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In Nature’s Realm has been awarded two significant accolades: The Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for Outstanding Book on British Columbia, by UBC Library and BC BookWorld, and The Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing awarded by the BC Historical Federation
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Michael Layland reading at the launch of In Nature’s Realm at Munro’s Books, October 2019.

In Nature’s Realm is a companion volume to Layland’s two previous titles: A Perfect Eden: Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island, and The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island (now in its second printing. Profusely illustrated with historical and modern images, the book is a celebration of the richly diverse flora and fauna of Vancouver Island as explored through the records of explorers, settlers, and visitors, and with due respect to the wealth of Indigenous traditional knowledge of the island’s ecosystems.

In Nature’s Realm gathers initial reports, recorded histories, and personal accounts left by Vancouver Island’s early naturalists who studied the region’s flora and fauna.

Many, such as Archibald Menzies, accompanied English and Spanish explorations investigating the coastal geography for colonial expansion. Doctor-naturalists such as John Scouler, David Douglas, and Robert Brown worked with the Hudson’s Bay Company and collected specimens. Irish-born John Macoun, a renowned naturalist, brought his expertise to Vancouver Island, as did botanical artists Sarah Lindley (Lady Crease) and Emily Henrietta Woods.

“You are also carefully to observe the nature of the Soil & the produce thereof; the Animals & Fowls that inhabit or frequent it; the Fishes that are to be found in the Rivers or upon the Coast, and in what plenty; and in case there are any, peculiar to such places, to describe them as minutely, and to make accurate drawings of them, you are to bring home Specimens of each, as also of the Seeds of such Trees, Shrubs, Plants, Fruits and Grains, peculiar to those Places, as you may be able to collect, and to transmit them to our Secretary, that proper examination and experiments may be made of them.”
Included in the scope of James Cook’s scientific mandate for his third voyage, 1776.

“[Your task is] of an extensive nature as it includes an investigation of the whole of Natural History of the countries you are to visit . . . to enumerate all of the Trees, Shrubs, Grasses Ferns, and Mosses . . . to note what sort of Beasts, Birds and Fishes likely to prove useful either for food or commerce . . . and always to act as you judge most likely to promote the interest of Science, and contribute to the increase of human knowledge.”
Part of Archibald Menzies’s orders prior to his voyage with George Vancouver, February, 1791

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An Island in Bird’s Eye Cove, watercolour by celebrated Vancouver Island artist E.J. Hughes, 1993.
The island is called Chisholm after the first settler of the area, William Chisholm.
Used with the kind permission of the artist’s executors.
I may say that the botany of Vancouver Island is the most interesting in the Dominion. . . . There is no better field in Canada than [the] island for collecting interesting things. . . . I discovered a new species of fish at Oak Bay.

Letter from Prof. John Macoun to Dr. Charles F. Newcombe, March 18, 1890

Background image on this page is of Scouler’s surfgrass. Photo by Courtnay Janiak.

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In Nature’s Realm
Early Naturalists Explore Vancouver Island
by Michael Layland, 2019
published by Touchwood Editions
10.125 x 9.375 inches
288 pages, hardcover
ISBN 9781771513067
CDN $40
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