Sunday, June 30, 2013

A day of Tears

Really!
I have been trying to set up a new WordPress site with a Home page or website attached -- fine, that was eventually done.
Next, design the site and set up widgets, so that people who come to the site can go to my author page or follow my Twitter feed. Not so easy.
I have spent the last two hours more or less in tears, and have now quit my WordPress attempt, for today anyway.
For a while both my Twitter and Hootsuite feeds were objecting to what I was posting, too, which put me into another round of tears. (I finally solved that issue!)
So that means I haven't done a blog post here.
I might not.

So I am looking at my ten hours of frustration and wondering what I can post, that will make my day better.
Today I stumbled on my book review in the academic magazine, B.C. Studies, that makes me feel quite proud.
Here it is:

The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West, by Nancy Marguerite Anderson
Reviewed by Ken Brealey

"Alexander Caulfield Anderson was born to British parents on a plantation in India in 1814, raised and schooled in England, and in 1831 arrived in Lachine, Lower Canada, where he was promptly hired on as a servant in the Hudson's Bay Company.
"The following year he was on the northwest coast, and for the next fifty years, worked or served variously as explorer, fur trader, trailblazer, cartographer, customs agent, businessman, farmer, amateur historian, Indian Reserve Commissioner, and fisheries inspector -- this latter a position he held until two years before his death in 1884.
"Geographically, and during the period, Anderson negotiated the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department -- an expansive territory that reached from the Columbia River in the south, to the Peace River in the north, up the archipelago from Vancouver Island to Bella Coola in the west, and to the Rocky Mountains in the east.

"Indeed, there are few landmark studies of the historical and/or geographical evolution of British Columbia that do not, at some point, mention Anderson or elements of his work, but Nancy Anderson, Alexander's great granddaughter, is the first to have devoted a separate work to his life and in so doing [has] given us a more complete picture of both the man and his legacy, and the rapidly changing cross-cultural world in which he lived.
"Part biography, part historical geography, and several [ten] years in the making, the book is clearly a labour of love on the author's part, and written in the easy accessible style of popular historical authorship.
"There are thirty chapters telescoped into about 200 pages of text, but the author weaves them together nicely preserving the fluidity of the text while capturing the episodic character of Anderson's life.
"It is well illustrated, mostly with selected black and white historical photographs and sketches, but also eight full colour plates showing thematic cartographic summaries of Anderson's travels as trader and trailblazer between 1833 and 1848, reproductions of some of Anderson's own field sketches, and portions of some of the fourteen maps of the cordillera that Anderson is known to have made between the late 1840s and through to the 1870s.
"The book is well researched, the author having thoroughly mined the usual sources of the Hudson's Bay Company and British Columbia Archives, but also locating and incorporating primary materials culled from public archives in Scotland and eastern Canada and private and family collections as far away as India, Australia, and Japan.
"The text is nicely sprinkled with quotes from Anderson's own journals and letters, and thoroughly indexed.

"I have only two criticisms, both minor.
"The first is that while it is inevitably a consequence of this style of writing, it is mainly only direct quotes that are footnoted.
"The numerous other references are grouped separately in a bibliography, but not differentiated by page, the result being long sections in which factual claims from multiple sources are not directly sourced.
"This surely helps readability, but more consistent footnoting would help take readers more directly to the original sources.
"The second is that the author might have made a little more of Anderson's cartographic oeuvre.
"She is right to highlight the importance of Anderson's 1867 masterpiece, Map of a Portion of the Colony of British Columbia, as well as maps of his surveys of 1846 and 1848 and those in Peace River [Fort St. James, actually] country in the 1830s, but other important maps, such as his 1858 Map showing the different Routes of Communication with the Gold Region of Fraser's River, could have been included, especially as many of the features on some of them are referenced in the text.

"Overall, however, Nancy Anderson has provided a much needed, long overdue and highly enjoyable account of one of the more important nineteenth century historical geographical agents on the northwest coast.
"The author shows that like many fur traders, Anderson loved the spirit of adventure that drove his exploratory, trailblazing and mapmaking activities, even as he was less enamoured with the business and practical exigencies of the trade itself.
"As the northwest coast transitioned from a fur trade frontier into a place of commercial capital and settlement he shared with his contemporaries the promises of civilization, but his respect for Indigenous peoples was not common to most, and one of the reasons he was chosen as the federal representative on the Joint Indian Reserve Commission in 1876.
"Indeed, it is in this sense that Anderson not only "found his path" across time and through space, but from a political economy perspective participated in Indigenous, mercantile, commercial, and industrial capitalistic modes of production, and at the end was one of the agents who helped sediment them all together.
"I am grateful that his great-granddaughter has finally told a story that long needed telling."

Thank you, Ken Brealey, and B.C. Studies, for your wonderful review, now published I believe.
We would have laughed had you known how loudly my line-editor complained about editing the massive number of endnotes in my book!
And the colour maps: My publisher never publishes books with coloured maps like that, but they included them because they were so beautiful.

As I said in my first speech when I introduced the book, "Alexander Caulfield Anderson was my great grandfather, and I wanted to know who he was...
"As I wrote the book, I learned things that threatened to destroy the historic and heroic fur trade figure that lived inside my head.
"There were many occasions when I flinched -- but those flinches transformed Anderson into a man, with quirks and flaws and character and kindness and a poetic courtesy -- an extraordinary human being."

I wrote this book to tell his story, so that he would not be forgotten.
It was personal.
But I still have lots to say about the man.
Whatever I put in this book was based on passion; whatever I write about Anderson in the future will be history.
Because I know who he is, and now, so do you.

If you want to purchase a copy of my book, The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West, you will find it on my Amazon Author Page, at Nancy Marguerite Anderson

Thank you.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Alexander Caulfield Anderson, writer


From the Introduction to A. C. Anderson's Autobiography: 
This might have been written on his deathbed, and writing this might have kept Anderson from thinking of his impending death.

"Two hundred years ago, some ten years after the Restoration of the Second Charles, when England enjoyed a somewhat troubled repose after the agonies of the Civil War; when the nations of the New World were in their non-age; when Commerce was pausing for the gigantic strides which it has since taken; that "merrie monarch" (may we never be afflicted with another of similar stamp!) took at least one useful step. He granted a charter to certain magnates of the land and others, worthy citizens of the good city of London, endowing them with exclusive privileges to prosecute a new branch of traffic in the remote regions of the north, under the style and title of the "Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" (in more familiar parlance the Hudson's Bay Company). 

"Fortified by their charter, and with abundant capital at command, this Company for many years carried on unobtrusively a very lucrative commerce. It of of comparatively late years only, under the combination of many outer influences, that its affairs have attracted much public attention; attaining at length to what has become to many a question of absorbing interest in a national point of view. Reft of its almost princely domination, with its territory purchased for a price and thrown open for the spread of a civilized community, the Company, if it still continues its business as a body, will do so only on the footing of any other co-partnership. Its glory, as the last representative of the great chartered bodies of England, will have departed. Such is the order of things, and such -- while admitted all praise and honor for the past -- is the desirable culmination.

"To the departing shade of the Company, with whose interest the events of my own life have been so intimately bound up, I desire to pay a valedictory tribute. I purpose to recount some of my own experiences during a long and uninterrupted sojourn in the wildness of the North West and its immediate frontiers, to show some of the causes that have conduced to the uninterrupted success of the Company in its dealing with the native tribes; perhaps, by implication, to correct many of the misconceptions that may have arisen in regard to the policy pursued, and some of the slanders to which that policy has, at times, been mischievously subjected. 

"With this general purpose in view I write without premeditation. Incidentally, I may introduce remarks necessary to the due apprehension of the relations existing between the Company and the Acting partners in the Fur Trade of the Country. Many of my past colleagues may be spoken of, and in a personal narrative such as I contemplate my own individuality will appear; but whether in speaking of myself or others, I trust to do so with proper judgement, in the one case without egotism, and the other with candour and good fellowship."

Sadly, he never lived long enough to complete his Autobiography.

Nancy Marguerite Anderson, author of The Pathfinder: A. C. Anderson's Journeys in the West [Victoria: Heritage House Pub., 2011]
Author Page at: https://www.amazon.com/author/nancymargueriteanderson or Amazon Author Page
Twitter handle: @Marguerite_HBC
Thank you. 



Saturday, June 22, 2013

A.C. Anderson's Letter to Royal Botanic Gardens, at Kew


Years ago I learned that Alexander Caulfield Anderson had written a letter to Kew Gardens.
I emailed them for more information, and Claire Daniel (who was an Archives Graduate Trainee in 2003) sent me a letter that included a copy of A.C. Anderson's letter.
Talk about being floored!
It is easy to be ignored by an archives, especially one of this size and importance.
But they did anything but ignore me.
Thank you, Kew Gardens, and Claire Daniel.

Many fur traders communicated with Sir William Jackson Hooker of Kew Gardens over the years, and the man who referred A.C. Anderson to Hooker, as a correspondent and plant collector, was Fort Colvile's Archibald McDonald.
From Jean Murray Cole's book, "This Blessed Wilderness," we have McDonald's letter of reference, written 20th April 1844:
"Until this moment I was rather angry that my letter & small package of last year was too late at the mouth of the river for the Cape Horne vessel of the season. By that communication it could not be inferred that I was myself speedily quitting the Columbia, but I fear the state of my health now will oblige me to rise camp and once more recross the R[ocky] Mountains. I have however succeeded in constituting in my stead a very good correspondent, Mr. Alexander Anderson of New Caledonia. By a letter I lately had from this Gentleman he seemed delicate about intruding himself upon your notice, Sir, until he had heard from you, scruples I soon removed, directing him by all means to write forthwith with the very first collection he could make himself, or get in from the young Gentlemen whom I commissioned myself."

So Anderson overcame his scruples: Here is his letter, written from Fort Alexandria, 30th September 1845, to Sir William Hooker:
"Sir; At the suggestion of our mutual friend Archibald McDonald, Esquire, I have during the past summer been engaged in collecting some seeds and botanical specimens with the view of forwarding them to you.
"The collection, unsatisfactory as I fear it may prove, is accordingly now sent, and will, I trust, reach you in safety.
"The package is well secured; and will be shipped at Vancouver under the care of my friend, Dr. Barclay, there.

"For the poverty of my collection let me plead that circumstances have in some measure interfere with my own endeavours, while I have been sadly disappointed in the assistance which I had expected from divers quarters.
"Forty-six varieties of seeds are however sent......

"Our New Caledonia fields have already, I believe, yielded their humble treasures very [fully] to poor David Douglas, who, if my memory fail me not, visited them in 1833, when I was stationed elsewhere.
"Thus I cannot hope that my little collection will possess much novelty to you.
"The Tza-chin or edible Bitter Root of New Caledonia (which by the way appears to me to be nearly identical with the Tiger-lily of our gardens) might perhaps be entitled to some little notice as a bonne-bouche if cultivated in England.
"The mode of preparing it is either in small subterranean kilns, or by steaming until soft and mealy.
"It is easily raised from the seed, of which I have sent a supply; there are also some bulbs, but I fear their germinating principle will be destroyed before they reach their destination.
"A deep, light, black soil, similar to the bog earth used in gardens, is what it delights in; and it thrives best in humid situations.....

"The Broue (Fr), or Froth-Berry -- seeds of which are sent -- is a fruit having some peculiar properties, and meriting notice for the agreeable bitter which it possess.
"No-ghoos is the name by which the natives distinguish it.
"It is with them an article of luxurious entertainment at their occasional banquets.
"The mode of using it, after it is prepared by boiling and drying in cakes, is by soaking a small piece in a little water, and afterwards whisking the mixture until it froths up.
"By this means a large vessel will after a while [be] filled with a viscid froth of considerable tenacity.
"This product when free from the detestable accompaniment of grass with which the natives frequently incorporate the berries for the convenience of drying, is nowise unpalatable.
"Of this substance I have sent you a cake, as prepared by the natives, by way of specimen.
"There is likewise a small bag containing the dried roots of the Spet-lum.
"Some of these last which have [not] been entirely desiccated in the process of drying might possibly germinate if planted; as from the nature of the plant I should imagine the most to be rather tenacious of life.

"As my acquaintance with Botany is extremely limited, I have avoided on all costs the endeavour to apply names at random, which could add no possible value to my collection of seeds or flowers.
"Thus they are undistinguished by name or reference, save where necessity has constrained me to be more particular.
"I trust, however, my collection may prove acceptable and shall content myself with hoping that a future day I may be enabled to forward a contribution more worthy of your acceptance.
"I have the honor to be, sir
"Your most obedient & humble servant,
"Alex C. Anderson."

I have already written about Indian Potatoes and other Native Foods, on Sunday, October 2, 2011.
From that page, I take these descriptions, and please note that they come from Nancy J. Turner's book, "Food Plants of Interior First Peoples," published by the Royal British Columbia Museum.

This is what she says of the bulb Anderson thought resembled the English Tiger Lily:
"Tiger Lily is a tall perennial with a white ovoid bulb, up to 5 cm in diameter, composed of thick fleshy scales like garlic cloves.
"The stem is slender, the flowers are bright orange, dark spotted near the centre.
"The Natives used the large bulbs of the Tiger Lily wherever they could find them.
"The flavour of the bulb was strong, peppery and bitter, and they were used like pepper or garlic to flavour foods.
"The Tsilhquot'in [Chilcotin] called the bulb 'beaver-stick,' and harvested the bulbs in the early spring; the Okanagan and other southern Natives harvest them in the fall."

This following is, perhaps, the identification of the plant that Anderson called the "Spet-lum."
The bitter-root "is a low stemless perennial arising from a branching deep-seated fleshy taproot, which is grey-skinned with a white inner core that may turn pink on exposure to the air.
"The plant grows in the driest areas of the B.C. Interior, and is now considered rare.
"But to the Okanagan and the Thompson River Natives, this plant was the most important of all the edible roots."
However, it does not grow in the Chilcotin district, and might not be the plant that Anderson knew.

However, I can go to Anderson's own writing for a description of these plants and the others mentioned in this letter.
Here is how he describes the "Froth Berry," mentioned above:
The "Froth-Berry" is the Cornus Ferruginia or Shepherdia Canadensis (La Broue of the [French-] Canadians) is described in his unpublished essay, "British Columbia," in this manner: "The Berry is dried for winter use. In its fresh or prepared state it is thus used: A small portion is placed in a large vessel, and a little water added. Then being whisked with branches it gradually expands and becomes converted into a very palatable substance resembling Trifle."
[Sounds good: Today they call this Indian Ice-Cream!]

Anderson's son, James Robert, gave a better description of the Froth Berry in his book, Trees and Shrubs, Food, Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of British Columbia:
"Soapberry: Brue [Shepherdia canadensis, Nutt]
"This is one of the two representatives of the natural order Elaeagnaceae (which is allied to the Olive family) in this Province. It is a shrub from 3 to 10 feet high. The leaves, from 1 to 2 inches long and half as wide, pointed and quite smooth on the edges and of a dull-green colour, are covered on the under-sides, in common with the young branches or twigs, with shiny reddish specks, giving them a distinctly rusty-red appearance when viewed from underneath.
"The flowers appear very early in the spring, before the leaves, and are of a dull-red colour, very small, and borne in clusters, usually two clusters at the end of a short stem, divided by a small leaflet or bract and with two leaves at the extremity. The buds form in the summer previous and may be seen at any time in the shape of small reddish globules. The fruit is usually red, sometimes orange in colour, resembling a red currant in size, but more elongated. This peculiarity renders it objectionable to some, but very agreeable to many. The juice, when beaten up, forms a beautiful salmon-coloured froth, which when mixed with sugar is greatly esteemed by the natives, and by whites who have acquired a taste for it. It is from this peculiarity that it obtains the name of Soapberry or Soap Oalalie, in the Chinook jargon. The range of this shrub is very wide, inasmuch as it is to be found in all parts of the Province where suitable conditions exist. Its habitat is the hilly and mountainous parts of the Province, usually in rather open situations, and on dry soil. It is common in the vicinity of Victoria and on the Saanich Arm, and very abundant in the Rocky Mountains."

Nancy J. Turner also identifies this plant as the Soapberry, and gives it the Latin name of Sheperdia canadensis [Nutt.] It is of the Oleaster Family, and might also be called the Russet Buffalo Berry or Foamberry.

Here's what James Robert Anderson says about the Tiger Lily, from the same source as before mentioned:
Tiger-Lily (Lilium columbianum, Hanson)
"The bulb is used in its fresh state and is cooked by boiling. It is slightly bitter and quite glutinous... Then James quotes from his father's manuscript:
"The Tiger-Lily is found abundantly in the fertile bottoms and extends considerably to the north of Alexandria on the upper Fraser. Under the name of Tza-chin the natives of the latter place use the root as an article of food. Carefully steamed it is an excellent substitute for the potato, its flavour somewhat like that of a roasted chestnut, with a slight bitterness which renders it very agreeable."

Here is what James Robert Anderson has to say of the Spet-lum mentioned in A.C. Anderson's letter. It is also called the Bitter-Root.
Bitter-Root; Spetlum; Sand-Hill Rose (Lewisia rediviva,  Pursh)
"This plant, belonging to the Portulaca family, has its habitat in the arid regions of the Interior in open plains. The thick leaves, some 2 inches in length and shaped like those of Portulaca, come up in bunches in the early spring and are followed later on, when the leaves die down, by the flower, which is a beautiful pink blossom resembling a rose. In places they appear in great profusion and present a lovely sight. The Bitter Root Valley (in Montana, I believe) is named after this plant. When the leaves appear, the women dig up the roots, which are thick and generally bifurcated, with the digging-sticks ..., and after stripping off the skin throw them into a basket. They are then dried and kept for future use. They may be eaten in that state or boiled into a pinkish jelly. As its name indicates, it has a bitter taste, somewhat aromatic, and is, I believe, quite nutritious; personally, I never cared much for it, although it is generally much appreciated. It is well named L. rediviva, as it is most tenacious of life, and I have known herbarium specimens to show flowers developing months after having been pressed."

As you can see, these fur traders kept active, and like others of their time they learned about the plants and flowers that surrounded them.
Many collected botanical specimens for Dr. Hooker, of Kew Gardens.
We Andersons, of course, went one step further: my cousin, a direct descendant of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, married a woman who was the direct descendant of Sir William Jackson Hooker, of Kew Gardens.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

An Open Letter to new Authors


Two thing have occurred recently, which encourage me to write this open letter to new authors.
It is a letter that I hope some publishing houses might also find useful.
For my Twitter followers, and for others who follow this blog, I would love to hear from you what your publishing house does, that is amazing for you as one of their authors.
The more information we all share, the more we will know as we venture into this new career.

Firstly, I recently made friends with a newly-published author and encouraged her to get onto Twitter to promote her book.
Her response was this: "I am wary of Twitter and the issues of privacy, but mainly it is a matter of time.... I do appreciate, though, that it would be a great promotion."
Well, yes -- and I know what my Twitter followers are saying right now....

I next advised this new author to set up Author pages, and I gave her a list of sites to do this on. I know from her silence that she did not know to do this.
Why did her publisher's marketing department NOT advise her to do this.
Well, in my experience: they don't.

In every letter the owner of my publishing house sends out with the cheques, he exhorts his authors to do two things:
Firstly: to "adapt t online marketing techniques," and
Secondly: "to work with our promotions and public relations staff."
I presume the owner of the company feels that many of his authors are not taking part in social media to help sell their books, and if so, that would be the truth.
I find very few of my publisher's authors on Twitter, though I have looked for them.

So why are my publisher's authors not on Twitter, and why have they not set up their Author pages?
It is important for the authors to know that it is much harder to play catch-up on your social marketing, than do it right in the first place.
I will admit, too, that I am one of the authors who no longer communicates with the marketing department.
I know why I have not communicated with the marketer since that time: but why did the marketer not talk to me in the six months since mid-January?

This post will address both of these issues, and I have plenty to say.
I come from a small-business and marketing/sales background, from a competitive food-service business that had to market itself to get and hold its customers.
But this business existed before the internet was an important part of promotion, so while I am familiar with what they then called "guerilla marketing," I had no awareness of any sort of new marketing on the internet.
I also trusted that my publishing house would act in my interest and give me the information I needed to have.
It did not.

Those of you who read my book know that I obtained information from some pretty obscure sources, so I am able to research. In fact, my ability to research is one of my strengths.
But when it came to marketing my book, I did not know what questions to ask.
And if the author does not know the question to ask, then he cannot do the research required to find the answers.
I am an expert in my field -- the mid-fur trade in British Columbia -- and my publisher is the expert in his field: publishing and marketing of books.
He does not know what I know, and I do not know what he knows.
Therefore, the relationship between the publisher and the author should be symbiotic, with information shared both ways.
It was not.

So I will combine what I know of old fashioned marketing learned in my small business years, with what I have learned in the year and a half since my book was published in November, 2011.

This is what I suggest that every publisher's Marketing Department should do, 
to inform their authors what is expected of them:

As soon as every new author is signed and has submitted their marketing information, have the marketer read it through:
Do not depend on new authors to already "know" what they need to know, or you will be disappointed.
Ensure that the marketers notice, and address, any deficiencies: make it part of their job description.
Have the marketing department research and collect any information they can find about various book prizes,  blog sites and social media, and ensure that the marketer shares that information with their authors, new and old.

As a publisher, why are you doing this:
Because the more your author knows, the better the publishing house will do.

As soon as every new author is signedsend the author a marketing package that tells them what they need to do immediately:

Tell them exactly what the marketing department will do for them.
Advise your authors to do the following:

If not already on Twitter or Google+, get on these social media sites and start talking to people.
Explain to your new author clearly that this is an important part of marketing the book, and that you expect them to be on Twitter, Google+, or some other media marketing site that will work for them.
Explain to them why it is an important part of the marketing plan, and ensure they understand how important it is.
Explain to them that they should get on these sites months before the book is published, so they can create some excitement and encourage sales.
Be ready to explain a simple way for your author to get started on these sites, and you can do that by setting an example, see below:
Connect your own Twitter site to each of your authors Twitter feed: support your authors by following them, and have them follow you.
On a Twitter feed like this, all of your authors could advise others published by your house of things they have found that worked for them, and everyone (authors and publishers) are working together and constantly communicating with each other.

As a publisher, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

Have your author begin a blog or a professional Facebook page:
Explain the importance of this.
Be prepared to tell the author about the various blog sites: tell them which is better and be prepared to support your author by following.
Explain how the blog can be connected to other social media sites such as Twitter and Google+ -- it has in fact amazed me how being on Twitter has made some of the older posts in my blog relevant again.

As a publisher, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

More on blogs, from the publisher's point of view:
The publisher could even set up their own blog and so show, by example, what their author can do.
The marketing staff could experiment with all new social media sites that are coming online and could, in a simple blog post accessible to all of their authors, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of blog.
The publisher's blog can be private and password protected, and each author can be given access to the site as soon as their book is accepted for publication.
On this site you can also share information on getting on Twitter and learning how to use it; and setting up essential Author pages.
A password protected blog could easily serve as a marketing package if every author has access to it.
More experienced authors could even contribute to the blog, to help newer authors.

As a publisher, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

Have your author set up their Amazon author pages, and other author pages, about three months before the book is published:
The marketing arm of the publisher should be familiar with the more important sites and be able to advise their authors which will work best for this part of the world.
Don't presume that your new author knows about these authors pages. As I have said, if the author does not ask the question than they won't ever research the answer.
My feeling is that if the marketing department read the author's marketing information (a necessary part of the submission package), and he failed to notice that the author did not mention social media and author pages, then the publisher should not be surprised when the author's page is not set up.

I had a further issue: I asked my marketer for help, and he said he would find someone to help me.
No one ever contacted me to help, and the marketer himself never checked back with me.
I think I was forgotten. I know I was forgotten.

As a publisher, why are you changing this?
Because the better the author does, the better the publishing house does.

So, what other old-fashioned suggestions do I have for the publisher or its marketing department to keep in  touch with its authors?

Newsletters are very effective ways to disseminate information and to keep in touch with people with a common interest -- your authors.
I learned my entire family history through newsletters and sharing the information that the twelve people gave me, with the other eleven persons.
Do you think I went to London and researched in the India Office for very specific information on Alexander Caulfield Anderson's mother's Native of India background? No. My long-distance-cousin in England, who I have never met, did the research and willingly shared the information with all twelve of our family members.
She also visited Australian archives and downloaded all the information on Anderson's father.
Another family member obtained a newspaper article and Anderson's letter in response, written about 1850 or so -- from the Beinecke Room, Yale University Library, via his personal contacts.
All twelve or so people in my little group co-operated with me to dig up every piece of information that was available, and they did that because I shared whatever I learned from each of them, with all the others.
My book was written on the strength of that ten-year long odyssey of combined research shared with other family members, in internet newsletter sent around the world!
I can personally attest that simple newsletters are a powerful method of disseminating information to a group of people with shared interest.

As a publisher, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

The newsletter could inform authors of events they might attend where they could promote or sell their books.
The publisher's newsletter could share all book prize information and add to information the author submits in their marketing package. (For example, since I submitted information to my publisher, I have found two more local book prizes that I could easily have submitted my book to, that the marketer was apparently unaware of.)

As a publisher's marketer, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

So for new authors, here is a list of questions to ask the marketing department when your book is signed:
What should I do immediately, and will you help me with it?
What sites do you recommend I set up my author pages on (the marketer will actually have to know the sites), and when should I do that? If I need help in this, will you be able to help me?
I have given you a list of book prizes that I suggest submitting the book to: can you suggest any other organizations?
Do you have a marketing package, or a Twitter feed or Newsletter or Blog that will help me, as a new author, learn what I need to know?

As a publisher's marketer, why are you doing this?
Because the better your author does, the better your publishing house does.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Fur-traders' "Smess" -- Sumas Prairie


The map below is a small portion of Alexander Caulfield Anderson's 1867 map of British Columbia, CM/F9 in the British Columbia Archives.
The full 6ft x 6ft map (which you will never be able to see) covers all of British Columbia and includes part of the United States (Fort Colvile area) and Alberta (Edmonton House).
In this small section of the big map, I have shown the lower Fraser River between Fort Hope and the mouth of the river itself.
If you look at the map carefully, you will notice many interesting and historical facts: the route of the Collins Telegraph Trail is shown as it travels through the Fraser Valley north of the river.
You can see the bottom of Harrison Lake and the mouth of the Harrison River, where the Fort Langley fur traders had their most important fishery.
To the east is the Chilahayook [Chilliwack] River, where Anderson's Sto:lo guide, chief Pahallak, lived.
Finally, at the bottom of this portion of his map he drew in the route of "Lacey's Trail of 1858," which followed the Lummi River north to the goldfields on the lower Fraser River.
Today, this muddy trail is known as the Whatcom Trail, and its name is commemorated up and down the Fraser River valley.



As I drive up and down the Fraser Valley I often notice these old names.
But one road sign I often noticed was "Sumas," and I had no idea where its name came from.
Then, as I looked at the details of the Fraser River on A. C Anderson's 1867 map, I suddenly understood the origin of the name.
Take a look at the large lake in the middle of the map, and notice that the fur traders, and Natives, called this lake "Smess."
That is what Sumas used  to be.
It is no longer.

"Smess" is a fur trade name, learned from the Natives who lived on what used to be Sumas Lake.
The water was drained from this eleven-thousand-acre lake by the Provincial Government, ninety years ago, to create the place we now call "Sumas Prairie."
But before the Government drained the lake, the Sumas Natives made their homes along its shores.
When the mosquitoes came in the June or July, the people moved into their summer homes built on stilts in the middle of their lake.
They travelled everywhere in their canoes; they fished for sturgeon in the lake and hunted waterfowl.
"There were millions of ducks, geese," a Sumas elder named Ray Silver said.
"The fish would jump right into your canoe there was so many of them, jumping all the time."
Ray Silver did not know the lake, but heard these stories from his grand-father, who had lived while the lake still belonged to the Sumas people.
His grandfather aso told him of the sturgeon left behind when the lake was drained, and how they suffocated and died in the mud.

The Sumas people moved away from their emptied lake and now live elsewhere in their territory.
Farmers moved in and ploughed the rich land created by the drained lake, sometimes turning up fresh-water clams as they did so.
Now "Smess" is filled with valuable dairy farms and agricultural land that produces thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for market every year.
It's history has been drained away with the lake, and its original people have gone.
Even its name, Smess, was forgotten.

If you want to learn more about  what used to be Sumas Lake, the article I am getting the above information from appeared in the Vancouver Sun, April 26, 2013, and contains much more information than I am giving you here.

I don't know if Anderson was ever at Smess, but he paddled past the lake in his passages up and down the Fraser, many times.
He would also have obtained a map of sorts from his co-worker, Chief Trader James Murray Yale of Fort Langley, and so Anderson's map is probably fairly accurate in spite of the fact he was probably never there.
Smess was a place well known to the fur traders at Fort Langley, and there are a number of mentions of the place in fur trade records in the years after 1848.
James Douglas drove James Murray Yale crazy in those years, with his demands that Yale once again explore for a new trail that would bring the brigaders safely past the dangers of Manson's Mountain, on the Coquihalla Brigade Trail.
Poor Yale; he was so frustrated by Douglas' inability to envision the mountainous land that surrounded Fort Langley, that he complained to Governor Simpson that Douglas, who thought he was a fine geographer, was anything but.

For those of you who regularly read my posts and now expect me to write seven pages every week, you will be disappointed to find they are becoming shorter.
The reason for this: I am now beginning to write my second book and am still continuing the research on my third.
I have plenty of work to do, and so the blog posts must take up less time.
Do not lose hope: you will have plenty to read still.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Book Review: Shameless Self-Promotion.


Ken Favrholdt, executive Director and Curator at the Osoyoos & District Museum and Archives, was the man who reviewed my book for British Columbia History, publication of the British Columbia Historical Federation.
His review appeared in their Fall 2012 issue, and I now include it in this post so that you, too, can read it.

The Pathfinder: A. C. Anderson's Journeys in the West by Nancy Marguerite Anderson

"Alexander Caulfield Anderson was born 10 March 1814 near Calcutta, India, son of military officer Robert Anderson and Eliza Charlotte Simpson.
His family returned to England; there young Alexander received a good education before joining the Hudson's Bay Company in 1831.

"First posted at Lachine, Quebec, Anderson was sent west to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River in 1832.
He worked first on the Northwest Coast, then in New Caledonia -- as north-central BC was called -- at Fort Alexandria, the northern terminus of the fur brigade trail.

"Anderson was most closely associated with the exploration of trails used by the HBC, especially the all-Canadian route used by brigades after the border was settled along the 49th parallel in 1846.
In 1848, he was transferred to Fort Colvile until 1851, when he returned to Fort Vancouver.
Besides his journals of exploration, Anderson also wrote many articles on British Columbia as a civil servant and produced the first unofficial map of the whole of what is now BC in 1867, after he retired to Vancouver Island.
Anderson died 8 May 1884 at Saanich, near Victoria, B.C.

"Anderson is little known to most British Columbians despite his lengthy career and so this book by descendant Nancy Marguerite Anderson answers the call for a thorough biography.
Nancy Anderson followed her ancestor's footsteps through the Pacific Northwest and conducted archival research in the BC Archives and elsewhere to reconstruct his peregrinations.
Ms. Anderson compiled her great grandfather's life in a deft manner by incorporating excerpts from Anderson's writing in the thirty chapters forming vignettes of his life which are backed by many extraordinary details and many well-chosen illustrations.
Details of Anderson's maps highlight each chapter; as well, a few colour plates of his maps of beautifully reproduced.
The book is thoroughly footnoted with a selected biography.

"Nancy Anderson has filled a gap in the historiography of the fur trade of the Pacific Northwest and at the same time has created an entertaining read.
In a way, A. C. Anderson was not a fit for the fur trade.
He was a scholar whose writings, and especially his great map of the Colony, represent his greatest legacy.
In the words of Nancy Anderson:

Anderson always knew the work he did was important.
In spite of the fact that he often did not fit into the culture of the place he found himself in, Anderson's work -- first for the fur trade, then for the communities he lived in and finally for the Dominion government -- was aimed at improving the future of the people he lived among.

"This book, like the life of A.C. Anderson, is central to the history of the fur trade and of colonial British Columbia.
The Pathfinder is a must-read for the avid history buff, student and academic."

Thank you, Ken, for your fine review, and I appreciate it very much.

As I told you in a post a few weeks ago, I attended the British Columbia Historical Federation Conference, held at Kamloops in May 2013.
I came to attend the Brigade Trail talk that Ken put on at the Conference, and my sister came up with me to attend a few talks that interested her as well.
Her job was to sell my books, however, as I had made arrangements to do so at their Conference.
I thought it was the perfect spot to sell books at: I thought that at a conference for people interested in British Columbia history that I might find quite a few people interested in buying my book.
I also thought that Ken Favrholdt's excellent book review, published in the BC Historical Federation's own magazine six months earlier, might spark some interest in my book in some of those people so interested in history.

But no....
I sold books: to Kamloops residents who were invited to shop at the book sale; to parents of children that came to meet the Lieutenant Governor who was viewing their projects displayed in the book room; to other authors who were also selling their books in the book room.
But there were times when the book room was empty for hours at a time, and those were the hours that the book room was actually advertised to be "open."
All book sales were made at times when the book room was supposedly "closed" but we were encouraged to stay at our tables because the opening hours had been mistakenly listed in the local newspaper and they thought that people might shop.
They did, thank God, because the delegates certainly did not!

I knew a few of the delegates at the meetings, and I know none never entered the book room.
One older woman visibly shied away from the table: apparently she thought she might have to purchase a book.
A man talked to me about the book and Anderson's 1872 manuscript (which I think is his least interesting), and eventually told me he had already purchased a copy (great!)
We sold one book to someone who belonged to the Federation: a woman rushed up to my table saying "I'm Jean Wilson: I want to buy a copy of your book!"
I knew the name and thought she belonged to the Victoria Historical Society; as I told you on Twitter it took me nine days to figure out who Jean Wilson actually was.
She is the now-retired Editor of University of British Columbia Press: I talked to her five or more years ago when I submitted a still-unedited copy of my manuscript to UBC Press -- long before I even knew how to write the argument for manuscript submission.
Of course she rejected the submission, but she told me that she was looking forward to learning more about Alexander Caulfield Anderson.

Obviously, she was telling me the truth.
Her excitement was refreshing: for the most part there was little excitement at that Kamloops conference.
And little warmth: we paid to attend the Conference but no one welcomed us, and certainly none of the delegates came around to shake our hands and to say they hoped we would return.
Will we return?
I made some good contacts there, but they were certainly not the delegates!
Jay Sherwood arrived with his books and sat at the next table. He writes about early surveyors in British Columbia and some of those surveyor's early photographs are in my book.
The authors of a book about the Japanese people in Victoria were also at our table, and they began their book with the story of the Japanese shipwreck on the Washington coast in 1833.
Of course you know the full story is in my book (the fur trader part of it anyway), and more information has been posted on this blog.
We had a lot to talk about -- and to my surprise and delight, at the banquet that evening I discovered that they had won one of the major Book Prizes!
Ann-Lee and Gordon Switzer are authors of the book, Gateway to Promise: Canada's First Japanese Community, published by Ti-Jean Press, Victoria, B.C., in 2012:  ISBN978-1-896627-21-2.

The B.C. Historical Federation is "talking" about blogging; they are considering opening a Twitter account.
The Conferences are attracting fewer delegates every year, and they are trying to attract people of my age group.
But it my age group they are disappointing.
We are there, and they don't see us.

So the question was: will I ever return to the B.C. Historical Federation Conference?
I might. In two years the conference will be held at Quesnel, and that is new territory for my book sales.
Not only that, but the person who is putting on the conference is hearing all our shared concerns and taking them into account -- I think it might be a much improved conference.
Quesnel will be concentrating on the gold rush, of course, and by that time I will know quite a good deal about the early gold rush in the days before the miners even heard about the Fraser River mines in 1858!
If things work out (and I hope they do), you might see me there!