Anticipating fame and wealth, Captain John Voss set out from Victoria, BC, in 1901, seeking to claim the world record for the smallest vessel ever to circumnavigate the globe. For the journey, he procured an authentic dugout cedar canoe from an Indigenous village on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
For three years Voss and the Tilikum, aided by a rotating cast of characters, visited Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and finally England, weathering heavy gales at sea and attracting large crowds of spectators on shore. The austere on-board conditions and simple navigational equipment Voss used throughout the voyage are a testimony to his skill and to the solid construction of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth vessel.
Both Voss and his original mate, newspaperman N.K. Luxton, later wrote about their journey in accounts compromised by poor memories, brazen egos and outright lies. Stories of murder, cannibalism and high-seas terror have been repeated elsewhere without any regard to the truth. Now, over a century later, a full and fair account of the voyage—and the magnitude of Voss’s accomplishment—is at last fully detailed.
In this groundbreaking work, marine historians John MacFarlane and Lynn Salmon sift fact from fiction, critically examining the claims of Voss’s and Luxton’s manuscripts against research from libraries, archives, museums and primary sources around the world. Including unpublished photographs, letters and ephemera from the voyage, Around the World in a Dugout Canoe tells the real story of a little-understood character and his cedar canoe. It is an enduring story of courage, adventure, sheer luck and at times tragedy.
“This is a tale, a true tale, I can get behind. For the inner-child-adventurer in each of us, it has it all: a search for buried treasure, stormy seas, exotic locales, and deliciously sketchy accounts pieced together from personal journals, logbooks, letters, and wildly differing accounts. But whatever information was recorded, authors John MacFarlane and Lynn Salmon have unearthed it, pieced it together like a once scattered jigsaw and meticulously reassembled an engaging, informative page-turner. This is rock-solid historical writing, composed by acutely knowledgeable and passionate researchers. Researchers who know how to share a great story.”
“The story [MacFarlane and Salmon] tell is both remarkable and inspiring. It is a testament to human determination and perseverance--and to the commitment to reach a goal that would seem unattainable to most. This is a key part of Victoria history, but also international maritime history. This book matters.”
“The authors have illuminated a remarkable and little-known piece of Canadian history with this intriguing book. It will appeal to maritime history buffs and to general readers. With its storms at sea, its adventures and fierce interpersonal conflicts, it would make a compelling movie.”
“This engrossing tale of the Tilikum and her circumnavigation of the globe is a fascinating story put together by two of Western Canada’s most accomplished maritime history writers, John M. MacFarlane and Lynn J. Salmon. Solidly anchored research backed by primary source material from around the globe makes this story of Captain John Voss and his adventures and trials at sea in a small dugout canoe a thoroughly engaging read.”