Dave Obee, Times Colonist,
October 2, 2016
With A Perfect Eden, Layland looks at the people . . . who explored the waters around the island, taking knowledge away and leaving behind, in many cases, their names
. . . This book is informative and highly readable, and no matter how much you have read about exploration of the Island, you will surely learn from this book as well.
Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun, December 21, 2016
Whether newcomer or native to the province, this Christmas shopping season offers some unusual new books that tell the story of B.C. and its fascinating heritage of history, culture and environment. A Perfect Eden leads part two of Hume's Christmas list of books from and about our province.
Robert Amos, Times Colonist, December 4, 2016
A Perfect Eden: Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island, Michael Layland, TouchWood Editions, Victoria, 2016, 240 pp. $39.95
Three years ago, Michael Layland produced a wonderful book, The Land of Heart’s Delight. Beyond its lovable title, it is a compendium of the earliest maps of Vancouver Island.
Layland provided a fine text, grounded in his own experience as a professional surveyor. But for all their historical interest, maps in reproduction can be a bit dry and technical.
Thank heavens Layland has followed it with A Perfect Eden, the perfect companion to Heart’s Delight. This book provides the appealing narrative details of the same story, illustrated with antique engravings and beautiful maps, complemented by a selection of modern paintings of historical scenes by John Horton, Harry Heine and Gordon Miller.
Layland is the perfect guide. He has read everything about Vancouver Island from 1774 to 1862, and delivers the choicest morsels from hundreds of log books and diaries. He introduces us, in pictures and stories, to the people whose names we live with every day — Blanshard and Menzies and Quadra — and takes us with them as they charted these waters and measured the land.
Throughout, Layland takes special notice of the generosity and kindness of the indigenous people here. He tells of the time when Capt. George Vancouver’s notebook was pilfered by a Namgis person, which Vancouver said demonstrated “a natural propensity for thieving.”
Layland comments: “He seemed unaware, however, that his own behaviour was just as reprehensible to Cheslakees. Vancouver assumed that he and his men were at liberty to take on fresh water, timber, firewood, plants and berries without payment or even permission.”
This book is my top pick.