Herb Daum's Review of the Book "Cassiar: A Jewel in the Wilderness" by Dr. Suzanne LeBlanc
I am very impressed with the great job Suzanne has done. I started reading it the day I received it in the mail. Actually I had a busy day and other than a quick initial skim through it right away, I only started reading in earnest at bedtime, expecting I'd read for a my usual 20 minutes or so before calling it a day. I couldn't stop reading, one interesting page led to another, and despite being quite tired, I discovered several hours later that it was 3 am and I was already half way through the book! I stopped then. Fortunately the next day was less busy, it being November 11, the Remembrance Day statutory holiday (rather fitting I when I think about it) and I finished the book that afternoon.
Suzanne's tale of Cassiar is comprehensive and examines the Stikine region, discusses company towns in general and Cassiar in particular. The book covers the discovery of the asbestos ore body and subsequent development of the mine and then the town. The Clinton Creek mine is covered too of course. Throughout the book are many supporting quotes or anecdotes from Cassiarites - and others. Some photos are in the book too, many contributed by Cassiarites. Topics covered include life in town, company-worker relations, social problems, health hazards and then the financial troubles that beset Cassiar. Suzanne has done an extraordinary job with the documentation of the many factors that contributed to the closure of the mine. To try and untangle the many threads of government, company, parent company, union executive, union members at large and townspeople must have been a very daunting and complex task.
I have learned much history of the pre-Cassiar times that I was, at best, only mildly informed of before. For example while I may have visited or fished at areas like Laketon or McDame Post or Telegraph Creek I didn't know their history. Suzanne has so nicely researched and collected the various bits of history of the and then tied it together so it now makes sense, and more importantly, you and I can relate to it. You'll have to remember that while I was alive in those early days of Cassiar, initially my interests didn't extend far beyond receiving my next breast feeding or diaper change - my awareness of the world beyond that was limited. As I grew older and my interests expanded there were no ready sources of local historical information, they not being published, or I didn't cross paths with locals who might have imparted such knowledge.
While I came across a couple of very minor errors (most readers won't even notice) they are in the overall scheme of things relatively unimportant. Writing a book of this complexity is challenging and making it 100% accurate is virtually impossible. It is very easy to forgive any such errors you may find, especially when you take into account that Suzanne never lived in Cassiar herself and didn't have the benefit of first-hand knowledge of the town or its residents.
I must thank Suzanne for investing what must have been an immense amount of time and effort to research literature, conduct the many interviews, examine the thousands of boxes in the archives at U.N.B.C., etc., sort out what was useful (and what wasn't), and somehow arrange it in an orderly fashion and then put it all together so it makes sense. After all that had been accomplished she then had to find a publisher to actually publish the book and she had to assume the significant financial risk of the publishing costs too. Suzanne is now so familiar with Cassiar and many of Cassiarites I consider her a honorary Cassiarite - and I hope you do too.
In conclusion I heartily endorse this book. I recommend that anyone who has any attachment whatsoever to Cassiar to get the book. I believe that not only will you find this book interesting and even exciting, this is a book for you to leave to your children as part of their heritage. Someday they will want to know about the town you lived in. If your children were born there buy them each one - for their heritage. You should consider contacting your Cassiar friends and other family members (ie. your parents), who are not online. Please make them aware of the book and how to get it. No doubt they will thank you for it. To the best of my knowlege there exists no other book that even comes close to telling the story of Cassiar, from beginning to end. This book does tell the story - get it!
Please note the book does not include anecdotes of various Cassiar townspeople. It is a history of Cassiar. It is not a history of its former residents.
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