HARPER, Virginia Jones




Author Tags: Civil Rights, Fiction

North Vancouver resident Virginia Jones Harper, who died in March, 1998 of cancer, has left behind her second novel, Wing of the Raven (Godwin Books, 443 Silverdale Place, N. Van. B.C. V7N 2Z6, $15.95), a multi-generational tale of mixed-blood descendants. When Captain Vancouver arrives at Burrard Inlet, midshipman Matt Stewart has an affair with Kah-te, a Musqueam slave girl. Harper's work traces the fortunes of the "half-breed" twins born of this union. The adventures of these characters and their descendents are influenced by the major events of Vancouver's early history: the arrival of fur-traders, lumbermen and gold-miners; the gold rush; the Great Fire of 1886; and the arrival of the CPR. 0-9696774-5-6

PUBLISHER'S PROMO: "Virginia Jones Harper is a native of Wheeling, West Virginia and a graduate of Duke University. Her first book, “Time Steals Softly” (1992), is an historical novel about an exceptional Ohio Valley woman who lived through the Civil War. Mrs. Harper moved to North Vancouver in 1975 and, ever the voracious reader, soon became very knowledgeable in Salish culture. Armed with this knowledge and considerable compassion and breadth of spirit (both of which are evident in her generous volunteer work with refugees) Mrs. Harper thought up a very interesting yarn called “Wing of the Raven.” Wing of the Raven is a multi-generational novel about the triumphs and tragedies of the mixed-blood descendants of three families; the Stewarts, who are English, and two aboriginal families--one Burrard Inlet Squamish and the other Fraser River Musqueam. Starting in the late 1700’s when European and American explorers began to infiltrate the Pacific Northwest Wing of the Raven opens with a detailed description of aboriginal life in the area that was to become the city of Vancouver. A brief but fertile encounter between a Musqueam slave-girl and one of Captain George Vancouver’s midshipmen starts a family line of half-breeds whose lives are conjured up against a background of real events: the arrival of fur-traders, missionaries, colonists, lumbermen and gold-miners; the completion of the CPR; the great fire of 1886; the abuse of Chinese immigrant laborers. Having both English and Salish roots, the Stewart family is in a unique position to appreciate the effects of the Indian Acts and the reserve system and to expose their injustices. This novel has much to do with the struggle of native peoples to regain their rights and self-esteem."

[BCBW 1998] "Early Vancouver"