Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Monday, July 05, 2010

Standing Stones a finalist . . .

I'm thrilled to learn that Standing Stones was selected as a finalist in this year's Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest. Over 1100 writers entered with nearly 100 chosen as finalists in 12 categories. Results will be announced July 24 at an awards dinner in Seattle. I'm going!

C. C. Humphreys is the keynote speaker at the dinner. This accomplished writer gives his occupation as "writer, actor, and fight choreographer," so I'm sure to learn something new. He's on my reading list now, along with other research which pulls me in many different directions -- all 19th Century but in Tasmania, China, Hawai'i, and along the fur traders' routes in Canada west from York to Fort Vancouver.

I found a gem in Paul Kane (1810-1871) who, inspired by George Catlin, painted to preserve the culture and images of the great wilderness of the West. Kane gained permission to travel with the Hudson's Bay Company fur brigades west and painted landscapes of Native peoples across Canada.

He left Toronto in May and arrived (after many adventures and misadventures) at Fort Vancouver in December, 1846. That's over 6 months on the road in far more rugged conditions we experience today, even when we go camping. He hunkered down at Fort Vancouver and then travelled throughout the Willamette Valley and north, including a stop at Fort Victoria.


Somewhere along the way, Kane painted an eruption of Mt. St. Helens at night (1847, source Wikipedia). You'll note the eruption comes (accurately) from the side of the cone, so not as significant as the big blow-up in 1980, but this must have had an impact on the peoples living there at that time. I also learned that Kane visited the Whitman Mission just a few months before the massacre there. Ah, the links that research brings!

Thanks to the library, I have Diane Eaton and Sheila Urbanek's book, Paul Kane's Great Nor-West with its wonderful commentary and diary excerpts to accompany his paintings. Now, back to work . . .