Notes on megamalls

Debut author blends memoir, mall history, and critique with a “self-effacing love letter to her hometown’s most famous institution.” —Logan Macnair reviews Big Mall: Shopping for Meaning, by Kate Black (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2024) $23.95 / 9781552454725

Thank you, donors!

Happy new year! I’m pleased to report that, so far, 113 donors have responded to the annual fundraiser we kicked off in November 2023.

Pioneer of ‘West Coast Modern’

“Even among the group of young architects who were transforming Victoria’s post-war urban landscape in the 1950s and ’60s with their ambitious Modernist designs, John Di Castri was an outlier.” Architectural historian Martin Segger reviews Wentworth Villa Architectural Heritage Museum’s recent retrospective ‘John Di Castri, Architect.’

No. 2000 for the BC Review!

When we launched The British Columbia Review — then The Ormsby Review — in September 2016, little did we expect that seven years later we’d post our 2000th review. I’m grateful to everyone — reviewers, publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers — for making it such a success and promoting BC writers, writing, and culture. It…
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BC Review Annual Fundraiser

BC Review Annual Fundraiser A note from Richard Mackie *  Dear friends, supporters, and readers of The British Columbia Review: On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of The British Columbia Review, I must remind readers of our continuing need for financial support. This request for private donations is done annually to keep…
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1858 ‘Obscure as much as to reveal’

Exploring Vancouver: Ten tours of the City and its Buildings (Fifth Edition) by Harold Kalman and Robin Ward Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2023 $29.95  /  9781990776274 Reviewed by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe * Exploring Vancouver has evolved alongside the city.  Once a series of First Nations settlements amidst a stupendous maritime setting, it became a lumber…
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1837 A dose of planetary reality

The Power of Dreams: 27 Years Off-grid in a Wilderness Valley by Dave and Rosemary Neads Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 2022 $24.95 /  9780888397188 Review by Phyllis Reeve * A couple built a house in the wilderness of Precipice Valley, on the ancient trade route linking BC’s Interior Plateau with the coast, and stayed for…
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1831 Bordellos and a dog named Dinty

Room at the Inn: Historic Hotels of British Columbia’s Southern Interior by Glen A. Mofford Victoria: Heritage House Publishing, 2023 $26.95  / 9781772034233 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh * Remember staying at that cozy little hotel on your honeymoon, that summer vacation spot by the lake or that mountain resort? Well, now you can vicariously enjoy…
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1813 Welcome Trevor and Brett

Welcome Trevor and Brett by Richard Mackie * On behalf of the Board of the Ormsby Literary Society and our Advisory Board I’d like to welcome Trevor Marc Hughes and Brett Josef Grubisic as interim editors of The British Columbia Review for the year May 1, 2023 to May 1, 2024. The position was made possible…
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1790 Thom’s modernist masterpieces

Ron Thom, Architect: The Life of a Creative Modernist by Adele Weder Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2022 $37.95 / 9781771643221 Reviewed by Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe * Ron Thom, reflecting in the early 1980s on his work as a creator of living and lived-in spaces averred, “any form of design or expression is locked in time. Whether it…
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1761 Pacific highways and byways

Incredible Crossings: The History and Art of the Bridges, Tunnels and Inland Ferries that Connect British Columbia by Derek Hayes Madeira Park: Harbour Publishing, 2022 $46.95 / 9781550179903 Reviewed by Ron Verzuh  * Pacific Highways and Byways: Travelling Through BC History by Boat, Train, Road or Armchair Pick a road, any road. Chances are you’ll…
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1757 Announcing interview series

Announcing the BC Review interview series by Richard Mackie * In November 2022, at the most recent board meeting of the Ormsby Literary Society, the chair, Byron Sheardown, suggested that we open a YouTube channel and start an interview series. Board member Trevor Marc Hughes jumped at the suggestion. “I’ve got filmmaking experience,” he said,…
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1737 The sky’s the limit

Why Humans Build Up: The Rise of Towers, Temples and Skyscrapers by Gregor Craigie, illustrated by Kathleen Fu Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2022 $29.95  /  9781459821880 Reviewed by Ginny Ratsoy * Was the Tower of Jericho built as a defensive watchtower or a mechanism to help farmers calculate the summer solstice? What are the advantages…
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1705 Scandal of the century

Deadly Triangle: The Famous Architect, His Wife, Their Chauffeur, and Murder Most Foul by Susan Goldenberg Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2022 $23.99 / 9781459750302 Reviewed by Valerie Green * Anyone who lives in British Columbia’s capital city or has visited the beautiful city of Victoria and admired the Parliament buildings and the world-famous Empress Hotel in…
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1656 On the road with Liz Bryan

Two books reviewed by Ken Favrholdt: Adventure Roads of BC’s Northwest Heartland by Liz Bryan Victoria: Heritage House, 2022 $24.95 / 9781772034035 * Pioneer Churches along the Gold Rush Trail: An Explorer’s Guide by Liz Bryan Victoria: Heritage House, 2022 $24.95 / 9781772034011 * Liz Bryan, photographer and popular writer, has published two books this…
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1594 The celebrated camera obscura

Art, Research, Play: The Midnight Sun Camera Obscura Project by Donald Lawrence, Josephine Mills, and Emily Dundas Oke (editors), foreword by W.F. (Will) Garrett-Petts Lethbridge: University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2021 $39.95 / 9781927770115 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve  * “This is a book that arrests attention but won’t stand still.” Thanks to W.F. Garrett-Petts for this assertion…
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1586 Touching down in the past

305 Lost Buildings of Canada by Raymond Biesinger & Alex Bozikovic Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 2022 $22.95 /  9781773102368 Reviewed by Martin Segger * What do we do about dead buildings? In our own time do they just sort of fade in community memory, like the guy in the office several cubicles down the hall…
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1529 Enter the Native Daughters

Hastings Mill: The Historic Times of a Vancouver Community by Lisa Anne Smith Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2021 $24.95 / 9781553806417 Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve * The history of Vancouver differs from that of Canada’s other major cities. It’s as though she jumped a couple of centuries to land at last on this side of the…
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1481 Save Swiss Edelweiss Village

ESSAY: Swiss Edelweiss Village: to be or not to be? by Ron Dart * Swiss guides were front and centre in the origins and development of mountaineering and mountain culture in Western Canada. The fact that much of their work was divided between Lake Louise and Rogers Pass meant that Golden, BC, became their place…
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1429 A fine Edwardian melodrama

Hampton Court: A History by Allen Specht Victoria: Privately Published, 2021 $15.00  /  9781778350450 Available at Books & Shenanigans (347 Cook Street) and Ivy’s Bookshop on Oak Bay Avenue, Victoria, or by contacting the author at <> Reviewed by Martin Segger * The domestic arrangements that distinguish a ménage à trois from a ménage à deux…
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