by Dave McBee

Get Lost Magagine June 3, 2001 Review


"Don't visit southwestern BC without it - even if you bring your car."


This is first book review I've ever written, and our editor had better not think she's getting this book back. I'm keeping it. And using it.

BC Car-Free: Exploring Southwestern British Columbia Without a Car, written engagingly by Brian Grover, is an indispensable resource for exploring the wild parts of Canada's westernmost province via public transport. The subject is near and dear to me, as I've done something similar for western Washington, and I'm overjoyed, and a little humbled, to see someone treating the subject so extensively, so thoroughly, and so well.

It's all here - everything you'll need to explore the back roads, back country, and wild coastline of southwestern British Columbia. The author gives you crisp, detailed maps with clever little icons representing your recreational options. He offers thorough written descriptions of dozens of possible trips, ranging from day bike trips along island roads to extensive weeklong expeditions along some of the most challenging rugged coastline in North America. He gives you a brief overview of how to ride a horse, and then tells you where you can get further instruction and rent one for the day. He gives you bus, train, and ferry schedules, and tells you how much they currently cost.

Grover shows readers how they can backpack, day trip, cycle, river raft, kayak, canoe, explore caves, and so much more. And all of it is accessible by public transport.

He keeps his focus: the book covers Vancouver and the lower mainland around it, Vancouver Island and the islands between there and the mainland, and the Cascade Mountains in the southern end of the province. And then he covers that area thoroughly. Curiously, he includes the San Juan Islands (they were, last I checked, part of the US, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt; perhaps Canada's planning something...).

He also weaves in historical background on the area, First Nations' perspectives, and enthralling highlights on local natural history. He gives readers valuable information on giardia, red tide, blisters, and bear attacks. He lists all the contact numbers you could possibly need - phone, web, and street address. His descriptions of substandard accommodations can be brutal, an honest service valued in a guidebook. He even tells you which side of the road you need to be on to catch your bus (believe me, this is an incredibly important detail when you're in a strange town and the next bus is tomorrow).

The only nitpicky criticism I can possibly make is that the tiny diamond - shaped icons (which refer the reader to nearby maps) on the contents pages are a bit difficult for me to read, but I'll just copy them over larger and quit whining. Seriously, that's the only thing even resembling a flaw I could dig up.

Grover has done great work here; I can't wait to see what he might do with the rest of Canada. Don't visit southwestern BC without it - even if you bring your car.

Editor's Note: Dave McBee allowed Your Editor to touch the book but only for three seconds. She couldn't leverage her leadership to keep the book, so instead she let the dog drink from his coffee cup when he wasn't looking.

The End