A pioneer of community mapping, Briony Penn of Salt Spring Island is a writer, artist and lecturer who holds a Ph.D. in geography from Edinburgh University.

"Map it and save it," says Briony Penn. "Mapping is a great excuse to talk to the neighbours, old-timers and local kids, and listen to tree frogs and barred owls, even in the city."

Penn has provided the foreword, and some of the inspiration for, Islands in the Salish Sea: A Community Atlas (Touchwood Editions, 2005), edited by Salt Spring Islanders Sheila Harrington and Judi Stevenson, in order to generate protective awareness for 17 of the largest islands in the Strait of Georgia, 12 of which already have their own land trust or conservancy organizations. Approximately 28,000 people live on these 17 islands from Quadra in the north to Saturna in the south.

The Salish Sea Community Mapping Project, which arose from Salt Spring Island, extends the concepts raised by Vancouver-based regional planner Doug Aberley in Boundaries of Home, Mapping for Local Empowerment (New Society, 1993).

Penn is also the author of A Year on the Wild Side (H&S 1999) [See review below] and she provided illustrations for Michael M'Gonigle's Planet U (New Society, 2006). Her children's book is Kids Book of Canadian Geography (Kidscan 2008).

Replete with photographs from various stages of Ian McTaggart-Cowan's life, Briony Penn's The Real Thing (Rocky Mountain, 2015) is touted as the first official biography of "the father of Canadian ecology," Ian McTaggart-Cowan (1910-2010).

Authorized by McTaggart-Cowan's family, it was completed with the support of the University of Victoria. [Coincidentally, Harbour Publishing released Ian McTaggart-Cowan: The Legacy of a Pioneering Biologist, Educator and Conservationist, co-edited by R. Wayne Campbell with Ronald D. Jakimchuk and Dennis A. Demarchi, slightly in advance of Penn's book.]

Ian McTaggart-Cowan's milestones were many: he was the founder of the first Canadian university wildlife department, he was a pioneer of nature-based television shows, and his early work in Canada's national parks became the basis for wildlife conservation and environmental education.

McTaggart-Cowan addressed issues from climate change to endangered species before these topics were on the public's radar.

The Real Thing purportedly "takes the reader on an adventurous and inspirational journey through the heart of North American ecology, wilderness, landscape and wonder." The book won the 2016 Roderick Haig-Brown regional prize which recognizes the author of the book that contributes most to the enjoyment and understanding of British Columbia. It was also shortlisted for a Hubert Evans non-fiction prize.

ALSO: According to RMB: "Cecil Paul, also known by his Xenaksiala name, Wa'xaid, is a respected elder, activist and orator, and one of the last fluent speakers of his people's language. Cecil was born in 1931 in the Kitlope and raised on fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering. At the age of 10 he was torn from his family and placed in a residential school run by the United Church of Canada at Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. For years, Cecil suffered from the pain of the abuse inflicted there. After three decades of prolonged alcohol abuse, he finally returned to the Kitlope and the positive influence of his people's knowledge and ways. Once Cecil's healing journey began, he eventually became an outspoken leader against the industrialization of his people's land and traditional territory, working tirelessly to protect the Kitlope, the largest intact temperate rainforest watershed in the world. Now in his late 80s, Cecil still lives in his ancestors' traditional territory, and his work protecting the Kitlope continues to this day." He is the author of Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa'xaid
(Rocky Mountain Books 2019 $30) as told to Briony Penn. 9781771602952


Following the Good River: The Life and Times of Wa'xaid (RMB Sept. 2020) $32 9781771603218. With Cecil Paul

Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa'xaid (Rocky Mountain Books 2019) $30 9781771602952. Ss told to Briony Penn.

Briony Penn. A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast Naturalist's Almanac. Victoria, BC: Touchwood, 2019. 400 pages. 9781771512671 (pbk) $26

The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan (Rocky Mountain Books, 2015) $30.00 9781771600705

M'Gonigle's Planet U (New Society, 2006)

A Year on the Wild Side (H&S 1999)

Kids Book of Canadian Geography (Kidscan 2008)

[BCBW 2019]

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
A Year on the Wild Side