Prolific writer spotlights history and humour of B.C.'s Sunshine Coast in new book

·3 min read
Ever wonder how a roughly 200-kilometre stretch of coast dominated by temperate rainforest came to be known as the Sunshine Coast? Howard White's new collection of stories about the area has the answers to this and more. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel - image credit)
Ever wonder how a roughly 200-kilometre stretch of coast dominated by temperate rainforest came to be known as the Sunshine Coast? Howard White's new collection of stories about the area has the answers to this and more. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel - image credit)

A new collection of stories by author Howard White could be a great read for anyone unfamiliar with the zany characters and events of B.C.'s Sunshine Coast over the past several decades.

Here On The Coast: Reflections From the Rainbelt includes 50 funny tales about life on the roughly 200-kilometre stretch of coast between Howe Sound and Desolation Sound.

White, who has spent around 60 years in the area and has a dozen other books to his name, said it was primarily laughs he was aiming for with this latest.

"I mostly wrote this to entertain," said White.

Readers will learn about the famous Hollywood actress who built a mansion up the remote Bute Inlet, explorers who named islands along the coast after their favourite racehorses, and a lyrical logger known as Pete the Poet.

Here On The Coast: Reflections From the Rainbelt is 224 pages packed with laughs about happenings on the Sunshine Coast by author Howard White, who has lived in the area for around 60 years.
Here On The Coast: Reflections From the Rainbelt is 224 pages packed with laughs about happenings on the Sunshine Coast by author Howard White, who has lived in the area for around 60 years.(Harbour Publishing)

Why the 'Sunshine' Coast?

And if readers are not familiar with how an area of temperate rainforest came to be called the Sunshine Coast, White also solves that mystery.

In 1914, according to the Sunshine Coast Museum, a local named Harry Roberts — founder of the community of Roberts Creek — painted the words "The Sunshine Belt" on the outside of a local freight house, with the name used to promote Roberts Creek as a summer resort destination.

But White's book adds a few more fun details to the story.

He reveals how Roberts learned the community got just a little less annual rainfall than nearby Gibsons and so he got out his paint can to rub it in.

"It was intended to be a joke," said White. "Just to twit his relatives around the corner … I'm sure Harry never meant it to catch on."

The Sunshine Coast got its name from the founder of Roberts Creek who, according to White, found out his small community got a few millimetres less annual rainfall than nearby Gibsons — and took it upon himself to indulge in a little neighbourly rivalry.
The Sunshine Coast got its name from the founder of Roberts Creek who, according to White, found out his small community got a few millimetres less annual rainfall than nearby Gibsons — and took it upon himself to indulge in a little neighbourly rivalry.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel)

White's comical stories pull from the present, as well.

During an interview on CBC's On The Island, White talked about the routine frustration he faces when he has to give his address on Rondeview Road, Pender Harbour to someone.

White said the road name is not a misspelled version of the French word rendezvous, but actually a pun created by a local developer named Ron.

"I curse him each time," said White with a chuckle.

White is a prolific writer who founded Raincoast Chronicles and Harbour Publishing in the early 1970s.

He has been awarded the Order of B.C., the Canadian Historical Association's Career Award for Regional History and in 2007 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

According to his online author bio, he was raised in a series of camps and settlements on the B.C. coast and "never got over it."

LISTEN | Author Howard White on his new book that pokes gentle fun, and pays homage, to the people and places that have contributed to the unique communities along the Sunshine Coast: