Reta Alma Hodgins, the mother of novelist Jack Hodgins, wrote a history of the Merville area that was settled by World War I veterans. Jack Hodgins' novel Broken Ground, set in 1922, covered some of the same historical terrain and received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Some of Jack Hodgins' earliest memories of storytelling include sitting in his pyjamas listening to his parents and their friends recall the Great Comox Fire of 1922, an event that is described in Broken Ground. The logging/farming community of Merville is located near Black Creek, between Courtenay and Campbell River on Vancouver Island. "For most of my childhood," Hodgins says, "we lived on about 70 acres, where we had cows and chickens. Everybody around us had that kind of place -- a house, a barn, a field, a cow or twoo, certainly a garden -- what everybody referred to as their 'stump ranch'. The place had been logged years before, leaving stumps that were about ten feet high and 15 feet wide, charcoal black."

Reta spent a few years providing Merville news to the Courtenay newspaper. She also served as president of the Courtenay branch of the Canadian Daughters League, Assembly No. 6.


Merville and Its Early Settlers, 1919-1985 (Campbell River: Kask Graphics, 1985)

[BCBW 2016] "Local History"