When the first edition of Raincoast Chronicles was produced by a couple of novice publishers in the unlikely location of Pender Harbour in 1972, it boldly announced that it was going "to put BC character on the record." Printed in sepia ink and decorated with the rococo flourishes characteristic of that extravagant era, the unclassifiable journal-cum-serial-book about life on the BC coast struck a nerve and in time became something very close to what it set out to be--a touchstone of BC identity. Soon the term "Raincoast," which had been coined by the editors, was appearing on boats, puppet theatres, interior decorating firms and at least one other publishing enterprise. The publication proved popular enough that by the time the fifth number was on the stands the previous four were sold out, and publishers Howard and Mary White were left pondering how to deal with the continuing clamour for back issues. Ignoring the advice of more experienced heads, they decided to reissue the first five numbers of their rather eccentric paperback series in one bound volume--in hardcover yet. They gave it the enigmatic title Raincoast Chronicles First Five. It went on to become one of the most popular books ever published in BC and is still rumbling along in its 14th printing--a certified BC classic.
That set the pattern and every succeeding group of five single editions have been gathered and bound with the titles Raincoast Chronicles Six/Ten., Raincoast Chronicles Eleven Up., and now Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five.
By far the largest of the collections at 420 pages, Fourth Five collects the complete Raincoast Chronicles 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 and is living proof that some things just keep getting better. Containing 32 inimitable stories, from poems and articles, the volume expounds on such diverse matters as supernatural deer, the cannery village of Ceepeecee, fishing-fleet superstitions and the coveted recipe for donkey boiler coffee. Writers include coast favourites Howard White, Doreen Armitage, Tom Henry, Dick Hammond, Vickie Jensen and Bus Griffiths. As a bonus, this collection includes two longer features: one on the history of Telegraph Cove, BC, by Pat Wastell Norris and one on the frontier women of BC by Stephen Hume. The book is illustrated in characteristically extravagant fashion with drawings and archival photos.
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