The final volume of Laurie Carter’s groundbreaking trilogy, Emily Carr’s B.C., presents the culmination of a journey far beyond anything Carter ever imagined when she set out to explore the landscapes, historical environment, and First Nations traditions that shaped an icon.
“Emily Carr led me on a merry chase around the province she loved,” said Carter, in a news release. “I logged thousands of kilometres over four summers in my little red car, often a lot more comfortably than Emily. Take my trip on the trail of her 1904 visit to the Cariboo. Happy Tot whisked me from Ashcroft to 150 Mile House in a couple of hours; Emily had to endure two dusty, bumpy days on a BX stagecoach. But that was the extreme. Through most of this book, she was travelling by train.”
Carter will be speaking about the book and Carr’s experiences at Glacier National Park at the Revelstoke Library on Sept. 26 at noon.
Book Three: South Coast to the Interior spans Carr’s life from her return from studies in England in 1904 to her final expedition up what we now know as the Sea to Sky route to Lillooet in 1933. It includes stops in the Shuswap, Selkirk and Purcell mountains; forays to the Okanagan Valley, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Canyon, and Cariboo region; along with the years Carr lived, worked, and exhibited in Vancouver.
“These travels produced a boggling variety of experiences,” said Carter. “Sometimes Emily was doing purely touristy stuff like drinking ‘prehistoric fluid’ in a glacial ice cave. Another time the hotel room ceiling fell on her head. Not surprisingly, given her legendary love of animals, creatures often played a prominent role. On one excursion, she acquired a baby vulture, on another she asked a policeman to shoot her dog.”
As with the previous books in the series — Vancouver Island and Northern B.C. and Haida Gwaii — Indigenous people and culture feature large. From Carr’s friendship with the Salish woman Sophie Frank to her encounters among various First Nations of the Interior, everything provided raw material for her art and writing.
“Tracking down the origins of some of these stories, the locations of certain paintings, and nailing down a couple of elusive historical facts was an exciting part of researching South Coast to the Interior,” said Carter.
“From that perspective, this was the most personally rewarding of the three books. My biggest Eureka moment was discovering the actual dates of Emily’s visit to the Okanagan Valley, something that particularly interested me because it was my home at the time. Other little mysteries, like the location of her story ‘Century Time’ kept me digging. The results aren’t necessarily definitive, but I feel that I’ve added something to the conversation. Probably most important of all, I’ve continued to find reasons to regard Emily Carr as an inspirational role model for our times.”