BALLANTYNE, Robert Michael




Author Tags: Early B.C., Gold, Transient

Dubbed him "Ballantyne the Brave" by Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Ballantyne edited a 116-page Handbook to the New Gold Fields: A Full Account of the Richness and Extent of the Fraser River and Thompson River Gold Mines as a guide for newcomers, including information on routes and inhabitants.

He lived from 1825 to 1894, mainly in Edinburgh, where he was born. He died incongruously in Rome. At age 16 he sailed to Hudson's Bay to work for the Hudson's Bay Company as a clerk. His six years of employment at various posts led him to write Hudson's Bay; or Everyday Life in the Wilds of North America (1848). He mostly wrote novels for schoolboys about untamed life around the globe. Some of his approximately 80 stories include Snowflakes and Sunbeams; or, The Young Fur Traders (1856); The Coral Island (1858); Ungava: The Tale of the Esquimaux Land (1858); The Wild Man of the West: A Tale of the Rocky Mountains (1863); Away in the Wilderness; or, Life Among the Red Indians and Fur Traders of North America (1869); The Pioneer: A Tale of the Western Wilderness Illustrative of the Adventures of Sir Alexander Mackenzie (1872); The Red Man's Revenge: A Tale of the Red River Flood (1880); The Buffalo Runners: A Tale of the Red River (1891); Martin Rattler; or, A Boy's Adventures in the Forests of Brazil (London 1858) and The Giant of the North (London 1882). Eric Quayle has written a biography called Ballantyne the Brave (1967), plus a bibliography of first editions (1968). Ballantyne was remarkably careful about his research, taking care with details, gleaning his information from travellers' accounts or personal investigation. His novel The Coral Island was set in the South Pacific, where Ballantyne had never been, and is a literary precursor to Lord of the Flies. Ballantyne's edited guide to British Columbia goldfields, published from Edinburgh, was likely drawn from reports published in London and Edinburgh.

BOOKS:

Handbook to the New Gold Fields: A Full Account of the Richness and Extent of the Fraser River and Thompson River Gold Mines (Edinburgh: Alex Strachan, 1858)

[BCBW 2003] "Early B.C." "Gold" "Transient"