentence (the final three lines of the stanza) is even more enigmatic than the rest of the poem, resisting syntactical as well as semantic analysis. Syntactical confusion culminates in the penultimate phrase-- “the north I go”--inverting subject and object, making “go” a transitive verb, making the self its object, making north the agent of voyaging. Perhaps death is the final abstraction, the unchartable region--to conceive of “a bad direction” is to apply 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 already fading”), and neither the tools and language of cartography nor definition through literary allusion have currency in this region.  Why this poem? Why begin a chapter setting out the case for a Gulf Island region with 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 of nationality--qualify as a Gulf Island literary work? The act of migration, of movement through waters that are local and foreign at the same time, fundamentally describes experience, both American and otherwise, of Gulf Island space. The international boundary that must be crossed--physically and psychically--for an American to enter the Gulf Island region is only the most obvious of the boundaries through which that region emerges from undifferentiated space. Yet the region’s borders remain ambiguous: the international  39 border, which defines people by their place of habitation, is invisible. The stone markers that physically trace the border on the mainland have no equivalent on the water. Neither can the border be enforced with physical barriers at sea; in the islands, crossing the international boundary does not require asking anyone’s permission. As Hugo implies by undermining the notion of national “ownership,” the notion of nationality is irrelevant in the islands: except for the Salish, whose notions of territory and belonging preclude the idea of “ownership” in any case, everyone is immigrant to the Gulf Islands. Even those born in the islands are descended from immigrants, and are so vastly outnumbered by those born here that they barely impinge on the dominant immigrant perspective. Making the passage into Gulf Island space initiates the impulse to define that space: immigration is thus a crucial factor in how the islands are constructed. The tenor of Hugo’s reverie and the poem’s structure and discursive models all characterize the preoccupation with interpretation that the Gulf Island landscape appears to require. The poem oscillates between the literary voice of the self-referential traveller and the laconic voice of reductive iconography. The juxtaposition of two mutually-antipathetic discourses parallels a similar clash of perspective on region: the inevitably self-absorbed outsider as against the indifferent, smug resident. Yet Hugo makes both of these positions inadequate. He refers also to the mode of the ubiquitous field guide, often as dictatorial a sign (or text) of region, a defmition based on the notion of “range,” as any other textual guide to region. The phrase “firs and grebes are mine” suggests that to sight and identifr indigenous flora and fauna is to own region (as field guides imply), to be able to claim indigenousness for oneself on the assumption that recognition confers possession. Unlike  40 the field guide, however, which values the distinction between species--signified by Linnaean Latin names and by similarly two-part common names, always capitalized--Hugo uses lower-case, single-word contractions of proper names only (firs rather than Douglas firs, 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 salmon generally, a usage that implies an intimate knowledge of the various species of salmon and their habits. Here, however, Hugo rejects the notion of ownership (“far too international too claim”), whether through intimacy or any other means. The possessive pronouns in the last line of the stanza, however, complicate the notion of “nature” and its contribution to competing notions of region. Despite the poem’s mythic allusions, especially in the last stanza, to literary constructions of the voyage as the passage to death (or of the soul after death), and more general references to the often portentous conventions of the quest narrative, Hugo constantly undennines these cultural frames of reference. The title alone, with its direct statement of the scope of the voyage, mitigates the “universal” scale or significance of those allusions. “The Anacortes-Sydney Run” refers not to a voyage of exploration or self knowledge but to regular ferry service between two small communities, Anacortes in Puget Sound and Sidney on the Strait of Georgia. Here direction is indicated by sequence and a hyphen rather than the prepositions “to” and “from,” suggesting not only the institutionalized labelling of the voyage (the hyphen being the usual grammatical link between ports of departure and destination in ferry schedules) but also signif’ing an essentially static experience. The term “run” implies a fixed route, an endlessly-repeated  41 movement back and forth, rather than a journey or quest. The misspelling of Sidney comments ironically on the scale of this journey compared to the desires Hugo invokes it to satisfy: from Anacortes to Sydney, New South Wales would perhaps be a voyage of epic proportions, whose antipodean goal might support the intertextual weight Hugo assigns it (destination--destiny). But the direction-less hyphen and the prosaic “run” call into question, even mock, the epic baggage accompanying this voyage.  The ironic disjunction  between the voyage and the expectations it creates is precisely the point: in the first stanza, Hugo has already crossed the border and entered that place of foreign-ness that makes him strange. As a literal statement, this intoxicating anxiety in the presence of the Other 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 be literal, since Hugo hovers throughout the poem in the space between the two nations that share that border. This is a directionless voyage; its signposts are voiced and discarded in turn, creating not a sequence but a cluster of partial definitions that cohere only through the homonymic associations of punning: syntax and narrative break down, even sequence obscures direction. Hugo neatly combines two opposing constructions of Gulf Island experience: the traveller who yearns for an alien space without conventions, and the resident, settled into a system of codes that defmes the region and the settler’s place in it. The last stanza defers arrival at the same time as it offers narrative revelation at “what turns out/to be the final island before landing.” The position of the line break in this phrase suggests the impulse toward landscape interpretation that parallels the desire for arrival (the goal of both pilgrim  42 and 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 last stanza, signifjing a shift from beginnings to endings. The islands move from point of interpretive departure at the beginning of the poem, to destinations in the second stanza, to another kind of an ending in the third. Against the solid finality of “landing” with which the third line concludes, the last line ends with “fading,” veering away from finality to dissolution. The same verb form similarly shifts from the concrete noun to the evanescent present continuous verb. The final sentence, comprising the last three lines of the poem, diverts the voyage into another direction (“a bad direction”) or perhaps no direction at all. The dashes with which the antepenultimate and penultimate lines end would seem, grammatically at least, to function quite conventionally to set off the middle phrase parenthetically, but they do not bridge a grammatical space, since the two clauses they separate bear no syntactical or semantic relation to one another. Instead, the dashes point horizontally away from the poem, toward the margin of the page and beyond. They ioop back to the indeterminate hyphen of the title, whose direction remains vague. The clause “the north I go” floats rudderless, its syntactical confusion the logical result of the loose dashes. Paradoxically, it is only in this distorted statement that any specific direction appears--syntactic breakdown, the loss of sequence and relationships between linguistic markers (signs or buoys), makes the 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 an  43 alien space in which conventions of language and other modes of exchange have no currency. In his worst dream, by contrast, the conventional codes of region dictate his experience: the conventions of landscape representation, of travel-writing, of law, of settlement, of ownership, of pastoral retreat, defme and circumscribe the region. Yet both the first and second stanzas assemble a list of normative statements about the region and how it can be read. These lists correspond to the discourse of reference works, by defining, delineating. They belong as much to the dictionary and encyclopedia as to guide books, field guides, and foreign-language phrase books (especially the latter, by virtue of their simplified structures and unambiguous syntax). Only in the final stanza does Hugo abandon these apparent certainties, literally sensible in some places, decodable word-play in others. Here Hugo shifts subtly from the declarative present tense of the dictionary, tour guide, and field guide, to the present continuous mode. The voyage, the definition or mapping of region, is not something achieved and superseded by later actions, as imperial historical narratives would suggest, but a continuous process.  Part Two: Seven Types of Pastoral: Admiring the Sheep  the displaced modern pastoral preserves the theme of escape from society to the extent of idealizing a simpfl/led life in the countiy or on the frontier. Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism, 43  These spores and seeds and bits of invasive root are the treasures I fling backwards, over my shoulder, into the hokey loam of an old genre. Lisa Robertson, “How Pastoral: a Manifesto,” 98  44 Some people who come to Madronna Island never know that they do not become citizens. You are not a citizen unless you know how to stoke the Community Hall stove. Madronna has a vigorous community life centring on the hail, and every event is accompanied by eating and drinking. As almost all of the 64 islanders (or 63 if Captain 0 ‘Grady is in jail on the mainland) are likely to attend this represents work. If you are one of those who help clean the hail for an event, help with the serving offooc4 and help wash up the dishes, you are a citizen. Jean Howarth, Secrets the Island is Keeping, 59  What people in advanced societies lack (and countercultural groups appear to seek) is the gentle, unselfconscious involvement with the physical world that prevailed in the past when the tempo of life was slower, and that young children still enjoy. Yi-Fu Tuan, Toponhilia, 95 The 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 the Gulf Islands. The point is not just that the sheep inhabit the islands, but that the appropriate response to them is admiration: they are to be engaged with, as is the landscape they ornament, aesthetically, though with some restraint (admiration is hardly a passionate response). The pastoral mode functions in the Gulf Islands in variant combinations of pastoral themes, images, and connotations that co-exist and inevitably contradict one another. The pastoral trope is used so extensively in the islands as to seem the inevitable mode of representation, so ubiquitous as to be invisible. Another factor in its invisibility is that the pastoral is applied to such divergent landscapes, climates, ways of living, and narratives as to have become virtually meaningless. The trope’s appearance in the Gulf Islands rarely offers any radical redefinition; this is not the place where post-  45  modern reassessment turns the pastoral back on itself, or inside out, or upside down: it is its very conformity that makes Gulf Island pastoral difficult to perceive and assess. The one departure from the norm is the appropriation of the pastoral for political ends: in the Gulf Islands, the pastoral becomes a political position.’ 8 The Islands Trust’s conservationist origins rehabilitate nostalgia, making it radical as well as conservative. 19 The local usefulness of pastoral as a political idea lies in its appeal to the notion of home. The anomaly in Richard Hugo’s inclusion of pastoral in “The Anacortes-Sydney  18  The pastoral conservatism that informs Trust rhetoric runs directly counter to the social justice agenda of the bioregional movement, a specifically northwest coast--from northern California to British Columbia--product, and one that many Gulf Islanders embrace. One of the leading advocates of bioregionalism is the poet and academic Gary Snyder, one of the premier poets of the Pacific Northwest. Snyder was one of the first to embrace the notion of the earth as “Turtle Island,” a concept borrowed from a First Nations creation story. In “Regenerate Culture! ,“ Snyder suggests that the most important aspect of living in an ethical relation to the land is to stay in one place, to learn not only the local community of nature but to acquire also the stories and origins of local culture. A concomitant principle of bioregional living is to live from the local land, choosing food and materials for clothing and shelter from the local, indigenous environment, rather than those imported from elsewhere. Snyder’s essay is included in Turtle Talk: Voices for a Sustainable Future (1990), one of several books on bioregionalism published by New Society, based in Philadelphia (formerly in Santa Cruz) and on Gabriola Island. Among these is Boundaries of Home: Manning for Local Empowerment (1993), Doug Aberly’s guide to mapping bioregions: Aberly’s M.A. thesis in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia is entitled “Bioregionalism: A Territorial Approach to Governance and Development of Northwest British Columbia” (1985). Despite the currency of bioregional ideology in the province and in the northwest United States, Gulf Island politics rarely invoke its discourse. 19  In the Trust the two ends of the political spectrum overlap as the rhetoric of conservation gives way to that of ecology; a radical idea takes over from a conservative one. Both pastoral and ecology rest upon notions of nature, but the implications of the two are vastly different. Ecological considerations are regarded on some of the Gulf Islands with deep suspicion: in that the Trust has the ability to restrict interference with local ecosystems, many islanders view the Trust as simply another layer of government, intent upon regulating their lives (especially with regard to developing land) in ways they moved to the islands to avoid.  46 Run” is that there pastoral emerges as a feature of travel writing. The pastoral denotes a landscape, and an emotional state (admiration) so domestic, so mild that it is hardly worth going 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 poem articulates a desire for exoticism, for a place across borders where he has no words or coins to exchange in local currency, the appearance of sheep in the final stanza marks a reversal, a turning back toward the familiar. The failure of direction prompts the syntactical reorientation in “the north I go:” the north is the place where pastoral cannot operate, where wilderness--and hence exoticism--necessarily prevail. 20 “The Anacortes Sydney Run” has all the hallmarks of a quest narrative, except that it disrupts its own narrative in every line. In its confusion of subject, object, and verb, the statement “The north I go” is a classic quest narrative: the relation of self to nature is ambiguous in this sentence. No longer does the self as subject, nature as object, and settlement or discovery as verbs dominate the syntax of engagement with nature. Spirit quests enact subsurnation  20  In Orientalism (1978), Edward Said describes a version of the East that attracts the European to foreign travel, the charm of an exotic culture: people who crave the north and therefore wilderness, on the other hand, are searching for the exotic in the absence of culture, 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 the rhetoric of frontier and wilderness, except that north has become a place to disappear into rather than a place in which to settle and to change by the process of settlement. North attracts people who want to be naturalized rather than to change nature to reflect their image; so north also indicates a change in ideologies of nature, from settlement to something that is closer to nature writing, perhaps quest. Aritha van Herk’s novel Fixed Address (1987) posits the notion of losing oneself in north, while Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams (1986) combines nature writing and ecological ethics to ponder the meaning of place, extending into the Arctic the notions of dreaming and desire that Hugh Brody perceived in Maps and Dreams (1981), his analysis of cultural conflict over the interpretation of landscape in northeastern British Columbia.  47 into nature, the voluntary loss of self in order to gain insight. In this poem, the Gulf Island region 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 or suburban, but rhetorically home is rural, specifically pastoral. For these immigrants and visitors, 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 sordid practice--home. The rhetoric of “Gulf Island” overdetermines the region as pastoral. Local landscape connotes pastoral so overwhelmingly that other characteristics of place-economics, social organization, goverument, and politics, for example--appear to fall inevitably into the category of pastoral also. The islands cling to the relics of agricultural land-use to bolster claims to the region’s “rural” character: the degree to which the appearance of a rural landscape coincides with its function is moot, however. The Cool Mediterranean zone, into which the islands on the west side of the Strait fall, often produces natural meadows, small, grassy clearings, that is, that occur randomly in the forest. Visually, therefore, even the natural landscape in the Gulf Islands is inherently pastoral: it does not depend on the mediation of European settlement for its pastoral appearance. This biocliinatic anomaly is only one of many instances in which the lines between wilderness and culture or civilization blur in the islands. On the other hand, since very few farms in the islands are still worked, either for crops or for pasture, the pastoral becomes a charming illusion: the landscape that was once used for these purposes retains its visual integrity, but its persistence depends not on stable conditions but on deliberate steps taken to preserve it. A paradox of pastoral in the Gulf  48 Islands is that it is very difficult to make a living from the land, as the European settlers of the 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 service whose 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 working forests 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 florists in urban centres around the periphery of the Gulf Island region. What is being sold here is not so much a product of the land as the jçj., of nature: salal provides the evergreen backdrop 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 notion of 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 competitors outside the Gulf Island region: they can appeal to the notion of the islands as natural and authentic by comparison with other places. This naturalness and authenticity derive from the nostalgia that accompanies the pastoral: one need only consider the success of pioneer histories like Peter Murray’s Homesteads and Snug Harbours (1991) to recognize how powerful that nostalgia can be. ’ The pastoral has conventionally referred not simply to a 2 landscape but to the figures in that landscape: it has, that is, been associated with certain 21  A measure of that nostalgia is the placement of the word “home” in the titles of both of Murray’s Gulf Island histories, Homesteads and Snug Harbours, a history of the entire region, and Home From the Hill (1994), a collective biography of three English pioneers who settled in the islands.  49 kinds of work on the land, and hence with particular workers. The literary and voluble shepherds of the Greek and Latin bucolic poets give way in nineteenth-century English pastoral to Wordsworth’s leech-gatherer and the peasant child of “We are Seven”: in figures such as these the Romantic pastoral finds not delicacy of feeling and poetry but simpler virtues of clear sight, natural piety, and affection. Since the traditional roles of hunter and gatherer, farmer and shepherd are greatly circumscribed in the Gulf Islands, the pastoral is located instead in various kinds of artisans, a category of work so broadly interpreted 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 with artisans 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 in which art and crafts are sold: with these maps, the Gulf Island region becomes literally delineated or defined by craft. The traditional practices of working on the land--hunting, fishing, farming, and especially forestry--have all acquired varying degrees of ideological incorrectness 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 are perceived as threatening to the pastoral character of the islands, rather than elements of that character. The artisan, by contrast, has little direct effect on the landscape: engagement with nature takes place on an aesthetic rather than physical level. The craftsperson’s “products” manifest the idea of nature rather than necessarily incorporating material removed from the landscape. Those crafts that do require natural materials tend toward those that make little impact on the natural environment: driftwood, shells, fir bark, twigs  50  and branches, clay, herbaceous and annual plants, and surface minerals. Many Gulf Island artisans work in photography, watercolours and oils, processes that require nothing from the 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 processes and the subjects of their work can be perceived as closer to nature than other kinds of work. To take the latter case first, the products of Gulf Island craft either refer selfconsciously to the materials--gathered from nature--from which they are made or represent some natural scene--landscape, in short. These products ground themselves in the intensely local: their marketability depends upon their associations, both actual and ideological, with the islands from and upon which they are made. 22 On the other hand, such direct references are not completely necessary, since the mere practice of craft is enough to designate Gulf Island: neither materials nor medium need be local. In the latter case, the associations of craft with folk memory, with amateur, unsophisticated, simple skills, participates sufficiently in the rhetoric of nostalgia to be included in the pastoral equation of work and the land.  22  For this reason, and because incomes in the Gulf Islands tend to be lower than in surrounding areas, craftspeople must look beyond the islands for markets if they are ambitious for more than a subsistence income. As a result, the financial health of these cottage industries depends directly on a reciprocal relationship with surrounding urban centres. William Westfall distinguishes between formal regions--connoting “an area that exhibits a similarity of features” (7), like the Gulf Islands--and “functional” regions, a term used “to group together the elements that are functionally related within a system” (7), such as what is beginning to be called the Strait of Georgia urban region. The relation between craftspeople and those who buy their products echoes other political and economic relationships that mitigate against the islands’ being a separate region, the role of regional districts being the most obvious example. On an ideological level, however, the “functional” region--the Strait of Georgia urban region--provides the context within which the islands can mark themselves off as separate and special, as a region unto itself.  51 The point of invoking this equation is to establish authenticity: unmediated by the artificial conditions of work that pervert human relations in the city, craft pennits a direct relation not only between the worker and the land, but between the worker and his or her product. In the pastoral setting, the alienation of the worker does not occur, since the means of production are natural. The necessity of work, therefore, does not interfere with the authenticity of the worker’s identity: on the contrary, work reinforces, even establishes in the first instance, the authentic person. In the Gulf Islands, the products of craft--the products 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 Island work dominates even literary production in the islands. Just as the place seems to bestow upon 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 the popular association of the Gulf Islands with literary and artistic communities: to an extent this impression is well-founded, given the number of nationally- and internationally-known authors who live here (some examples are Audrey Thomas, Dorothy Livesay, Daphne Marlatt, Betsy Warland, Susan Musgrave, Phyllis Webb, and Jane Rule). Despite the annual literary festival that began in the early 1990s, 23 however, these writers deny the existence of a literary community. The cult of the artisan in the islands both makes writing available to the amateur and influences the particular genres in which islanders write. As I  23  This festival was the result of a particular occasion, an urgent need to raise funds to save land on Galiano that was being sold by MacMillan Bloedel and thus threatened with development. Whether it would have occurred otherwise is moot. Note that the list of readers is restricted to island residents, past and present.  52  discuss in Chapter Five, Gulf Islands narratives almost invariably constitute sketches, rather than more fully-realized literary forms. A consequence (or perhaps a cause) of this scale of literary 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 the perhaps 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 islands are written: all of these forms are conventionally considered sub-literary, and thus the legitimate territory of those with no more qualifications than enthusiasm. Local histories, especially, are usually self-published, 24 because they are often produced by untrained writers and because their appeal is limited to the place about which they are written. Many islanders have taken the trouble to establish their own presses in order to publish their work and the work of other islanders: New Society and Reflections on Gabriola; Apple Press 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 near the islands. The number of local presses does not, however, improve the distribution of Gulf Island writing, most of which remains outside the machinery of large-scale publication, just as it lies outside canonical notions of literature. Like craft, Gulf Island writing is popular writing, populist and local. Since the idea of region is populist also, the means of production governing local writing reinforces the notion that the islands constitute a region.  24  Among self-published local histories of the Gulf Islands are Baikie, Borrodaile, Harrison, Hill et al., Kelsey, Mason, and Donald New.  53  The Gulf Islands participate not oniy in the conventional association of pastoral with 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 a case for the forest as a site of pastoral in nineteenth-century English and German literary romanticism (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 tropical beach. Both of these currents of pastoral operate in the Gulf Islands, complicating the conventional identification of pastoral with settled, agricultural landscapes. They represent two widely-diverging trends of thought: in the first instance, nostalgia privileges a past, or imagined past, that makes the notion of history--specifically local history--the form or genre of pastoral lament. Unlike the forest, in which folk memory is preserved and can be experienced, the beach rather offers an absence of history, in that its version of pastoral emphasizes timelessness and forgetting. The complex variants of pastoral codes that operate in the Gulf Islands may thus present ideological difficulties. Given that the Islands Trust rests on notions of pastoral nostalgia, these competing interpretations or codes of pastoral have the potential to create significant political conflict. For example, nearly all Gulf Island community plans use the idea 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 could  54  25 A much more fundamental difficulty, however, lies in not agree on a defmition of rural. the 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 of government but also designates the Gulf Islands as a discrete region, a political entity. The Trust, 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 region precipitated by the Minister of Municipal Affairs’ request, upon her appointment in 1992, for a policy document covering the whole region). Rather than addressing its constituency as 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 individual islands whose jurisdiction includes smaller islands nearby. The manner in which the Community Plans are written is intended to give each island’s “community” the power to decide the island’s character (bylaws that are not in keeping with the Community Plan cannot be enacted): the Community Plan process gives the impression that each island retains the ability to dictate its own future. Final decisions on both the Community Plan and bylaws, however, rest with the Trustees and, ultimately, the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Although the Trust would appear to be a triumph of enabling local control, the  25  The members of the Commission could not agree about whether “rural” can describe forest 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, of the interior of the island in exchange for relaxed zoning requirements for waterfront land also owned by Weldwood, the distinction became critical. At least one commissioner resisted the exchange on the grounds that developing the interior of the island according to existing 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 system used by the Trust, forest land and low-density land are both zoned R-3.  55  Trust 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 Trust reflects the notion of region and how the structure and purpose of the Trust reflect and reinforce those pastoral values that operate in representations of the islands. In Chapter Two I discuss how variously local histories of the Trust region constitute the Gulf Island region: what these histories really discuss, however, are communities. The ways in which the subject areas of individual local histories shift exactly parallel how notions 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 is necessarily selective: the local history is selective in that it tends to reflect the memories and personal associations that the local historian equates with the local place. The constellation of subjects--individuals, families, friends, businesses, landscapes--that the local history discusses will be idiosyncratic. This shifting geography of community is rather easier to recognize than slippage in local definitions of “community: for all the rhetoric in Gulf Islands politics that invokes the sacred icon of “community” as the fmal repository of wisdom and virtue, the concept is not defined. 26 If, as seems to be the case in Gulf Island  26  One of the few discussions of “community” on a Gulf Island that does not sentimentalize the notion is Jane Rule’s essay “Stumps” (1981). The element of antagonism and clashing beliefs on Galiano does not alarm Rule: on the contrary, she says, it is the expectation of disagreement that frees people on the island to be individuals: Most people have stayed or come here because of an appetite for solitude to avoid the interference government is allowed in larger communities, the allegiance required by groups with similar beliefs and aims. When we talk, we expect to disagree. All communities are, in fact, enemy territory for the individual, even those which profess concern for consensus, because none can accommodate comfortably all that anyone is. This community doesn’t try. (187)  56  local histories before about 1990, community means a group of people personally acquainted with one another for much of their lives, an acquaintance strengthened by family connections and shared memory, that notion is increasingly under pressure from the rapidly-increasing population of the islands, and the degree to which that increase is the result 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. Consensus is likely, however, only when the group of people involved share common attitudes and desires: in the islands, this conformity of perspective is assumed to be the result of attachment to the local. Both ideas equate community with local space, with the intense identification of individuals with a specific place. Community is thus the repository of  In the fifteen years since this essay was published, however, Galiano has been faced with the most expensive and divisive issue any Trust island has encountered to date: when MacMillan-Bloedel wanted to sell its forest land on the island (more than half of the island’s area) in the late 1980s, the Galiano Conservancy and Trustees moved to pass bylaws that would prevent subdivision of the MacMillan-Bloedel lands for residential development. The forest company sued both the Conservancy and the Trustees (see Gibson and Kienman). In the aftermath of this crisis, Galiano opinion about disposition of the MacMillan-Bloedel lands remains divided, making Trust decisions on the matter extremely difficult. Whatever Rule’s assessment about the Galiano community’s social dynamics, the structure of the Trust demands political process by consensus. On Gabriola, where collective belief in the consensus model of community government was strong at the beginning of the 1 990s, that belief has been eroded by Gabriola’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 of negotiations to date, local newspapers (in 1992, Gabriola had three newspapers) have become the site not only of increasingly vitriolic personal attacks on individuals supporting both sides of the question (whether to permit the exchange of land for density that Weldwood proposes) but of repeated calls for “healing the community.” The shock and sorrow over the antagonism with which the debate has been conducted stems not only from the conflict itself but from the degree to which that conflict disrupts the idea of the island as a place of pastoral sanctuary from social and political conflict.  57 authenticity, whose integrity rests on its connection to place. The islands themselves are thought 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 the attitudes and desires they developed in the place from which they came to the islands. The influence of the physical environment on individual character and the community is an important component of the notion of “indigenousness.” In Audrey Thomas’ Prospero on the Island (1971), for instance, Miranda notices that the largely elderly 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 to Vancouver for a visit or down at Dionysio Harbor, waiting for the ferry to  “town” In other words, whatever their original motives for coming here these people are not the flotsam and jetsam one often sees in the streets of Vancouver (or any big city) shuffling aimlessly along the indifferent pavements or mindlessly rocking on the front porch of a “rest home.” They belong; they constitute a community; they live separately and yet not in isolation. Their days are regulated by something more rewarding than the gong which announces a meager communal breakfast, or a desperate devotion 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 “they constitute a community.” Thomas subscribes to the idea of a community based upon common characteristics, all related to the influence of place. Here, Thomas elaborates upon the model of Gulf Islands as a pastoral, health-giving environment. 27 The conservative notion of community is a collection of people bound together by  27  The conviction that this elderly population is unusually healthy is ubiquitous in Gulf Island texts, but is perhaps not accurate: in many cases, once elderly islanders lose their health they move to larger centres, especially Victoria, in order to be closer to medical facilities.  58  ties 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 has been assigned to that individual by birth or circumstance. In North American, late twentieth-century society, however, individuals are much more at liberty to choose their roles, and to discard those roles at will. The notion of community that can accommodate this liberty must be much looser, more tenuous, and thus subject to radical change or disintegration. The Gulf Islands seem to attract persons wanting to fulfill a romantic archetype, as if William and Dorothy Wordsworth were to leave the Lake District and move to the Gulf Islands. In this model, the islands represent the pastoral ideal, that there is one right way to live--the Gulf Island way--and failure on the part of an individual to be comfortable with that way of life is failure on the part of the individual, not the way of life. If one subscribes to the notion of a protean self, one can posit that there is a Gulf Island “role” that anyone can fill, even if only temporarily. If one then decides that this role does not fit the authentic self, one can move on: such an ongoing migration is 28 These opposing constituted not as failure but as passage through phases of self-hood. constructions of the relationship between identity and place require very different judgements of personalities perceived to characterize Gulf Island residents and also of those who are entitled to belong to and help define the “community.” Another version of the authentic Gulf Island identity derives from Rousseau’s notion that the natural landscape (or rather “nature” or “wilderness”) produces a superior person, primitive (that is, unable to dissimulate) in social relations and self-reliant (without the need to establish social  28  This distinction, which can be described as a shift from conditions of pre-modernity to those of modernity, is elaborated by Lionel Trilling in Sincerity and Authenticity (1971).  59  hierarchies, which develop when people need others to fulfill their needs). Although Rousseauists think it possible (and sometimes attempt) to return to this desirable state, Rousseau himself thought it impossible: his opinion reintroduces the notion of pastoral lament and paradox. Primitive man is necessarily unaware of his felicitous state, since to be aware of it would be unprimitive and unnatural. Very few people living in the islands have family roots in the region. The Gulf Island notion of “community,” therefore, is much more artificially constructed than in other rural regions, where historically-continuous social relations are assumed to be the basis of community. Gulf Island texts blur the distinction between an indigenous (long-settled or established, rather than First Nations) community and a community composed of relatively recent immigrants. This blurring may simply reflect modern, generally urban patterns of migration and settlement (in which long-term social ties in a small geographic region have given way to “instant” communities). It also perhaps explains why experience of material concerning early pioneers has become so prevalent in Gulf Island texts: it is not necessary to be personally acquainted with the neighbours to belong to the community as long as one is “acquainted,” in an artistic or literary sense, with the origins of the community, by absorbing community history and vocabulary through reading. Even better than reading such texts is writing them. Gulf Islanders often invoke the talisman of “community” in order to establish authority and moral ownership of the land and to mount opposition to further development in the area. Any potential change is subjected to rigorous examination to determine whether any resident islander’s quality of life will be affected. Community activism  60 originally organized against “big business,” specifically large forestry firms and large-scale land development, is now directed against smaller operators and private landowners also. Community hearings and  4 ç meetings, letters to newspapers, private vendettas  involving destruction of property and intimidation, and notoriously efficient island gossip ensure that resistance to development is loud and persistent. Such constant, unofficial surveillance on the part of private citizens enrages many of those who have bought land in the islands with the intention of developing or using the property in ways that contradict the conservationist ethos of the islands. The rhetoric of such disputes is becoming 29 increasingly violent, involving exchanges of charges of fascism and totalitarianism. This emphasis on the needs and rights of the community is a departure from the usual tactics taken to criticize and oppose development of rural and/or semi-wilderness land, which tend to focus on some aspect of “nature” represented as threatened by such development. This anomaly is odd considering that the Gulf Islands are generally valued  29  Cliff Hunt’s letter of June 6, 1991 (“A Challenge to Mr. Willingham”) to The Island Times exemplifies this rhetoric while locating the conflict in the notion of “community:” Who, for heaven’s sake, has decreed that ownership of private property must be justified by its achievements as an effective means of meeting and serving the wants of the community? Where is this community of saints which has not only the right but even the duty to “intervene,” to “govern the use of property”? Would that community be, by chance, a handful of people wanting to use the property of others for their own private delectation? Are we to believe that private property is not private despite the owner having paid for it with money earned, but rather, that the state has chosen to loan it out? Either property owners are suffering from the delusion that they purchased their property to meet and serve their own wants or Mr. Willingham is suffering from the delusion that he lives on a little island run by fascists. The letter continues in the same vein.  61 ° 3 not as a group of ideal communities but as a superbly beautiful and unique natural region. One explanation might be that islanders active in local politics use the notion of community as a metaphor for the ecological interdependence of elements in a given bioregion. Thus the ecological metaphor can represent the principle that what one person does on private property affects all members of the community, who therefore have the right to comment on and even interfere in private activities. Another possibility is that, as is suggested by the authors of Habits of the Heart (1985), in default of religious and familial foundations to communities, the adoption of common “causes,” with attendant ideology 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, rural landscape values, individual authenticity, community, nostalgia, home, and craft--create further variants, connections, and contradictions. The visual perception of the islands as both settled and natural--pastoral, in short--initiates a network of connotations that pervade  °  This anomaly is also significant considering that some characteristics of the islands appear to make them appropriate settings for feminist constructions of region and experience. In her article “Women in the Wilderness,” Heather Murray suggests that regions conforming to a notion of “pseudo-wilderness” (which she defines as a rural setting occupying 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 example of pseudo-wilderness, but I have not yet found any examples of texts treating women’s experience of the Gulf Islands this way. (In Intertidal Life, the work that arguably most intensely incorporates the natural world, Alice reads field guides rather than experiencing the actual natural world on Galiano.) Given the long tradition of women exploring, living in, and writing about nature on the British Columbia coast (Kathrene Pinkerton, Three’s a Crew (1940); Margaret McIntyre, Place of Quiet Waters (1965); M. Wylie Blanchet, The Curve of Time (1968); Lyn Hancock, There’s a Seal in My SleeDing Bag (1972); Gilean Douglas, The Protected Place (1979); Edith Iglauer, Fishing with John (1990)), the lack of a single Gulf Island example (when the geographical location and pastoral associations with the islands match so precisely Murray’s “pseudo-wilderness”) is puzzling.  62 all aspects of Gulf Island culture. This network constitutes the rhetorical strategies by which the Gulf Islands define themselves and acquire significance.  Chapter Two An Indefinite Space: Gulf Island Histories  Ecology is to a large extent the study ofplant and animal succession. Joseph Meeker, The Comedy of Survival, 27  A good steam engine is properly superseded by a better. But one lovely pastoral valley is not superseded by another; nor a statue of Praxiteles by a statue ofMichael Angelo. Thomas de Quincey, “Literature of Knowledge and Literature of Power,” 1848  Histoiy may repeat, but sometimes things get turned around in the process. William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways, 177  A region is not simply a geographical entity but a concept defined by its historical coordinates: the geographical region cannot be separated from its historical existence. The Gulf Island region has changed size and shape since European settlement began; from one local history to another, the region’s boundaries are fluid. The manner in which the region has been defined and represented in local histories depends on criteria for regional identity beyond the topographical. Until the end of the Second World War, the Gulf Islands were peripheral to regional (Pacific Northwest or British Columbia coast) and provincial histories that treated the Gulf Islands, if at all, as quaint and inconsequential. But with Margaret Shaw Walter’s Early Days among the Gulf Islands of British Columbia (1946), the first frill-length published account of European settlement on the islands, the Gulf Islands became the subject in themselves of a discrete text. The separate volume marks a  64 separateness of space and intention: the boundaries of the subject align with the spatial boundaries of the region. Local histories of the Gulf Islands define localness; they fix the historical coordinates of local space. Walter’s voyage across the Atlantic from England culminates in the moment in 1877 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 which at least were to become so familiar later on” (6). Arrival scenes are pivotal moments in emigrant 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, the 31 rhetoric of such moments encapsulates both emigrant desires and the life that follows. For Walter, the significant moment, the point of origin, occurs at the family’s first sight of the groun of islands, not the specific island on which they settled. The preposition  31  In Imperial Eyes, Mary Louise Pratt describes arrival scenes as “a convention of almost every variety of travel writing,” serving “as particularly potent sites for framing relations of contact and setting the terms of its representation” (78-79). In “Fieldwork in Common Places,” she examines two common tropes for describing the arrival of the ethnographer in the contact zone: the “royal arrival” and “the old-fashioned castaway” (3738). Pratt is concerned in these two examples with contact with indigenous peoples rather than specifically with landscape, and the tropes she describes initiate the ethnographer’s narrative. Andrew Hassam, on the other hand, focusses on landscape representations in arrival scenes, and analyses how those scenes affect closure of travel narratives. He has found that ship-board descriptions of the Australian shoreline function as narrative climaxes in nineteenth-century emigrant diaries: is a desire to end the narrative What is common to these descriptions of the voyage on a suitably high note. The voyage along the coastline is the last stage of a long sea journey in which the description of static scenery has writing the coastline of Australia allows the been largely impossible. narrative of the voyage to come to a successful close. From on board ship, the coastline becomes active, participating in the emigrants’ desire to reach their destination, making the very act of emigration itself seem destined by providence. (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 on water. Walter does not mention Galiano by name until well into a description of her family’s first years on the island, where she identifies the island casually, only because the context requires that naming: “Later on I remember one of the older settlers on Salt Spring Island 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 explains the scope of local space at the time: Neighborhood in those days stood for quite an indefinite space. From Mayne Island, the nearest to ours southward, which forms with Galiano, the swift current of Active Pass; that of Pender, Saturna, and even to San Juan-for there were no tariff boundaries then, people travelling up the channel toward Nanaimo perhaps, would anchor sometimes in our little bay. (8) Walter’s use of the word “neighborhood” designates an intimate arrangement of space based primarily in social connections. The incident of the Salt Spring settler bringing milk to the Shaw children reinforces the notion of neighbourhood, being an act intended both as simple kindness and to establish social relations within local space. Walter’s notion of the neighbourhood of her childhood transgresses even the international border: the boundary dispute 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 formal division was irrelevant to island residents. San Juan Island, at least, was still part of the neighbourhood. Walter outlines Gulf Island space in a sentence that lacks both geographical and  66 grammatical relationships. Her sentence has no predicate; commas interrupt subject and verb, verb and object; lists ignore parallelism; semi-colon and dash replace who-knowswhat missing links between thoughts. Walter’s confused syntax echoes the indefiniteness of local space: as a set of directions, her description of the local region lacks both prepositions and compass points that might indicate the spatial relationships between islands. She names the islands in order as they extend south and east of Galiano, but abruptly 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 notion of travel, a concept that contradicts the notion of neighbourhood, which implies threedimensional space, while the traveller’s notion of space is a line, a direction: beyond Galiano, presumably, neighbourhood (“our little bay”) gives way to the impersonal, foreign space, the proper sphere of travellers. It is impossible to map Walter’s Gulf Islands from her own description; the boundaries of Gulf Island space must be assembled by inventing the absent relationships between the spatial and syntactical fragments of which her sentence is composed. That spatial indefiniteness is actually more pronounced even than Walter demonstrates here, for the geographical range she covers in her memoirs overlaps with, but is by no means identical to, the area she overtly maps as her “neighbourhood.” The act of neighbourliness she cites crosses the boundary of her neighbourhood as she defines it directly, 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 east to San Juan Island, but her stories include the area farther north. As would be logical for a resident of the north end of Galiano, Walter’s personal mental map includes Valdes, Kuper,  67 Thetis, and Salt Spring Islands, all adjacent to Galiano to the north and west across the sheltered waters of Trincornali Channel. Walters thus moves between two alternate, even conflicting mental maps of the Gulf Islands. The definition she states directly is conventional, the shared opinion of the community centred in the outer islands. She submerges her own orientation toward local space beneath the received version of the boundaries of the region. This contradiction makes the two parts of Walter’s disclaimer significant too: the region she knows is not the same as the region she believes in (“the names of which at least were to become so familiar”), the qualification (my emphasis) making familiarity the result of discourse rather than experience. For Walter, community discourse is as authoritative and reliable a source of knowledge as her own experience (or rather, 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 and known, 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 her foreword, Walter disclaims any authority based in scholarship and research, confining herself “strictly to what I know or believe to be true in every case.” Rather than limiting the authority of her text, this statement of criteria establishes local conventions for defining the Gulf Island region during the late nineteenth century. Fifteen years after Walter published her reminiscences, the Gulf Islands Branch of the B.C. Historical Association produced A Gulf Islands Patchwork (1961), a collection of essays, poems, reminiscences, anecdotes, and photographs relating to settlement of the outer islands. The book is subtitled “Some Early Events on the Islands of Galiano, Mayne, Saturna, North and South  68 Pender,” naming a Gulf Island region almost identical with Walter’s conventional version (though no longer bridging the international border, a conceptual boundary that solidified in local discourse over the intervening eighty years). For the contributors, as for the early settlers they commemorate, “home” still means the entire group of islands: the collective mental map Walter describes having persisted for nearly a century. The metaphor of patchwork and the indefinite article in the main title signify a proximity rather than fusion of material, randomly assembled and stitched together. No discernible structure orders the entries, 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 of islands: the onus is on the reader to make connections between entries, to piece together narrative lines, to amalgamate single events into general trends. Like Walter’s Foreword and the “early days” of her title, the editorial disclaimer “Some Early Events” signifies indeterminate beginnings:  unconnected by the causal links that characterize formal  historical narrative, “days” and “events” constitute antinarratives. But five years later, Donald A. New published a booklet titled Voyage of Discovery: Gulf Island Names and Their Origins (1966), arranging his text chronologically and emphasizing a sequence of origins in the Gulf Island region. Like New’s arrangement of the names into a historical narrative, Jean Lockwood’s Foreword suggests that the geographical project takes second place to the historical one: The purpose of this booklet is to tell the discoverer of today something of the history of the Gulf Islands, and how and where the names of their harbours, bays, points and mountains originated. (N.p.) Voyage of Discovery is a history of allusions to discovery rather than about discovery  69 itself: unlike Early Days or A Gulf Islands Patchwork, New’s book necessarily dwells less on settlement than on discovery, since most current place names in the islands date from the 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’s memoirs. Early Days does not include a map, which is not surprising given Walter’s indeterminate definition of Gulf Island space and her intended audience: as her casualness about mentioning Galiano suggests, she assumes her readers know where she lives, and that the 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 smaller region than New’s. The map in Patchwork uses a system of numbers locating entries given in 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 located more often in the interior of the islands, names associated with settlement rather than navigation. The lists thus move from officially-sanctioned names to vernacular names arising from local circumstances, most of which do not appear on government-produced maps of the same date. New, however, omits most of the settlement names, concentrating on the coastal names that match the official naval charts. The écriture of the two maps is almost identical, consisting of unadorned roughly hand-drawn outlines of the islands below lists of names, coded with numbers to numbered locations on the maps. But whereas Patchwork labels the islands and major bodies of water on the map itself where space permits, New labels only the islands and Nanaimo. All of the coastal names are his subject and are thus coded to the map and ordered in lists; Patchwork, however, treats major  70 coastal names as reference points only, as guides to locating sites of settlement. A Gulf Islands Patchwork thus treats its map as an adjunct to the mental map that it assumes its readers share, while New treats the map as a text complete in itself of equal importance to the historical account of place names. New’s definition of the Gulf Island region appears discursively as cartography rather than as exposition. New’s particular version of Gulf Island space does not use settlement as its defining trope as the two earlier histories do, but reverts to a notion of discovery--or more precisely naming--as the source of origins. At the end of the booklet, a short acknowledgement concedes that New has gleaned most of his material from Captain John F. Waibran’s British Columbia Coast Names (1907). New adopts both Waibran’s assumption that toponymy itself is history and his emphasis on the coastline of the region that is his subject. Except where elevation provides a navigational aid, the space behind the beach in the interior of the islands is irrelevant to New’s version of the Gulf Island region. The resemblance of New’s project to Walbran’s indicates that New intended his booklet to define Gulf Island space. The information in Voyage of Discovery had been available in Walbran for half a century: in reprinting the information in a new format, New casts the boundaries of the region into relief. Walbran’s title clearly creates or identifies a discrete region, “British Columbia Coast,” against which New’s selection and rearrangement of material (New is arranged chronologically, Walbran alphabetically) creates a geographical entity that had not before been mapped as a distinct region. Not surprisingly, New’s Gulf Island region does not depend on a notion of neighbourhood and the collective mental mapping that neighbourhood implies. New’s version expands the region from that defined in the two  71 earlier histories, stretching instead from Gabriola Island south through the outer islands and Salt Spring to include the small islands clustered around the Saanich Peninsula (though as in Patchwork the American border marks its southern boundary). This definition of the region derives from a marine perspective, from a traveller’s passage through space rather than the local conventions that identify the region as home. New’s quasi-history of the Gulf Islands ends a distinct phase in history-writing of the region, even though that phase lasted only twenty years. Not until nearly a century after initial European settlement did the Gulf Islands appear as the discrete subject of historical treatment in separate volumes, rather than as part of historical accounts of a larger region. For a quarter century after New issued his pamphlet, published full-length accounts of Gulf Island history are strictly limited to histories of individual islands rather than of the region as a whole, however constituted. Three cover Hornby Island (Corrigall 1969, 1975; Smith 1988; and Fletcher 1989), two Mayne Island (Borrodaile 1971; Elliott 1984), 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 isolated histories 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 by Walter and A Gulf Islands Patchwork, both of which omit Salt Spring from the  72  conventional, local definition of the Gulf Island region (or community). And Donald New echoes the Gulf Islands Patchwork map in labelling Salt Spring but leaving it otherwise blank, a space without distinguishing features or names, a barren coastline. According to local historiography, Salt Spring, now often considered emblematic of the Gulf Island region, was not part of the region from mid-nineteenth-century European settlement through the 1 960s, despite its islandness and proximity to the outer islands. In versions of the region current before the 1 960s and even later, the tenn “Gulf Islands” means the outer islands, 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 coast of Vancouver Island to the west and south and hugs the main island quite closely, has dictated that the island’s history and culture be much more directly tied to that of adjacent communities on Vancouver Island than to those of the other islands. Transportation between Salt Spring and Vancouver Island has always been much easier than between the outer islands and those islands and Vancouver Island: by the 1960s, direct ferry service was available from both Vesuvius Bay and Fulford Harbour, neither of which serves any of the 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 (with the more diverse and sophisticated services such a population requires) and command greater political clout than any other single island. Because of these differences, settlement and development have proceeded much more intensely and quickly on Salt Spring than on adjacent islands: it is hardly surprising that the outer islands, all relatively small and equally isolated from Vancouver Island, share an identity, and thus a history, that omits  73 Salt Spring. The other anomaly among the histories of individual islands is the absence of individual histories of Galiano, North and South Pender, and Saturna. Together with Mayne, these islands constitute the “outer” Gulf Islands, which are generally considered to be 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 to explain this anomaly: one possibility is that with the publication of A Gulf Islands Patchwork, much of the ground had already been covered, especially since Marie Anne Elliott’s 1984 history of Mayne includes the outer islands as is signalled by her book’s title Mayne Island and the Outer Gulf Islands: A History. The outer group may be considered too well-known to merit further attention. Conversely, the histories of individual islands may 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 and in all other texts. The most likely explanation, however, is that the outer islands are so inextricably bound up with one another’s history that it would be impossible to isolate the early history of a single island in the group. This sudden shift in focus from the region to individual islands in the writing of local history can be attributed to the increase in population: by the end of the 1960s, it was no longer necessary to look beyond one’s own island for a sense of community. The key 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, at least in social terms (as opposed to legal or political), the watery divisions between islands  74 were roads rather than boundaries. The notion of a Gulf Islands community became irrelevant 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 long acquaintance. The Gulf Islands region can be said to have shrunk during this period of expanding population: the notion of the Gulf Islands group held little importance except as one’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 physical obstacles long considered inconsequential became significant barriers between islands. As the weekly steamship service gave way to much more frequent government ferry service (a consequence of population growth), the rowboat seemed too slow and dangerous a vehicle for travel between islands. But the vagaries of routes and schedules and fares made interisland travel more difficult than convenient: coupled with the more immediate satisfaction of social desires possible on one island, this change in transportation habits created an estrangement between islands. The transition from neighbourhood to discontinuous region marked an increasing rather than diminishing remoteness, in contrast to the expanding urban area of Vancouver, for instance, which absorbed nearby settlements into itself as suburbs. The history of the region fractured into histories of individual islands. In 1991, however, Peter Murray published Homesteads and Snug Harbours, a first attempt at a conventional history of the Gulf Island region, rather than an assemblage of documents of many kinds, by many hands. Unlike Margaret Walter, who refuses to supplement her reminiscences with research, or New, who relies on a single, not always reliable source, Murray lists a substantial bibliographic foundation. And unlike A Gulf  75  Islands Patchwork, Homesteads and Snug Harbours is the work of one writer, not himself an earlier settler or the descendant of early settlers, who thereby perhaps brings to his work a scholarly detachment and a synthesizing influence to produce a stronger narrative line than earlier versions of the region’s history had done. The shift back to the notion of the group of islands as a significant, coherent place indicates not a return to a strong sense of social cohesiveness between islands but rather a sense of political urgency. Twenty years of experimentation with the Islands Trust has produced few indications that the special status of the islands can be maintained or its special quality preserved. For the most part, Murray employs the Islands Trust definition of the region, but he also manipulates the Trust area’s geographical boundaries. He includes Texada, for instance, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Trust, but eliminates the islands in Howe Sound and the Thormanby group along the Sunshine Coast. Just as cartography illuminates the discursive interpretations of the region in earlier histories, the maps that accompany Murray’s text reveal an idiosyncratic definition of the Gulf Islands region. Rather than using a single map of the entire region (admittedly an unwieldy element of Voyages of Discovery and A Gulf Islands Patchwork), Murray uses four separate maps that appear as a sequence before the discursive text (in the two earlier histories, the maps had been bound as part of the back covers, rather than as pages of the text). Murray’s cartography thus divides the region into four parts, three of which, covering the outer islands, Salt Spring, and the islands off the Saanich Peninsula, overlap very slightly. The line of southern islands is thus redrawn as three squat rectangles. The fourth map includes  76 Denman and Homby, Lasqueti and Texada: given that a rectangular map of the first three islands is almost impossible to draw without including Texada, one wonders whether Texada was included in the region (a chapter is devoted to Texada and Lasqueti) simply to satisf’ the demands of straight-line cartography. A fifth, comprehensive map shows how the four detailed maps fit into the Strait of Georgia: here, the islands of Howe Sound and the Thormanbys are drawn but not labelled, unlike the San Juan Islands, which do not appear at all, the space they occupy being reduced to empty sea. Texada is as close to Lasqueti, a Trust island, as most of the southern islands are to one another, but those on the southeast side of the Strait lie separate from the rest. Such a pronounced revision of the Trust boundaries of the region suggests that some aspect of southeast-ness made the  Thormanby and Howe Sound islands ineligible for Murray’s notion of the Gulf Islands region: the only difference between these islands and those Murray does include is their proximity to Vancouver. The islands on the east side of the Strait are perhaps drawn too deeply into the Vancouver urban region, where their separate origins and history may be obscured by, or too heavily dependent on, the growth of Vancouver. 32 In this proximity, the southeast islands challenge what Murray conceives to be the defining characteristic--separateness--of Gulf Islandness, which he states in the first sentence 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 in this region, since other factors--particularly the availability of ferry service--more immediately influence the degree to which individual islands attract urban interest. The boundaries of Murray’s implied urban region are also questionable, since it has become common, among regional planners, to refer to the “Strait of Georgia Urban Region,” a model that does not distinguish between islands on the basis of greater or lesser distance from Vancouver.  77 (1). Italicizing the verb to emphasize state of being makes the question of distinctness of place, of a claim to region, the central concern of the entire book. Murray’s statement seems 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 consists mainly of a quotation in which John Fowles describes island utopias in general and the Scilly 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 ici conditions. The plural islands in Murray’s declaration beg the question of whether it is the region that differs from surrounding areas or whether the islands are different from one another. As a regional history, the book is a generic anomaly: it recounts separate but simultaneous local histories, rather than synthesizing parallel elements in the histories of multiple islands. Murray may have set himself an impossible project: social and psychic investment in difference (between islands) defeats topographical similarity. Or perhaps the icon of amateur endeavour in representations of the Gulf Islands resists the rigours of scholarly or professional historical research and writing. In any case, Murray faces a problem of genre. His book attempts to make the local regional: the local history can no longer be used in the Gulf Islands, but the characteristics of the region resist the demands of a regional history. Such a history requires synthesis, supplementing anecdote with context, amalgamating personal stories into collective experience, creating a narrative or series of narratives that transcend yet include individual perspectives. Murray gestures toward synthesis, both in his title and in the focus of his first and last chapters. The phrase  78 “homesteads and snug harbours” defines the region by isolating its emblematic (common or unifying) landscapes, the topographical diversity between the two embracing all variations in between. The opening and closing chapters unify Gulf Island experience, the first through tracing broad outlines of emigration and settlement and the last in recounting the problems of travel across water, a defining characteristic of Gulf Island life. These two chapters-- “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 in between, however, fracture the region into its geographical parts. Consistent with subject areas of the earlier collective histories of the Gulf Islands group, Murray begins with the outer islands. From Mayne, Murray moves northwest to Galiano, southeast to Satuma, and south to Pender, then widens his scope to take in the small islands close to Sidney, moving north to Salt Spring and continuing north through Thetis, Kuper, and Reid, Gabriola and Valdes, Lasqueti and Texada, ending with Denman and Hornby. The route of Murray’s history traces a spiral through the outer islands that loosens into a long, northward curve veering east to Lasqueti and then west to include Demman and Homby at its end. But Murray’s structure does not trace any narrative line. By fragmenting the region according to topographical boundaries, Murray defeats his aim of producing a regional history. The several maps in Homesteads and Snug Harbours underscore Murray’s discursive fractures. However unconsciously, Murray grasps that the genre in which he writes--the local history--is conventionally limited to accounts of settlement. Its ultimate aim is to validate and celebrate the state or stage of local settlement as it exists at the time of writing. But Murray feels uneasy enough about local developments in the genre to explain what he  79 perhaps considers omissions in his own work: It is fashionable nowadays to begin histories such as this with a detailed account of the rumblings which created the geology and shapes of the landscape millions of years ago. Also mandatory, it seems, is an attempt to retell the story of the Indians. After all, as is invariably pointed out, they were here first. (4) Murray resists trends in local history writing, on the British Columbia coast as elsewhere in previously colonial places, that attempt to acknowledge and perhaps redress the genre’s overwhelming emphasis on European settlement. For him, post-colonial awareness of the discourse or narrative of priority (“they were here first”) is irrelevant. In Homesteads and Snug Harbours, Murray clears the spatial slate of prior narratives of geology, Salish occupation and European discovery, mapping at the outset of his history an empty landscape that he can gradually fill with the co-ordinates of settlement. The book establishes the pastoral moment itself as the original moment, the moment at which the region is called into being and defined. By omitting the narrative of prehistoric landscape fonnation, Murray makes the landscape coincidental with the arrival of settlers. By ignoring Salish presence in the region, he also reiterates the notion of settlement as the point 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 that preoccupation is implied by his conforming to the Trust notion of the region and the rhetoric 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 an antecedent for “it” in this statement betrays an ambivalence of intention: is “it” life,  80 landscape, the experience of settlement itself? The final paragraph of the introduction suggests that the notion of origins is more complicated: So this is an account, a celebration if you will, of settlement of the islands during the century between the 1850s and the 1950s. These are the stories of some remarkable people and their sometimes heroic endeavours to establish a way of life that has not yet been totally erased. It is good to be reminded of this past, to give us signposts to the future. We can’t go back to 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) of being “first” (“the islands’ first settlers”) with an entire century of continuous or successive development. The circumstance of priority, therefore, repeats endlessly. not, however, negate the notion of priority:  Repetition does  the frequency and longevity of the invocation  to priority proves its centrality to the notion of the Gulf Island region. Murray arbitrarily closes the period of settlement after a century of the process, which raises the speculation that 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 invocation and celebration is ritualistic, liturgical. Against his own protestations, Murray betrays a desire not simply to preserve (or “retain” as he says) the islands’ special quality, but to recover its essence and the conditions of its production. In pastoral elegy, that enviable state has been lost, the elegiac viewpoint focussing not on the process of loss but on the nature of the loss itself. The elegiac mode permits, in itself, the recovery of the pastoral moment (for its own sake, the pleasure of memory). In writing Homesteads and Snug Harbours, Murray hedges against the as-yet partial erasure of that specialness. This local  81 history functions not merely as the repository of records, but as an archive of blueprints for settlement, in the future as much as in the past. The settlement to which Murray refers is not so much a matter of lot lines and building plans (though both of these texts--as  discourses and mental maps--play a large part in other attempts at similar recovery) but of the condition of Gulf lslandness, of regional character. That all the local histories of individual islands betray a nostalgia for the settlement era is hardly surprising given the nature of the genre. But Gulf Island local histories pass beyond the boundaries of nostalgia into elegy. In a very short space of time, roughly a quarter of a century, the mode of local history-writing in the islands shifts from the boosterism that usually informs the genre, which generally traces a trajectory of growth and establishment 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 that propels the locality into the future. Murray’s reference to the Trust is ambivalent but so is his reference to “the pace of development.” Murray’s purpose is to  fl, not to enable a  narrative of change that extends beyond the book’s conclusion into the present. Murray writes a non-sequential history: his structure enables him to begin again with each new chapter, rather than to follow a chronology, creating an impression not of development but of a single, enviable state into which change does not intrude.  Chapter Three We Found An Archipelago of Many Low, Small Islands: Discovery  To be an explorer was to inhabit a world ofpotential objects with which one carried on an imaginary dialogue. Paul Carter, The Road to Botany Bay, 25  Geographical class names created a dfference that made a dfference. They rendered the world visible, bringing it within the horizon of discourse. Carter, 51  We may think, then, of the class elements in place names as the agent of a linguistic fifth column, infiltrating and dividing the space stealthily, as an outpost supplying a ramifying network of grammatical and syntactical connections. Carter, 58  The coast is the metaphor of exploring, not of the explorer. Carter, 93  Landscape painting is an arrangement of natural and man-made features in rough perspective; it organizes natural elements so that they provide an appropriate setting for human activity. Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophilia, 122  Peter Murray’s refusal to consider geomorphology or the occupation of the Gulf Islands landscape by the Coast Salish necessary components of local history writing is surprising not because he rejects these elements but because he does not mention the much more common practice of beginning a British Columbia coast history with the moment of European discovery and exploration in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Unlike  83 the American Pacific Northwest, where Lewis’ and Clark’s overland journey dominates notions of discovery and hence origin, the trope of discovery and exploration by sea remains the defining metaphor or icon for both British Columbia as a whole and its coastal places. The persistence of that metaphor reflects the degree to which European history of the province originates by sea: the first place in British Columbia to acquire a European name still in use was the Strait of Juan de Fuca, named, according to John Walbran, “or rather re-named, by Captain Charles William Barkley of the fur trading ship Imperial Eagle, who was off the entrance to this inlet in July, 1787, and recognized it as the long lost strait of Juan de Fuca” after “the Greek pilot Juan de Fuca, who sailed up this strait in 1592” (British Columbia Coast Names, 274). Alexander Mackenzie’s overland arrival at the Pacific at Bentinck Arm in July 1793 thus postdated European arrival by sea by two hundred years (and Lieutenant Johnstone’s charting of Dean Channel for Captain Vancouver by three weeks) (Ormsby 33). The incorporation of Victoria (the result of a  Donald New’s pamphlet Voyage of Discovery: Gulf Island Names and Their Origins begins with the statement: The oldest name in British Columbia is JUAN de FUCA, the wide strait leading in from the Pacific Ocean. This name was made official in 1787 by Capt. Charles William Barkley who was here collecting sea otter pelts in his good ship Imperial Eagle. Barkley did not enter the straits but identified them as the opening claimed to have been discovered in 1592 by the Greek pilot Apostolos Valerianos, working for the Spaniards under the assumed name of Juan de Fuca, when he was sent to find the supposed North West Passage to the Atlantic. De Fuca’s story may have been doubted, but his name and the approximate location of his straits were shown on all maps and charts of the region before the authenticated 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 the history of attempted discovery of the Northwest Passage, resonate with Vancouver’s own project.  84 sea-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 identified with the idea of the region’s origins. The absence in Homesteads and Snug Harbours of the classic trope of origins in British Columbia coast history denies sighting, mapping, and naming as necessary activities preceding and enabling settlement. In Murray’s narrative of the islands, the pastoral landscape does not evolve from dreams of settlement but is itself the original landscape. In repudiating the discovery and exploration phase as historiographical necessity in the Gulf Islands region, Murray incorporates, however inadvertently, a key aspect of Gulf Islands history. Both discovery and exploration are very qualified notions in the “history” of the Gulf Islands, of limited use in identifying discrete phases of post-contact historical narrative of the region. During the period of intense European scrutiny of the British Columbia coast in the 1790s (these being the particular journeys to which the local or regional tropes refer), both the Spanish and English expeditions largely ignored the islands. By the time Vancouver made his third and final voyage through the Pacific Northwest in 1792, he was certain 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 the coastline more accurately. In this sense, the third voyage engaged in verification and record-keeping; it functioned, therefore, more practically (whatever its rhetorical frame) as survey rather than as voyage of discovery. Given Vancouver’s emphasis on this last voyage on cartography rather than  85  discovery (as bolstering claims to empire and as precursor of settlement rather than as textual site of discovery), at least one aspect of the map (that is, the text, both cartographic and otherwise, in which the fmdings of the voyage culminate) that concludes the three voyages seems anomalous. The name “Gulf of Georgia” appears on Vancouver’s 1792 chart of the southern British Columbia coast, but if by this point Vancouver had given up the 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 than deep), 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 fabled Northwest Passage would be signalled geomorphically by a gulf into which the straits would open. The discovery of a gulf in the location of the Strait of Georgia would have been the essential prelude to the climax of a narrative describing discovery of the Northwest Passage. In an exploration journal, the term “gulf’ would necessarily precede the discursive triumph of “passage.” “Gulf’ locates the focus of imperial desires, funnelling the explorers’ gaze toward the all-important break in the coastline. Even though his ships had made the journey through the Inside Passage, proving that the “gulf’ was actually 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 to the northwest coast, with Archibald Menzies providing a constant, clearly irritating reminder of that emphasis, the uncorrected name is difficult to explain. The toponymic error is technical, breaching the conventions that govern the use of geographical class names. The misnaming alters the topography of the region named, referring to a desired  86 narrative rather than describing the formal attributes of the region. In 1791, Eliza had named 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 the polite exchange of information between the Spanish and British expeditions in 1792, Vancouver must have been aware of the Spanish name and recognized its technical difference from his own. Perhaps Vancouver refused to change the name lest it appear that he was conceding Spanish cartographic superiority. Or perhaps he was unwilling to indicate quite so emphatically the failure to fulfill his mandate (to find the Northwest Passage) that the corrected name would imply. Perhaps he intended the name as an ironic allusion to that failure. Alternatively, the name “Strait of Georgia” might have recalled uncomfortably the Straits of Anian that he had not found. That Vancouver replaced a topographically-correct name with an erroneous one suggests that the English expedition competed with the Spanish for discursive possession of the region. Vancouver’s name for the Strait stood until 1865, when the Hydrographer of the Royal Navy confirmed Captain Richards’ proposal, in 1858, that it be altered to the “Strait of Georgia.” The name “Gulf of Georgia,” however, persists in local usage: forty years on, 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 usage 34 The last remnant of its status as formal and authoritative, however by older local people.  In a short article, “About Place Names,” in More Tales of the Outer Gulf Islands, En Campbell has this to say about the Strait of Georgia: “In 1792 Captain George Vancouver named this body of water ‘Gulf of Georgia’ in honour of His Majesty George III. In 1865 the 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 1865 underscores the extraordinary longevity of “gulf’ as an immutable, perhaps foundational  87 -its last cartographic presence--remains in the term “Gulf Islands.” 35 The name “Gulf Islands” rarely appears on maps of the Pacific Northwest or the British Columbia coast produced by government agencies (except the tourism agencies), though it does appear in the Coast Pilot, 36 where it designates not so much a destination as a route, or waterway, or series of waterways. The region “Gulf Islands” thus remains unnamed: its name does not distinguish but rather dissolves. In the Coast Pilot, as in federal government navigational charts, the term “Gulf Islands” names not a specific place but a part of the coast as it relates geographically to surrounding areas--a region, in short. “Gulf Islands” functions as a generally locating title, in the same manner as “West Coast Vancouver Island,” and is the only 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 on by association the status not of land but of water: the place indicated is not the actual  element of local language (“local parlance”). In Islands in Trust, David Lott begins his entry on Salt Spring with the following account of the name “Gulf Islands,” the source of which he identifies as Bea Hamilton’s 1969 history Salt Spnng Island: It is the largest of the “Gulf Islands.” Strictly speaking, there is no Gulf, only a Strait. In 1854, the nearby waters were called the Gulf of Georgia, but officials decided that as there was really no gulf, name should be changed to the Strait of Georgia. By then, it appears to have been too late to change the designation “Gulf Islands.” In 1962, officialdom acquiesced and the term “Gulf Islands” is now official.” (165) 36  The vernacular term “Coast Pilot” refers locally to the federal government publication Sailing Directions: British Columbia Coast, which covers the coast in several volumes, updated periodically. Volume I, described as covering the “south portion” of the B.C. coast, includes the Gulf Islands.  88 islands 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 a discrete 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. The term “Gulf Islands” is not a place name in the conventional sense: rather than using the usual binomial form combining geographical class name with a designation that particularises that individual topographical entity, “Gulf Islands” combines two geographical class names. In the process, the term “gulf’ ceases to function as a geographical class name and becomes descriptive--but descriptive of what? Other class name binomials are formally recognized on the British Columbia coast: the Channel Islands off Salt Spring, Cove Cliff in Indian Arm, Island Harbour and Island Cove in the Broken Group and in Toflno Inlet respectively, and Harbour Island, in the entrance to Port Eliza (Esperanza Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island) are some examples. None of these names appears in Waibran, which is not surprising since by their nature these are unlikely 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 the intensely local: they depend upon having the horizon under one’s eye, on immediate reference to the landscape, and therefore can have meaning only in local usage. The names themselves thus suggest the existence of a local people, since they depend on and emana te from the local knowledge of long-standing residents. The descriptors do not differentiate between specific topographies in a way that would have currency outside the extremely  89 local context. In effect, each of these names contracts a determining directional gesture, replacing definite articles and prepositions with syntactical proximity. The descriptor indicates the location of the feature named, but the syntactical relation between elements of a place name where both parts of the name are geographical class names cannot always be known, and the implied prepositional relationships sometimes slip their moorings. In the case 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 an island in a cove or harbour and a cove or harbour located on an island: the contraction blurs the gesture that the missing preposition would indicate. Contractions are a common feature of popular, familiar idioms in most languages, where the ellipses cause difficulties only for non-native speakers. Exactly the same phenomenon operates with these names as with the term “Gulf Islands” (a contraction of the phrase