The Wastell family had much to contend with on a daily basis. Besides running a sawmill and surviving in very un-genteel circumstances, Norris's mother, a registered nurse, was the only source of medical help in the community. Not surprisingly, she had to treat all types of ailments ranging from pneumonia to severed fingers and deliver numerous babies in all sorts of conditions. The sawmill's tugboat often had to serve double duty as an emergency ambulance.
It was not an easy life or childhood for Norris and her younger sister, but it was an exciting one. She never learned how to ride a bicycle, but she could row a skiff or hook a runaway log as well as any grownup. As kids, Norris and her sister ventured out in an open boat with a 2 hp engine to salvage wood, all the time contending with tides and unpredictable weather. They grew up in a world of kelp dolls and killer whales and a very odd assortment of West Coast eccentrics, new Canadians with little English, mill workers, coastal drifters in leaky boats and jacks-of-all-trades from the streets of Vancouver.
Norris's memoir, full of humour, hardship, and remarkable events is "one of the more charming and insightful portraits we have yet had of upcoast life between the wars, a busy and colourful period justifiably described as the golden age of the BC coast."
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