Born in North Vancouver in 1924, William (Bill) Hagelund went to sea at 16 as a crewman for the Consolidated Whaling Company Fleet. After 14 years at sea, he came ashore and worked for 30 years as a Molson Brewery engineer. Upon his retirement from whaling, tugboating, marine surveying, boat building and brewing in 1985, he became more deeply involved in the building of the S.S. Beaver, a replica of the first steamship on the West Coast. It was launched in 1986. Hagelund served as master for that replica of the S.S. Beaver for ten years, re-sailing some of the Hudson Bay Company routes. Also a licensed prospector and a model engineers, he wrote two early novels for juveniles, Flying the Chase Flag and The Halibut Hunters, followed much later by a history of Pacific Northwest whaling, Whalers No More (Harbour), which received a B.C. Book Prize in 1988. Subsequent titles from Hancock House have included Harbour Burning, The Dowager Queen, I Believe and House of Suds.

Vancouver's maritime-related fires in the 20th century are recalled in Harbour Burning. Events include the Pier D fire, the Second Narrows Bridge collapse, the Greenhill Park explosion and a major fire at the Alberta Wheat Pool. The Dowager Queen re-examines the maritime history of the S.S. Beaver. The House of Suds looks at the business and equipment of brewing in British Columbia since 1858. In his wide-ranging theological treatise about the origins of mankind entitled I Believe, Hagelund states, "I am unable to believe we evolved from the sea through a slime/single-cell/biological form, tadpole/frog or monkey/ape strain of life form... Nor can I believe we were created from a piece of bone or the dust of this earth as the Bible depicts creation... I strongly believe we were manipulated or created by a superior intelligentsia (a god in primitive eyes), possibly from an alien life form, then abandoned for reasons unknown at present, before our full potential had been realized."

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Whalers No More: A History of Whaling on the West Coast


Flying the Chase Flag (Ryerson, 1961)
The Halibut Hunters (Ryerson, 1963)
Whalers No More: A History of Whaling on the West Coast (Harbour, 1987)
Harbour Burning (Hancock House, 2002)
Dowager Queen: The Hudson's Bay SS Beaver (Hancock House, 2003)
I Believe: Children of the Universe (Hancock House, 2003)
House of Suds: A History of Beer Brewing in Western Canada (Hancock House, 2003)

[LITHIS / BCBW 2003] "Whales"