Books in Canada
Toronto, ON

FIRST NOVELS, by W.P. Kinsella, October 1, 2003

When Eagles Call, by Susan Dobbie (Ronsdale Press, $19.95, 240 pages, ISBN: 1553800052), is an earnest historical novel set in what is now the Langley-White Rock area of British Columbia. Dobbie tells the story of a young Hawaiian named Kimo who is recruited by the Hudson's Bay Co., and becomes one of many Hawaiians to work at the Company forts along the Fraser River in Canada. We learn, in meticulously researched detail, of the hard lives of the Company employees as they encounter the unfriendly elements and various Native peoples, some friendly, some not so. Kimo intends to stay only for the duration of his three-year contract, but he gradually comes to love the foggy coastal areas and he falls in love with a half-native-half-French girl named Rose Fanon, who is remarkably independent considering her circumstances.

Sometimes the historical details get in the way of the story, which is really a tale of love with historical significance. As someone who has lived in this very area for 25 years and has zero knowledge of its history, I found the story fascinating. Only one thing troubled me, for an historical novel there is not a single date given in the whole story. I was guessing about 1800, but late in the book it is mentioned that James K. Polk was running for President of the USA, which would set Kimo's three year contract at about 1841-1844. This novel will have great appeal to readers interested in this little known aspect of the history of British Columbia.

Reprinted by permission of W.P. Kinsella