Lecture: Aloha Wanderwell: The Border-Smashing, Record-Setting Life of the World’s Youngest Explorer


Join us for a lecture based on the recently released Aloha Wanderwell with presenter and co-author Randolph Eustace-Walden, starting at 7pm in the Courtenay and District Museum.

In 1922, a 15-year-old girl, fed up with life in a French convent school, answered an ad for a travelling secretary. Tall, blonde, and swaggering with confidence, she might have passed for twenty. She also knew what she wanted: to become the first female to drive around the world. Her name was Aloha Wanderwell.

Aloha’s mission was foolhardy in the extreme. Drivable roads were scarce and cars were alien to much of the world. The Wanderwell Expedition created a specially modified Ford Model T for the journey that featured gun scabbards and a sloped back that could fold out to become a darkroom. All that remained was for Aloha to learn how to drive.

Photo courtesy of Valri Baker-Lundahl.

Aloha became known around the globe. She was photographed in front of the Eiffel Tower, parked on the back of the Sphinx, firing mortars in China, and smiling at a tickertape parade in Detroit. By the age of 25, she had become a pilot, a film star, an ambassador for world peace, and the centrepiece of one of the biggest unsolved murder mysteries in California history. Her story defied belief, but it was true. Every bit of it. Except for her name. The American Aloha Wanderwell was, in reality, the Canadian Idris Hall.

Drawing upon Aloha’s diaries and travel logs, as well as films, photographs, newspaper accounts, and previously classified government documents, Aloha Wanderwell reveals the astonishing story of one of the greatest — and most outrageous — explorers of the 1920s.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase ($24.95 plus GST, Goose Lane Editions) and signing after the talk.

Admission to the evening is $5 per Historical Society member; $6 non-members (plus GST). Advance tickets recommended.

Tickets can be purchased over the phone by calling 250-334-0686 ext 5.

Photograph by Ian Redd

About the Presenter:

Co-author Randolph Eustace-Walden has worked as a writer, editor, researcher, television producer, and director. He has twice been nominated for Emmy and Gemini awards and has won several Leo awards.

The Comox Valley Connection:

Members of Aloha’s family have owned land in North Vancouver, Qualicum Beach and Merville, BC. Her father, Herbert Hall, was a Vancouver Island rancher and developer before WW I.

Praise for the book:
“Aloha Wanderwell must surely be the most remarkable woman adventurer to remain virtually unknown to history. This marvellous book sets the record straight, even as it powerfully evokes a distant era of travel when the survivors of the Great War set out to go anywhere but home.”
—Wade Davis, author of The Lost Amazon and The Serpent and the Rainbow