Our New Book

Step into Wilderness:

A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley

by Deborah Griffiths, Christine Dickinson, Judy Hagen, Catherine Siba

From shores to peaks, Step into Wilderness recounts moments of ingenuity and hardship as well as fun and enjoyment in and around the Comox Valley.

About the Book

The spectacular landscapes in and surrounding the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island have long shaped the lives of the valley’s diverse inhabitants. From expansive shorelines to snowy mountain peaks, the region’s wide variety of attractions – including such landmarks as Forbidden Plateau, Comox Glacier and Mount Washington – have lured people over their thresholds for sustenance, recreation and survival.

Step into Wilderness features never-before-seen photos from the Courtenay and District Museum collection, showcasing the growing community’s varied interactions with the wilderness they inhabit, from early hiking and skiing expeditions to encounters with wildlife, afternoon tea in the wilderness, beach races and early outdoor activity clubs. The collection also explores the ways in which inhabitants have altered the landscape, including Comox Estuary fish traps and stump blasting. These unique and arresting photos are complemented by equally engaging accounts of individuals surviving and thriving in the midst of natural beauty and great devastation, including survivors of the Merville fire of 1922 and pioneer skiers on Forbidden Plateau during the Great Depression.

This remarkable volume illustrates a community’s evolving relationship with the natural wonders surrounding it, as well as the emergence of outdoor exploration on Vancouver Island.

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All royalties from the sale of Step into Wilderness will go to the Courtenay and District Museum.

About the Authors

Deborah Griffiths
Deborah Griffiths is the Executive Director of the Courtenay and District Museum and has been involved in curatorship in the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island for over forty years. She has an MA from Royal Roads University.

Christine Dickinson
Christine Dickinson is an educator with a passion for regional history. She co-authored Atlin: The Story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush (Atlin Historical Society, 1995), which received the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award.

Judy Hagen
Judy Hagen has been writing her popular “Hunt for History” column for Comox Valley newspapers since 1992. She received an award from the Canadian Museums Association for her book Comox Valley Memories, published by the Courtenay and District Museum in 1993.

Catherine Siba
Catherine Siba is the Curator of Social History at the Courtenay and District Museum. She has led a number of historic digitization projects and has been involved with museum curatorship and research for many years.

Ernst Vegt
Ernst Vegt, photo editor for Step into Wilderness, has spent fifty years in the graphic arts field specializing in colour reproduction and has taught colour reproduction at VCC, BCIT and Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand.

Griffiths, Dickinson, Hagen, Siba and Vegt also collaborated on Watershed Moments (Harbour, 2015).


Publisher: Harbour Publishing
ISBN: 9781550178937
Cover: Hardback
Contents: 150 B&W and colour photos, maps and ephemera
Size: 8.5 in x 11.0 in – 208 pp
Release: October 2020
Price: CAD $39.95 / USD $39.95