Synopses & Reviews
When Jim Spilsbury, B.C's most famous pioneer entrepreneur, teams up with master storyteller and literary craftsman Howard White, the result is a spell-binding romp up and down British Columbia's rugged coast; eighty years of fascinating anecdotes and memories distilled into 190 pages.
Jim Spilsbury grew up in a tent on Savary Island, squatting on crown land. His story is one of the classic "rags-to-riches" stories in Canadian history. As well as being as brilliant inventor and an ambitious, astute businessman, he had the intangible gift of being in the right place at the right time. In 1923, at the age of 18, primed with a correspondence course in electrical engineering, Jim Spilsbury began building sophisticated radio telephones. Fishermen bought them, loggers bought them, and eventually homesteaders, explorers and even governments bought them. "Radio boomed," Spilsbury recalls, "and it carried me with it."
As we follow Spilsbury in his adventures, we meet Frank Osborne, the genius engine-builder; Emil Gordon, the obsessive flamboyant Powell River salesman who sold everything from refrigerators to cows; Red Mahone, the obstreperous Boathouse cook and Spilsbury's own bizarre family, including his rifle-toting mother who cut her hair like a man's and golfed on the beaches at low tide.
Howard White, himself a child of BC's backwaters, brings the voice of authority to Spilsbury's amazing tale. A rare gem of authentic storytelling - it flows fast and bright, like a mountain stream.
"A lively collection made still livelier by White's bright writing - the stuff of which folklore is woven."
Shortlisted for the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice BC Book Prize.
Spilsbury's coast is that part of the Inside Passage between the Fraser River and the top end of Vancouver Island. Spilsbury is Jim Spilsbury, pioneer, painter, aviator, inventor, and matchless raconteur, who grew up in a tent on Savary Island. SPILSBURY'S COAST is 80 years' worth of memories from a shrewd, funny, outrageous "coast rat", a runaway hardcover bestseller.
About the Author
Jim Spilsbury was born in Findern, Derbyshire but came to the BC coast in his infancy and remained there all his life. He began manufacturing small radios in the 1920s and in 1941 founded Spilsbury and Hepburn Ltd, later Spilsbury and Tindall Ltd., one of Canada's best known radio-telephone manufacturers. In 1943, Spilsbury founded Queen Charlotte Airlines which merged with Pacific Western Airlines in 1955. He also authored several books including Spilsbury's Album, and The Accidental Airline.Howard White was born in 1945 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the BC coast and never got over it. He is still to be found stuck barnacle-like to the shore at Pender Harbour, BC. He started Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s and his own books include A Hard Man to Beat (bio), The Men There Were Then (poems), Spilsbury's Coast (bio), The Accidental Airline (bio), Patrick and the Backhoe (childrens'), Writing in the Rain (anthology) and The Sunshine Coast (travel). He was awarded the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History in 1989. In 2000, he completed a ten-year project, The Encyclopedia of British Columbia. He has been awarded the Order of BC, the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award and a Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Victoria. In 2007, White was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has twice been runner-up in the Whisky Slough Putty Man Triathlon.