search : contact us : about us : site guide : home

  University of British Columbia Press
 Search Our Catalogue
  search by subject

 UBC Press
About UBC Press
Conferences & Events
Contact Us
Media Centre
Publishing With UBC Press
Publishers Represented
Staff Directory

Forthcoming Titles
How To Order
Recent Reviews
Review Copies

 Join Our Mailing List
Sign Up
Privacy Statement
Frequent Questions
Privacy Statement
Site Guide
Website Feedback

 Featured Title
Robert Brown and the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition
John Hayman  

$31.95 Paperback
Release Date: 1/1/1989
ISBN: 9780774803953    

216 Pages

The Pioneers of British Columbia series


About the Book

Robert Brown, a twenty-one-year-old Scotsman, arrived on Vancouver Island in 1863 for the purpose of collecting seeds, roots, and plants for the Botanical Association of Edinburgh. Relations with his employer quickly deteriorated, however, and when the opportunity arose in 1864 to head the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, Brown eagerly accepted the position as its commander.

During the four and a half months of the expedition, Brown kept a journal which is published here for the first time. It is remarkable for its record of life on Vancouver Island over a century ago and its description of the island's pristine wilderness as well as for its proposals for future economic development. The accounts of agricultural settlements at Cowichan, Chemainus, and Comox and of the coal-mining town of Nanaimo are among the earliest available.

The Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition did not venture north of Comox, but it crossed the island at several points, often by new routes, and in the process left its mark by giving place names to several locations. The expedition's most celebrated achievement was the discovery of gold at Leech River, named after the second-in-command, which resulted in a short but sensational gold rush.

Robert Brown was exceptionally interested in the way of life of the native people. His entries on land reserve policies and on the failure to settle land claims are especially pertinent today.

Excerpts from his related writings, among them one of the earliest records of a potlatch (at Alberni) and a collection of Indian myths and legends display an appreciation unusual at that time.

Most of the known drawings of the expedition by Frederick Whymper, the travelling artist, are included in the book and give a contemporary view of many of the sites the expedition encountered. A checklist of Brown's other writings on the northwest coast completes the book.

About the Author(s)

John Hayman (editor) is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria.

Table of Contents

Illustrations and Maps


1. The Land We Live In
2. Journal of the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition
3. A Guest at a Potlatch
4. A Collection of Indian Myths and Legends

Appendix 1: Published Writings by Robert Brown Relating to the Northwest Coast
Appendix 2: The Drawings of Frederick Whymper



Recovers Robert Brown from relative obscurity and establishes him as an important British Columbia explorer and ethnographer.. . . . an important contribution to the early history of Vancouver Island.

- Tina Loo, The Beaver

Valuable as a primary source of information on Vancouver Island when it was still in its pristine state. . . . meticulously prepared and should be part of any large collection of B.C. history.

- Fred Faulkes, BCLA Reporter

An attractive volume, carefully edited a deserving of a wide readership. Too few books of substance have been published about Vancouver Island. This one is a significant addition.

- Clarence Karr, BC Studies

Sample Chapter

A sample chapter of this title is not available at this time. For further information, please email

Related Topics

History > Canada
BC Studies
BC Studies > History

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Robert Brown and the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

2001 UBC Press
2029 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z2
t. 604.822.5959 | f. 604.822.6083 | e.
Vancouver Web Design by Internet-Exposure