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In 1842, when explorer James Douglas encountered the rugged natural paradise that would become Vancouver Island, off Canada’s Pacific Coast, he described it as "a perfect Eden." This book, a compelling history of the earliest explorers to Vancouver Island, gathers the early recorded histories and personal accounts left by Chinese seafarers, Spanish and British naval officers, traders seeking sea otter pelts, colonial surveyors, as well as soldiers, settlers, and other adventurers, starting from many centuries ago up to 1858. Collected here in detail for the first time, these accounts create a multilayered tale of discovery and exploration.
A Perfect Eden is the companion volume to the acclaimed The Land of Heart's Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island, which was shortlisted for the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice BC Book Prize, and for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.
Michael Layland was born and educated in England and trained as an officer and map-maker in the Royal Engineers. He serves as the current president of the Friends of the BC Archives, is a former president of the Victoria Historical Society, and is on the committee of the Historical Map Society of BC. He is also a member of the Society for the History of Discoveries and the International Map Collectors' Society. His articles on explorers and exploration history have appeared in international encyclopedias, including eight entries in the two-volume The Oxford Companion to World Exploration. He also reviews books for British Columbia History magazine. Michael has lived in British Columbia for some 30 years, for the last 20 in Victoria. A Perfect Eden is a companion to his first book, The Land of Heart's Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island.
"A well-organized, well-written guide to first contact [between European explorers and First Nations in BC]."
– Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun
"Layland is the perfect guide. He has read everything about Vancouver Island from 1774 to 1862, and delivers the choicest morsels from hundred of log books and diaries. He introduces us, in pictures and stories, to the people whose names we live with every day [...] and takes us with them as they charted these waters and measured the land [...] This book is my top pick."
– Robert Amos, Times Colonist
"Given how many books have been written about the exploration of Vancouver Island and the waters around it, is there really room for one more? In a word, yes. Michael Layland's A Perfect Eden is a fine addition to the range of books already published [...] This book is informative and highly readable, and no matter how much you have read about exploration of the Island, you will surely learn from this book as well."
– Dave Obee, Times Colonist