Tow Hill
Dusk on Tow Hill, Naikoon Provincial Park, Haida Gwaii. Photo: Lonely Planet

I do most of my traveling through the books I read. I’ve been to Asia and Africa, seen the castles of Europe and the rainforests of South America, across America and Down Under, but sometimes a setting just grabs me, makes me fall in love with a place I may never get to see. Haida Gwaii is one of those places.


I’m currently listening to The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny and Chief Inspector Gamache, the main character, has taken a short trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands In British Columbia. The islands were officially renamed  after the book was published, becoming Haida Gwaii, which means “People of the Island” in the native language. I know that when I get around to reviewing the book, I’ll concentrate on the characters, the plot, and the main setting, the small town of Three Pines, so I wanted to take minute to talk about this beautiful land, one that, at least from the story I’m reading seems to be caught between the worlds. It has one foot here and one foot the mists of time.

Haida Gwaii is an archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada, composed of two main islands and 150 smaller ones. It’s a land of mountains and great forests, of water and wild animals. It’s still a wilderness, to some extent, isolated from the mainland. The Haida people have held onto their culture, treasure it.

Photo: Asta's Adventures

I want to go to this land of mystery, where you can feel the spirits still. I want to see the totems, touch the giant red cedars, walk on the windswept beaches. I want to gaze up at the snow-covered mountain, listen to the stories, see the art. And, as an enticement to my husband, there’s always the fishing and kayaking.

I had never hear of Haida Gwaii before reading this story, but Penny captures it so well, makes it seem like a land apart, a mysterious, beautiful place, a place where the present and past still walk together, and people still believe, in their land, in their history, in each other.

What was the last place a book made you fall in love with?


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