A Perfect Eden: Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island

Michael Layland


Shortlisted for two 2016 BC Book Prizes
Finalist for the 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing

A compelling history of the earliest explorers to Vancouver Island, brought to life with illustrations and maps.

In 1842, when explorer James Douglas encountered the rugged natural paradise that would become Vancouver Island, he described it as “a perfect Eden.” This book gathers the early recorded histories and personal accounts left by Chinese seafarers, Spanish and British naval officers, traders seeking sea otter pelts, colonial surveyors, as well as soldiers, settlers, and other adventurers, starting from many centuries ago up to 1858. Collected here in detail for the first time, these accounts create a multilayered tale of discovery and exploration.

A Perfect Eden is the companion volume to the acclaimed The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island, which was shortlisted for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice BC Book Prize, and for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.

The Royal Museum Shop is operated by the Royal BC Museum Foundation. All proceeds from the sale of merchandise go directly towards supporting the many fine programs and special events at the Royal BC Museum.

October 2016, Hardcover, 256 pages

ISBN 9781771511773

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Michael Layland was president of the Victoria Historical Society, the Friends of the BC Archives, and is an amateur naturalist. Trained as an officer and mapmaker in the Royal Engineers, now retired, he has authored three books on the progression of European knowledge of Vancouver Island. Discover more at michaellayland.com.

Additional information

Dimensions 10.125 × 9.375 in

Paperback, Hardcover


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