No matter where people live on the BC coast, says Howard White, they have certain shared experiences: frustration with rain and ferries, familiarity with gumboots, bumbershoots, seagull droppings and barnacles in the wrong places. But each little community clings to its own sense of uniqueness and considers itself the true West Coast. As a case in point, White offers fifty funny sketches of life as he has come to know it in sixty-odd years of living along that hundred-mile stretch of monsoon-prone shoreline ironically known as the Sunshine Coast.
Included is what must be one of the most admiring testaments ever written about the virtues of the old-time outhouse; fond remembrances of saltwater fishing when a bad day meant you didn’t hook something in twenty minutes; and explorers who stooped to naming islands after favourite racehorses. We also meet a “bouquet of characters,” including a lyrical logger known as Pete the Poet; a diabolical seagoing remittance man; the saintly Quaker philosopher Hubert Evans and White’s barrier-busting Aunt Jean who taught him the advantages of “scientifically enlarging the truth.” Along with accounts of waste disposal wars and wry observations on modern technology, Here On the Coast offers a West Coast counterpart to such favourites as Letters From Wingfield Farm and Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.
About the author
Howard White was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC. He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens`), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria. In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon.
In this collection of 50 unique stories, there is something for everyone: an ode to outhouses, the tale of Pender Harbour’s best doctor (who had many a child named after him), a compelling testament to cats, or an honest soliloquy about climate change.
My personal favourite of all the anecdotes? “Muse in Caulk Boots,” a lovely remembrance of White’s Aunt Jean, who strictly asked White not to write about her after her passing. Luckily for us readers, he did. Within a single short essay, he writes about fragments of her life, and how she taught him the art of storytelling. He explains it as “scientifically enlarging facts by shifting them along in the direction they want to go anyway.” That is the heart of this book — White marginally stretching the truth to create a compelling read that you can’t put down, full of humour, candidness, and the spirit of the West Coast.
Kyla Dowling, The Peak
Praise for Here on the Coast:
Howie White’s story-telling voice is intimate, funny, and oh so smart. Everything you want to know about the misnamed Sunshine Coast is in these pages, and you’ll love what you find out, whether you’ve been there or not. People, place names, the folly of owning a boat, snow-birding, gumboots and sex—all are illuminated by the most engaging of minds you’ll ever come across. What a delight this book is, what a classic it will become.
—Lorna Crozier, poet and author
Grounded in the Sunshine Coast northwest of Vancouver, the fifty vignettes Howard White shares in Here on the Coast invite each of us to reflect on our own lives and communities.
—Jean Barman, historian and author
Praise for Howard White's previous work:
... White's sincere reverence for the coast and its people, along with his good humoured originality, make his work something to treasure.
—Dennis Brown, The Fisherman
White writes ... with verve and piquancy. ... He draws on his own experiences to spin yarns that are humorous or suspenseful and always candid and earthy.
—Virginia Aulin, Vancouver Sun
... a cornucopia of insight and comedy.
—Max Wyman, The Province
Here on The Coast: Reflections from the Rainbelt, is ... a delight.
Filled with scurrilous and saintly characters, true tales, and absorbing history, Here on The Coast provides 50 brief narratives that will have you alternately chuckling and shaking your head at the range of pluck and folly of those who settled here over the last century and a half.
Rik Jespersen, Coast Reporter
Other titles by Howard White
A Mysterious Humming Noise
Celebrating 100 Years of Al Purdy
Writing in the Rain
Raincoast Chronicles 23
Harbour Publishing 40th Anniversary Edition
The Airplane Ride
Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five
Raincoast Chronicles 18
The Sunshine Coast
From Gibsons to Powell River
Raincoast Chronicles 17
Raincoast Chronicles 16
Time & Tide: A History of Telegraph Cove