Book of the Month - Chasing Clayoquot: A Wilderness Almanac

It's the time of year for cosying up with a book and taking in nature's dramatic show (if you're reading from outside Clayoquot Sound, storms have been very dramatic here lately). 

Our literary prescription for December is David Pitt-Brook's Chasing Clayoquot: AWilderness Almanac which weaves together, history, personal experiences, and the setting of Clayoquot Sound in chapters arranged by months and season. 


Raincoast Books published the book in 2004. It was republished by Greystone Books in 2010. You can find a copy at the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Mermaid Tales Bookshop, or Tofino Sea Kayaking

Clayoquot Sound Heritage Book of the Month - Beckoned by the Sea

Our book of the month for October, Women's History Month in Canada, is Beckoned by the Sea by Silvia Taylor (who worked as a deckhand for many years). A recent publication (2017) Taylor shares the stories of women whose lives are intrinsically connected to the Pacific Northwest coast and waters, both through work and seemingly through lays of attraction. 

Locals featured are Vi Mundy, Mary Kimoto, Ellen Crowe-Swords, Tsimka Martin, and Josie Osborne. She tells of what's motivated them to do the work they do, challenges they've overcome, and where they've found success and support. 

Pick up a copy from Tofino Sea Kayaking or the Vancouver Island Regional Library Tofino Branch. Order a copy from Mermaid Tales. 

Clayoquot Sound Heritage Book of the Month - čamus

With Salmon Festival fast approaching, our heritage book pick for September is čamus. The word čamus (pronounced chumus), is often used when talking about sweets or snacks, but can also be used to mean "very satisfying, when you've been well-fed". This book was produced by Uu-a-thluk (meaning "taking care of") a fisheries management organization run by Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. 

 The book contains tried and true seafood recipes from ku-us (people) throughout Nuu-chah-nulth hahoulthees (traditional territories) up and down the coast of Vancouver Island and down to Washington state. 

This book can be ordered from the Uu-a-thluk website


People of the Sound - Mike & Mabel Hamilton

Mike (b. 1888, Christened Walter Charles) and Mabel Hamilton (nee. Hall) traveled and lived throughout Clayoquot Sound. Their story is often told as a sweet romance. 

Mike and Mabel Hamilton. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection. 

The future couple met on a ship travelling from Ireland to Canada. Mabel's family settled in Langley and Mike moved to Howe Sound for a linesman position. They made indelible impressions on each other from their first meeting and kept in touch with letters over the years, few of which are left. 


Hike to Alberni. 1949. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection. 

Many of the photographs in our collection were taken by Mike Hamilton, including  the one above, capturing a long walk through the mountains to Port Alberni. Many of his photographs are from Nootka Sound and Hesquiaht Harbour where he spent time installing line. 

Before moving to Canada, in the UK, he laid telegraph cable from Dartmoor to Cornwall. While working in England, the foreman re-dubbed him Mike, joking that Hamilton must be a 'Mike' or a 'Pat' as he was Irish. When he came to Canada he immediately started a position installing telegraph line in Howe Sound. He then was commissioned to work on a line from Tofino to Nootka in 1913.

After the Clayoquot Sound line was completed, Mike was charged with maintaining the section from Ahousaht to Hesquiaht, an endless task. After the job was completed Mike made Tofino his home and set up a machine shop in partnerhsip with Hilmar in 1917. Mechanical repair jobs would take Mike farther afield as well, often to Kakawis, where Christie Residential School was located on Meares Island. He also serviced the movie projector there

Mike Hamilton at Nookta. 1919. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection.

Mabel first visited Mike in Tofino in 1919. She finally came to Tofino in 1923. She was quite keen on establishing a house on Strawberry Island, which Mike had purchased in 1920, though Mike second-guessed his decision to buy and sold it for $150. Mabel was happy to finally be with Mike, but had to get used to the small-town rhythm, especially the gossip! 

Mabel in Tofino. 1923. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection. 

After their marriage in 1924, Mabel and Mike set off for their honeymoon to Kennedy Lake, staying at the hatchery manager's house. The following year Mabel started working at the post-office. 


Hamilton Honeymoon, Clayoquot Arm. 1924. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection.

The couple had four daughters, Marie, Joan, Pat and Sheila. The couple moved to Port Alberni in 1927, where Mike was later mayor. Many of Mike's photographs survive in the Port Alberni Archives.

Mike and Marie Hamilton. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection. 

Hamilton Sisters at Mary Hall's. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection.

Mayor Mike Hamilton. ca. mid. 1950s. Courtesy of Hamilton Collection. 


Titian, Denise August. "Tofino resident makes public photographs." Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Horsfeild, Margaret. Voices from the Sound. Nanaimo: Salal Books, 2008. 

Horsfield, Margaret and Ian Kennedy. Tofino and Clayoquot Sound: A History. Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2014.