A Perfect Eden

Encounters by Early Explorers of Vancouver Island

By (author): Michael Layland
ISBN 9781771511773
Hardcover | Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Book Dimensions: 10.125 in x 9.375 in
256 Pages

About the Book

Shortlisted for two 2016 BC Book Prizes
Finalist for the 2016 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing

A compelling history of the earliest explorers to Vancouver Island, brought to life with illustrations and maps.

In 1842, when explorer James Douglas encountered the rugged natural paradise that would become Vancouver Island, he described it as “a perfect Eden.” This book gathers the early recorded histories and personal accounts left by Chinese seafarers, Spanish and British naval officers, traders seeking sea otter pelts, colonial surveyors, as well as soldiers, settlers, and other adventurers, starting from many centuries ago up to 1858. Collected here in detail for the first time, these accounts create a multilayered tale of discovery and exploration.

A Perfect Eden is the companion volume to the acclaimed The Land of Heart’s Delight: Early Maps and Charts of Vancouver Island, which was shortlisted for the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice BC Book Prize, and for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize.

About the Author(s)

Michael Layland was president of the Victoria Historical Society, the Friends of the BC Archives, and is an amateur naturalist. Trained as an officer and mapmaker in the Royal Engineers, now retired, he has authored three books on the progression of European knowledge of Vancouver Island. Discover more at michaellayland.com.


“Layland is the perfect guide. He has read everything about Vancouver Island from 1774 to 1862, and delivers the choicest morsels from hundred of log books and diaries. He introduces us, in pictures and stories, to the people whose names we live with every day . . . and takes us with them as they charted these waters and measured the land . . . This book is my top pick.” —Robert Amos, Times Colonist

“Given how many books have been written about the exploration of Vancouver Island and the waters around it, is there really room for one more? In a word, yes. Michael Layland’s A Perfect Eden is a fine addition to the range of books already published . . . This book is informative and highly readable, and no matter how much you have read about exploration of the Island, you will surely learn from this book as well.” —Dave Obee, Times Colonist

“A well-organized, well-written guide to first contact [between European explorers and First Nations in BC].” —Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun