The Story of Duncan
Small City in a Big Valley
by Tom Henry
Tom Henry recounts the history of Duncan with the rigour of a historian, and the warmth and enthusiasm of a hometown boy.
Book DescriptionWhen William Duncan first came to the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island in 1864, he gazed over the countryside and saw fields and paddocks, fences and cows and snorting pigs, and a log cabin with smoke rising from its chimney. It was the kind of vision on which to build a town. Small City in a Big Valley traces the realization of that vision.
Duncan has been known over the years as the Milk Bottle of Victoria, the Egg Basket of Canada, the Sweet Pea Capital of Canada and the City of Totems, and has undergone many transformations. It started as a Coast Salish village, then became a British settlement - founded by upper class emigres who came not so much to build a new culture as to re-create an old one-and before World War II it was the home of a vibrant Japanese community. Today Duncan is a small town striving to redefine itself in a changing modern world.
The history is brought to life by Henry's playful and affectionate profiles of the town's seemingly limitless cast of eccentrics, including Titus, the worst road builder ever to grade a clearing; Sir Edward Clive Oldnell Long Phillips--Wooley, a lawyer, diplomat and big-game hunter who lined the walls of his Duncan estate with the heads of jaguar, tiger and wildebeest; and Mayor James Wragg, who orchestrated a highway blockade to protest being snubbed by the newly wed Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Henry, who was born and raised in Duncan, recounts the area's history with the rigour of a historian, and with the warmth and enthusiasm of a hometown boy. The result is an informative, intriguing, endlessly entertaining history.