The Parksville Qualicum Beach area features prominently in a new book about a couple’s travels around Vancouver Island.
Bill Arnott planned to spend five weeks on an exploratory vacation, but ended up spending three months adventuring around the Island in order to write his new travel memoir, A Season on Vancouver Island.
“In my mind, travel can always occur right in your home, right in your backyard,” said Arnott, who lives in Vancouver. “You don’t have to get on a plane to experience things with a fresh eye and to savour all the natural beauty that we have around us and especially here on the Island.”
Arnott and his wife, Deb, spent time in familiar spots Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Englishman River Falls, Rathtrevor Beach, Little Qualicum Falls and Spider Lake.
They also experienced the Horne Lake Caves for the first time.
“It did test a little bit of my personal comfort and claustrophobia,” he said with a chuckle.
The two had numerous wildlife encounters, including bald eagles, seals, otters and a special experience with a family of barred owls while staying in the Qualicum Beach Heritage Forest. They were delighted to spot a mama owl feeding and looking after two owlets in the daylight.
“It felt rather spiritual and like we were genuinely connected with nature there,” Arnott said. “One morning the mama owl was on the roof of our vehicle. It gave her a little better vantage point I suppose and we knew we didn’t have to worry about any mice or anything. She was keeping the area clean and the babies were clearly being well-fed.”
Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands have always been a special place for Arnott and his wife, who spend a good chunk of each year here, especially the mid-Island region.
His said the book incorporates history with humour and some mild adventure.
“We can’t stress enough the depth and breadth of Indigenous culture and history that we are privileged to share on the land where so many of us also call our home.”
Other historical tidbits include the name given to Englishman River by Spanish explorers in the late 18th century, ‘Rio de Grullas’, or ‘River of Cranes’. He said the Spaniards likely mistook great blue herons for a species they were familiar with in Europe.
The idea for the book came about last year when Arnott was talking with his publisher at Rocky Mountain Books, who suggested it would be a good idea for him to write about some travels a little closer to home.
Arnott has travelled the world to write books such as the Gone Viking: a Travel Saga series, which traces the footsteps of Vikings explorers around Scandinavia and beyond.
He plans to release a third installment of the Gone Viking series next fall. It will explore some interesting links between the Vikings and what people over the years have labeled the Holy Grail.
A Season on Vancouver Island releases Sept. 27.