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ISBN 13: 978-1-55017-289-8
ISBN 10: 1-55017-289-1
black and white photos throughout
6 x 9 - 250 pp
November 2003
CAD$32.95 • USD$32.95

High Boats

A Century of Salmon Remembered
"Well-illustrated and well-researched, this book provides an insider's look into a world that is vanishing as surely as the tea clipper and the fishing schooner." -Victoria Times-Colonist

Book Description

For most of the 20th century, life in British Columbia’s remote coastal towns was rough, raw and often dangerous, but it was still the golden age of the West Coast fishery. If you were smart, tough and lucky enough to find a big run, roll with the weather and stay afloat, there was good money to be made on the boats—money enough to raise a family, buy a house, maybe put down a deposit on a bigger boat.

There was also steady, if lower-paid, work ashore in the cannery towns such as Alert Bay, Namu and Ceepeecee that sprouted like mushrooms along the coast. Whites, Chinese, Japanese and Natives worked hard, played rough and shaped a unique West Coast culture.

In the 21st century, however, that way of life is on the wane. The advent of refrigerated packers put small-town canneries out of business. Then salmon stocks began to drop, and Ottawa started buying back fish boats to shrink the fleet.

High Boats is a celebration of—and an elegy for—that golden age. Through careful research, a priceless personal trove of photographs and sharp, earthy prose, Pat Wastell Norris wraps the history of coastal settlements around the lives of two veteran fishermen taking their boat for one last trip. When speaking through these characters, or guiding the reader around her childhood haunts in Alert Bay, Norris paints word pictures so vivid you can almost feel the gillnetters roll and smell the bull kelp.