To be in such company as Robert Budd, Roy Henry Vickers, Richard Wagamese, Ken Mather and many more, is a true honour.
Now, nine weeks later, the book is still on the list and has fluctuated up and down, currently at #5.
The BC Bestseller list is compiled by Read Local BC, “which is a project from the Association of Book Publishers of BC that celebrates the vibrant community of authors, publishers, bookstores, and libraries that make up our province’s literary landscape.”
Thank you to everyone who purchased this book, thank you also to the booksellers and to Caitlin Press staff who have done such a great job of promotion, as well.
After looking longingly of pictures of the cover of “Cataline: The Life of BC’s Legendary Packer” online, I was happy to receive a box of my books last month. It’s been really fun to sell them to friends and family and to people who have been following me on social media for a while and waiting patiently for the book to be ready.
If you are in the Quesnel area and want a personalized copy, let me know. I can also mail signed copies within Canada for $24 (includes tax) plus postage. Your favourite local bookstore can also order the book for you. Canadian customers can also order the book directly from Caitlin Press. For international customers, the book can be purchased from the usual online retailers.
Cataline used to pack for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and correspondence from that time showed he frustrated the straight-laced Company’s men with his unique and somewhat casual approach to business and financial matters.
I also picked up a few pen and ink printed greeting cards depicting local (Quesnel and Barkerville, BC) historical events and people. I love this little card that depicts Cataline:
There is an anecdote inside:
And the back of the card says “The Barkerville Trail HastiNotes” which were printed by Spartan Printing, Quesnel:
Whenever I’m doing a research project or research for a book or article, I always scour local stores or online sites like eBay for related ephemera. It makes the past so much more real and alive.
In the book “Cataline: The Life of BC’s Legendary Packer” I used a portion of packer Frank Sylvester’s journal to illustrate how the packers and their animals moved through the day and how they used already existing trails. As Jean “Cataline” Caux left no journals, we look to others who trod in the same paths as he to increase our understanding of the packer’s life. We are fortunate to have this account from Sylvester, who at that time had a shop in Lillooet.
So in the early part of the year, I purchased a new stock of goods, went in with Snyder & Linny in their pack train, and started for Fort Alexander [Alexandria], at that time the head of mule navigation on the Fraser. I left Lillooet on March 12 and we were the second train of the year to leave.… Our train consisted of 42 mules, none carrying less than 300 pounds [136 kilograms], and a few as high as 400 pounds [181 kilograms].… The rule of pack trains wastwo men to every ten mules, and we had consequently eight Mexicans as packers, besides the Indian who rode ahead and led the bell mare.… These animals come for two purposes: while travelling, [the bell mare carries] the precious “kitchen,” usually two boxes containing all the camp silver-ware, namely the tin cups, tin plates and iron spoons. We had no knives and forks as forks were not needed… as the menu consisted daily of bacon & beans.… All the men of the train rode mules or horses, but we had about 20 miners who were going north with us who walked the entire way, although we packed their blankets, etc., on top of one pack, free. When we left Lillooet, the Fraser was still frozen over solid, and we crossed the river on the ice with the loaded train. We left in the early morning but only went as far as the Fountain. (Frank Sylvester, address to the Board of Trade in Victoria circa 1907-1908 quoted in Lloyd Jeck, British Columbia Trails Heading North (Clearwater, BC: Maieck Publishing, 2011) 170-78). For more information on Frank Sylvester, the University of Victoria Archives is a repository for the family papers.
After they left Fountain, they went around Pavilion Mountain, then through Marble Canyon (where Cataline sometimes wintered his horses), to Hat Creek, then to the Bonaparte river and finally headed north on his way to Alexandria.
My friend and fellow author Nancy Marguerite Anderson has an excellent blog where she writes about “the people who worked in the Territory West of the Rocky Mountains before 1858.” In a well-researched blog post on he examines Frank Sylvester’s journey to determine whether the packers were accurate when they say they used the Hudson’s Bay Company Brigade trails. It’s definitely worth a read to see where we know the trails overlapped and where we don’t.