The Maquinna Line

A Family Saga

By (author): Norma Macmillan
Foreword by: Alison Arngrim
Afterword by: Charles Campbell
ISBN 9781926741031
Softcover | Publication Date: February 15, 2010
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 7.5 in
288 Pages

About the Book

A murder, a tryst, a mysterious child. A Victoria aristocrat who obsesses over her Churchill relatives. A repressive Welsh mother with a royalty fixation. A once-carefree Hesquiat girl from Nootka Sound. A dashing Icelandic philanderer. And quiet, steady Julia Godolphin, trying to rise above it all. The lost novel of Norma Macmillan, the Vancouver actress who lived much of her life in New York and Hollywood, is the work of a woman steeped in the American entertainment industry but deeply in love with the history of her native province, which eventually drew her home before her death in 2001.

The Maquinna Line: A Family Saga is set on Vancouver Island from 1871 to 1945, with a nod to the meeting of Captain Cook and Chief Maquinna in 1778. It traces the stories of the five families of varied social standing, including two descendents of Chief Maquinna. In the end, they’re all ordinary people trying to find happiness in the face of intrigue, ambition, misunderstanding and changing social and sexual mores.

About the Author(s)

Norma Macmillan had a wide-ranging career in the arts, including the production of her plays, Crowded Affair and Free as a Bird, in the 1950s and 1960s by BC's groundbreaking Totem Theatre and New Jersey's famed Grist Mill Playhouse. But she is best known as the actress who was the voice of television's Gumby and Casper the Friendly Ghost. The Maquinna Line began when the family lived at Sunset Boulevard's legendary Chateau Marmont. Norma continued to work on the book after she and her husband, Thor Arngrim, returned to Vancouver, but it languished in the back of a closet after she died in 2001, at the age of 79. Thor and veteran Vancouver writer Charles Campbell revived it, and it is a tribute to an old-fashioned storytelling tradition that respects history but isn't afraid to enliven it.

Alison Arngrim wrote the forward to The Maquinna Line. She is the author of Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Being Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated. Her role as Nellie Oleson on the popular televisions program Little House on the Prairie continues to bring her notice today. Alison is daughter to Norma Macmillan and Thor Arngrim.

The Maquinna Line's editor/ghost writer and contributor of the Afterword, Charles Campbell wanted to write fiction but got sidetracked by journalism. He edited The Georgia Straight for a decade, worked at The Vancouver Sun as entertainment editor and an editorial board member for five years and is a contributing editor to The Tyee website. He studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia, was a Southam Fellow at Toronto's Massey College, and has taught in the writing and publishing programs at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.


“Drenched in Vancouver Island history.” —The Times Colonist

“Widower ushers voice of Casper’s lost novel into print.” —Tom Hawthorn, Special to The Globe & Mail

“Vancouver journalist Charles Campbell helped …get [The Maquinna Line] published …. British Columbians should be grateful that he did.” —The Vancouver Sun