Where in the world is Volume 3?

We are asked this question a lot at Wild Coast Publishing, and the question can be directed two different ways: where is volume 3 of The Wild Coast series of guidebooks, and where is volume 3 of the BC Coast Explorer series.

In the way of background, The Wild Coast series was the original guidebook series for exploring the British Columbia coast. The first volume was originally printed in 2003, with volume 3 following in 2008. The series was published by Whitecap Books and written by me (John Kimantas).  

Several reprintings of the volumes followed. Unfortunately, Whitecap Books went bankrupt about the time volume 1 was to be updated and reprinted. The titles were picked up by Fitzhenry and Whiteside of Toronto, but new editions were never produced by them. As a result, to ensure guidebooks for the British Columbia coast were available, I produced the BC Coast Explorer series through Wild Coast Publishing. They were an updated version with better maps and a more mature approach to the content -- that is, an additional decade or two of experience added to the information imparted. 

At that time, beginning about 2014, copies of The Wild Coast volume 3 were still available, and so there was no hurry to produce volume 3 of the BC Coast Explorer series. As the time approached for replacing the older Wild Coast version, something else changed -- the nature of traveling the British Columbia coast.

The change was aboriginal rights and title, something that didn't for the most part exist while writing the earlier Wild Coast series of books. Aboriginal rights and title meant indigenous control of traditional lands, and that was beginning to manifest itself in a variety of ways. The area to be covered in volume 3 was already in difficult territory given the great number of first nations and their overlapping claims. Originally most of the Wild Coast campsites were simply locations found suitable while canvassing the shorelines. With indigenous oversight, this meant these locations were on potentially important cultural or historic locations, and so possibly subject to restrictions to access. An example would be Beware Passage near Broughton Archipelago, which the Mamalilikulla hold as an area where recreational use is not appropriate. 

While first nations began to exert control, Wild Coast Publishing was introducing a range of mapsheets for the coast providing travel information that could be quickly updated should the need arise. Given the fluidity of the access to coastal areas in the east Vancouver Island region including Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and Broughton-Johnstone, Wild Coast Publishing made the decision to forego volume 3 covering those areas and instead focus on the mapsheets, which have the advantage of being considerably less static and so not so easily outdated as a book.

What this means is we are endeavouring the make the mapsheets the localized replacements for much of the same information you would get in a guidebook. While many would prefer a guidebook for research and consideration, the business case doesn't support the investment at this time. We will reconsider annually, of course. The reality, however, is the coast is going to be in a state of flux for decades yet, and until every first nation finalizes its agenda for public access to coastal locations, everything is in doubt. I had the honour of reaching out to dozens of first nations -- just about every one one on the BC coast -- to discuss public access within their territories, and the response was open, gracious and understanding. The biggest hurdle was the capacity and resources of the nations themselves to undertake the task of analyzing recreational use in the face of larger issues such as housing and medical care, as just two examples.

The result is we will all have to be patient, and to follow first nations protocols as they are developed. Eventually public access will be formalized and the casual red campsite icons will change to sanctioned locations where cultural, historic and environmental values have been assessed and the recreational use won't conflict with them -- if the protocols are followed.

And that is the key, to follow protocols. We have already seen prime camping locations such as Tent Island near Chemainus withdrawn from public use by a first nation due to abuse by visitors. We can expect similar examples around the coast unless we act as caretakers more than we act as users. Following no-trace camping rules has never been so important.


John Kimantas is publisher of Wild Coast Publishing and the author of nine titles as well as producer of the Wild Coast series of mapsheets. 

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