Richard Somerset Mackie

Richard MackieBorn in Edmonton in 1957, Richard Mackie moved to Vancouver Island when he was 11 and soon started digging up Victorian-era bottle dumps on the margins of mud flats on Tsehum Harbour, North Saanich, starting beneath his parents’ home and moving out from there. He probed the muddy shorelines with a metal rod and learned to distinguish between buried glass and rock. Soon he had a bedroom full of old bottles and pottery pieces. This was worthwhile salvage work because the tidal estuaries tended to get filled in for parking lots or dredged for marinas.

Richard has been uncovering, salvaging, and interpreting the past ever since. He worked as an archaeologist for a number of universities and museums, studied medieval and modern European history at St. Andrews University, and studied Canadian history and historical geography at the universities of Victoria and British Columbia.

Richard has written two Vancouver Island logging histories (Island Timber and Mountain Timber), both published by Sono Nis Press, and is working on a third in the series (Pacific Timber). Sono Nis Press also published his The Wilderness Profound (1995; reprinted 2002), the biography of George Drabble, an early settler and surveyor on Vancouver Island. Richard is also writing the biography of the environmental activist Melda Buchanan (1924-2004) of Comox. He lectures frequently and teaches creative non-fiction workshops in the Writing and Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University and at writers' festivals throughout the province. He lives in Vancouver, BC.

Visit Richard Mackie's website at

Titles by the Author

Hamilton Mack Laing


Hamilton Mack Laing was a long-lived, widely published, notable Canadian naturalist. Laing's naturalist beliefs were common to his era: animal management was part of healthy environmental work. This biography explores a man and a philosophy of conservation that insisted the naturalist be a good man with a gun.


Buy from StoreBiography, 234 pp, 6 x 9, b/w photos
ISBN 0-919203-74-4, cloth, $25.00

Island Timber

Richard Somerset Mackie charts the history of the largest logging concern on coastal British Columbia—the Comox Logging Company—from the turn of the twentieth century to the devastating Sayward fire of 1938. This story of the heroic age of coastal logging is rich with stories, humour, and pithy sidebars on coastal legends like Big Jack McKenzie, "Greasy" McQuinn, "Promise Bob" Filberg, "Highpockets" Hughie Buy from StoreCliffe, Boomstick Thompson, and Sailor Lehtonen. Dozens of stunning photos and maps that have never before appeared in print.

Mountain Timber

The Comox Logging Company in the Vancouver Island Mountains

On one level the story of loggers and their machines—cold deckers, skidders, geared locies and many more—Mountain Timber is also a dense and engrossing social history of central Island in the mid-20th century. The book's nine chapters alternate revealingly between logging and social history: between working landscapes and the communities they supported. A stunning visual feast, this richly illustrated history contains 340 photographs of the men, women, families and communities supported by logging. Mackie has gathered most of the photos, many of them hitherto unpublished, from 60 private collections. Mountain Timber also contains 18 maps and diagrams of logging camps, methods and aspects of railway and highlead logging technology.

Mountain Timber was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Historical Writing (2010)

Buy from StoreHISTORY • 8.5 x 11 • 320 pp
350+ b/w photos & maps
ISBN 13: 978-1-55039-171-8; 1-55039-171-2
softcover • $42.95

The Wilderness Profound

Victorian Life on the Gulf of Georgia

Revised and updated with new information. In July 1862, George Fawcett Drabble, a prosperous farmer in the English Midlands, impulsively boarded the Silistria, a China Clipper ship bound for the gold colony of British Columbia. Dressed in a top hat and a silk suit, twenty-nine-year-old Drabble had gone to Liverpool to say farewell to his friends, but at the last minute he boarded the vessel, saying “Wait Boys! I’m going with you!” Louisa Drabble, his wife, died soon after his sudden departure, and George Drabble stayed on Vancouver IslaBuy from Storend, settling eventually on a farm in the Comox Valley. His three young children never joined him.

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