Born in Duncan, B.C. on June 22 1927, Robert Harvey worked on coastal tugboats as a teenager. Not to be confused with R.G. Harvey, Robert Harvey of Denman Island was a courtroom lawyer for 54 years prior to his retirement, whereupon he diligently researched a novel about his intrepid seafaring relative, Captain James Gaudin, who married the daughter of B.C. pioneer Alexander Caulfield Anderson and his wife Eliza at the family farm in North Saanich in 1873.

With the most unwieldy title ever given to a novel written in British Columbia, No Tame Cat - Fur Trade Daughter, Her Cape Horn Captain and the Chilean Courtesan (Ptarmigan Press, 2009), Harvey recalls the life and times of the Jersey-born sea captain who rounded Cape Horn many times before eventually settling in Victoria to raise five children and serve as District Agent for the Minister of Marine & Fisheries after thirty years at sea.

Harvey's fictionalized version of Gaudin's life is supported by research into his own family history and 600 pages of HBC logbooks for the barques Prince of Wales, Ocean Nymph and Lady Lampson. After introducing Gaudin's first command in the HBC barque Ocean Nymph, Harvey concentrates on Gaudin's command of the barque Lady Lampson (1869-1879) which he sailed nine times around the Horn from London to the Pacific Northwest. The cover painting of that ship by Jack W. Hardcastle (1881-1980) was commissioned by the author's father, Robert Oliver Dunsmuir Harvey Q.C. (1900-1958) who placed great emphasis on his familial connections to the Gaudin and Anderson families.

Captain Gaudin was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, on January 28, 1838, and died on January 12, 1913 in Victoria. Two years earlier he had travelled to the Yukon to visit his son J.R.P. Gaudin, an engineer who had designed and fabricated the ship (sic: pre-fabricated the stern-wheeler) Anglian, taken the ship to Wrangell, Alaska, up the Stikine River overland to Lake Teslin and re-assembled it for the Canadian Development Corporation in the winter of 1897-1898.


No Tame Cat: Fur Trade Daughter, Her Cape Horn Captain and the Chilean Courtesan (Ptarmigan Press, 2009) $25 978-0-919537-82-8

[BCBW 2010]