LITERARY LOCATION: Sugar Lake, north of Cherryville, in the Monashee Mountains. Directions: From Vernon, drive 50 km east on Highway #6 to Frank's General Store (Tempo Gas Station) at Cherryville on the corner of #6 and Sugar Lake Road. Turn left (north) onto Sugar Lake Road and go 17 kms to Sugar Lake. You will pass Kate Creek Road on your right as you approach the lake. Continue downhill to the one-way bridge.

Historian Richard Mackie has often written at his family's off-the-grid cabin, built in 1922, on the reservoir that was formerly a lake before it was flooded in 1944. Designed by Austin and Hugh Mackie, the fishing cabin was built in 1922 by Bill Fraser and Bill Hollingsworth, both backwoodsmen who were veterans of the West Kootenay hardrock mining boom of the 1890s. The cabin has also been the inspiration for the work of his sister Christina Mackie, an artist who has lived in London since 1975. Richard Mackie wrote several of his books at Sugar Lake, particularly his biography of George Drabble.


Richard Somerset Mackie has twice won the province's top honour for historical writing about British Columbia, once for his book on early fur trading and again for his study of logging on Vancouver Island. His classic Vancouver Island study Island Timber went through five printings and has sold 10,000 copies.

From 2011 to 2016, Mackie was associate editor and book reviews editor at the UBC-based academic journal BC Studies, greatly enhancing its vitality and appeal. In September of 2016, he accepted a new position as editor for The Ormsby Review, a new, online journal with similar content but much broader reach. Via the BC BookLook daily news site (associated with the periodical B.C. BookWorld, a newspaper about books and authors that has been popular since 1987), The Ormsby Review reaches far more readers, more often, with more reviews,

Also, an adjunct professor in the Geography Department at UBC, Mackie has recalled, "As a kid in North Saanich I collected old bottles. My moment of triumph was digging Judge Begbie's dump at his summer house at Elk Lake. It contained rare Scotch whisky bottles as well as Chinese pottery. I did incalculable damage to many old sites. My only consolation is that most sites have now been entirely obliterated by dredging or development. Historical archaeology is still almost non-existent in this province anyway. I also collected First Nations basalt arrowheads, scrapers, and bone needles, which could still be picked up on local beaches. I was blissfully unaware that such collecting is prohibited by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Protection Act. Eventually I put my experience as a "pot hunter" to good use by working in BC archaeology between 1976 and 1984. I also studied mediaeval history at the University of St Andrews and history and historical geography at the universities of Victoria and British Columbia, where I obtained a PhD in 1993.";

Richard Mackie's Mountain Timber: The Comox Logging Company in the Vancouver Island Mountains (Sono Nis 2009) is the sequel to Mackie's best-selling Island Timber: A Social History of the Comox Logging Company, Vancouver Island. Whereas Island Timber was set on the low-lying coastal flats adjacent to the Strait of Georgia, Mountain Timber is concerned with Comox Logging's later and higher fortunes in the densely-forested valleys and lakes of the Vancouver Island mountains.

As the company depleted its supply of coastal Douglas fir in the 1920s, it moved inland to log the Bevan sidehill, the shores of Comox Lake, and the valleys and tributaries of the Puntledge and Cruickshank Rivers. But wherever it moved, the company had the same purpose: to find and cut mature Douglas fir forests. The action in Mountain Timber takes place between 1925 and 1945 -- the two critical decades when most of the available lowland timber was cut. This book also revisits Comox Logging's railway logging shows out of Headquarters and Camps 1, 2, and 3, around Oyster River and Black Creek.

For Home Truths: Highlights from BC History, a surprise B.C. bestseller, Richard Mackie and Graeme Wynn, the BC Studies editor, assembled an anthology of representative articles drawn from the first forty-four years of BC Studies (1968 -2012). "Somehow we narrowed 600 articles down to ten works arranged on the theme of "finding home" as outlined in George Bowering's landmark article 'Home Away' in BC Studies in 1984," Mackie writes. For more, see

DATE OF BIRTH: December 8, 1957



Lieutenant-Governor's Medal (British Columbia Historical Federation) 2001 and 1999 (and runner-up in 1986);

Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (short-listed 2001)


Home Truths: Highlights from BC History (Harbour, 2012) Co-edited with Graeme Wynn. $26.95 978-1-55017-577-6
Mountain Timber (Sono Nis, 2009)
Island Timber (Sono Nis, 2000)
Trading Beyond the Mountains (UBC Press, 1997)
The Wilderness Profound: Victorian Life in the Gulf of Georgia (Sono Nis Press 1995).
Hamilton Mack Laing: Hunter, Naturalist (Sono Nis, 1985)

[BCBW 2016]

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Hamilton Mack Laing: Hunter-Naturalist
Home Truths: Highlights from BC History
Mountain Timber: The Comox Logging Company in the Vancouver Island Mountains
The Wilderness Profound: Victorian Life on the Gulf of Georgia