Author Tags: Haida Gwaii, Local History, Maritime, Women
Raised along the B.C. coast, June Cameron was the first woman to race her own boat in all the major B.C. sailing races. She has been sailing up and down the coast of BC since the mid-1970s. Holding a Masters from UBC in special needs communication, she has published articles in Pacific Yachting magazine.
Inspired by her late father’s taped reminiscences, Cameron has recalled her own visits to her grandparent’s homestead on Cortez Island during the summers of the 1930s and 1940s in Destination Cortez Island (Heritage, 1999 / Fine Edge $17.95). She travelled to and from Cortez in a 36-foot wooden boat, the Loumar, purchased for $750 in 1930.
A mutual love of sailing, fishing and beachcombing brought June Cameron and Paul Holsinger together and has resulted in their book 26 Feet to the Charlottes, Exploring the Land of the Haida (Heritage 2009). In 1983, after three summers of calm sailing together, the couple decided to cross Hecate Strait in Paul's 26-foot wooden sloop Wood Duck. June was used to skippering but it was a major undertaking for a small craft making only four-and-a-half nautical miles per hour and without the assistance of electronic navigational aids. As June and Paul visited uninhabited First Nations villages, a remote logging camp, a defunct whale meat cannery and abandoned gold and copper mines, they were struck by how hard it could be to make a living in the Charlottes. Like the islands' ancient inhabitants, they found themselves challenged to keep warm, find food, stay healthy and just plain survive.
Shelter from the Storm
Destination Cortez Island (Heritage 1999). 0-93865-60-X
26 Feet to the Charlottes, Exploring the Land of the Haida (Heritage 2009) 978-1-894974-61-5 $19.95
[BCBW 2009] "Local History" "Maritime" "Women" "QCI"
26 Feet to the Charlottes
from Peter Robson
June Cameron’s latest book, 26 Feet to the Charlottes, is one of those rare books with a timeless quality that will surely earn itself a place alongside classics like Wylie Blanchet’s The Curve of Time. Set in the summer of 1983, Cameron and friend Paul Holsinger set out for the wild, west coast of the Queen Charlottes in an aging 26 foot sloop with a tempermental Kermath gas engine. This was before the days of GPS, so they were forced to rely only on their compass and basic navigation skills to enter what were then unfamiliar and poorly charted harbours, especially on the west coast of the Charlottes..
As they sail the Inside Passage and across Hecate Strait to the Charlottes, they explore many popular stops as well as out-of-the-way anchorages, beachcombing, hiking and generally travel at a relaxing pace. They bake their own bread, hunt for fuel for their wood burning stove, and harvest abundant seafood (this was back when abalone were legal and there were always salmon for the catching). Throughout her narrative, Cameron weaves in plenty of fascinating coastal First Nations and pioneer history, natural history, stories of the decline of once thriving communities, and tales of the colourful loggers, fishermen and others they meet along the way.
Many books have been written about coastal cruising, but few have provided such an entertaining and informative read.
Cameron is also the author of the memoir Destination Cortes Island: A sailor’s life along the BC coast ((Heritage, 1999) and Shelter from the Storm; a sailor’s life of havens, high seas and discovery (Heritage 2001). Cameron lives on Cortes Island.
–Peter A. Robson / Pacific Yachting