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In Nature’s Realm
A Perfect Eden



Caroline Woodward's review for BC Booklook  May 5, 2020.

Ormsby Review #790 with announcement of two accolades along with the text of Richard Mackie’s foreword for the book, April 17, 2020.

Marianne Scott for British Columbia Magazine, Spring 2020.

Stephen Ruttan, for The Log, Friends of Ecological Reserves Newsletter, Autumn/Winter 2019/20.

Phyllis Reeve's essay for the Dorchester Review, Spring/Summer 2020.


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.

Read full review.

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.


Coastal Spectator Views and Reviews
Author sees maps as repositories of history 
by Margaret Thompson

Dave Obee, Times Colonist, November 3, 2013

“filled with dozens of details that help provide a better sense of where we live”

“It is readable, entertaining and informative, and will be a reference work for many years to come.” Read full review.

Mark Collin Reid, Editor-in-Chief, Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver

In the Google Earth era, it’s easy to forget that for most of the human age the planet was largely an unknown and mysterious place. Think of the timeless mariners’ warning that, beyond the tattered map edges, “Here be dragons…” Over centuries of voyages and journeys of exploration, the understanding of our world’s geography grew. With The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island, Michael Layland has created an attractive and absorbing book that focuses on a small corner of our country that was among the last regions to be explored by Europeans — the west coast of British Columbia. Filled with beautifully detailed colour and black-and-white reproductions, this coffee-table book is a must for fans of cartography and history. 

Phyllis Reeve’s article, “Mapping an Island Paradise” in The Dorchester Review, Spring/Summer 2014. “The maps are the story, glossed in a style so deceptively light-handed that the reader scarcely realizes how much information she has absorbed.”

Margaret Thompson, The Coastal Spectator, January 14, 2014

“meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated”

Barry Gough, BC Studies, Autumn, 2014

“In all this is a fine book, and a very handsome production . . . a credit to author and publisher alike.”

The Land of Hearts Delight
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