A prudent and intentional examination of privilege and belonging in Chilliwack Lake by retired environmental lawyer and grandmother. Curious about the previous inhabitants of the lake where her family has spent the summer for over one hundred years, author Shelley O'Callaghan starts researching and writing about the area. But what begins as a personal journey of one woman's relationship to the land and her desire to uncover the history of her family's remote cabin turns into an exploration and questioning of our rights as settlers upon a land that was inhabited long before we came.
In her research, O'Callaghan uncovers a history that runs as deep as the three hundred metre lake itself. Eager to pass on her discoveries, she shares her journey with her six grandchildren. Together they learn of her grandfather's intriguing connection with the First Nation's chief, whose ancestry goes back to the earliest recorded history at the lake, and her grandmother's attendance at a school where First Nations girls were taught servitude instead of knowledge. They find the headstone of an American scout with the 1858 International Boundary Commission Survey, a 1916 silver mine set up by Chief Sepass and the remnants of the original Indian Trail. They learn about trapper and prospector Charlie Lindeman, who introduced her grandfather to the lake in the early 1920s and rescued her mother and grandmother from a fire that engulfed the lake in the 1930s.
After a summer of discoveries, O'Callaghan and her grandchildren consider the impact of the legacy of white settlement in the area-what is received from the past and what is given to the future. As they reflect on the essence of a "summer cabin," a place that brings family together and that nourishes the soul with its solitude and beauty, they gain a new perspective on the inevitable repercussions of privilege and the nature of change.
Committed to social causes, Shelley O'Callaghan worked as a volunteer teacher for two years with the Canadian University Services Overseas in Zambia where she fostered literacy among adults in the rural communities and encouraged girls to stay in school and finish their education. She is passionate about history, social justice and the environment. O'Callaghan practiced environmental law for twenty-five years and has been recognized as one of Canada's pre-eminent environmental lawyers. She has published numerous articles and has been a frequent speaker at conferences on environmental law. O'Callaghan is a member of the North Shore Writers Association, the Whistler Writing Society and the Canadian Creative Non-Fiction Collective. She attended the 2014 Summer Workshop of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and a writer's workshop with Merilyn Simonds in 2016.