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 Featured Title
Vanishing British Columbia
Michael Kluckner  

$51.95 Hardcover
Release Date: 1/3/2005
ISBN: 9780774811255    

$41.95 Paperback
Release Date:
ISBN: 9780774811262    

224 Pages


About the Book

• Shortlisted, 2005 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize, BC Book Awards
• 2nd Prize, 2005 Book Writing Competition on BC History, BC Historical Federation

The old buildings and historic places of British Columbia form a kind of “roadside memory,” a tangible link with stories of settlement, change, and abandonment that reflect the great themes of our history. With small towns declining and old rural properties changing, so little of the history of these places has been recorded in museums or archives, and so much of it may disappear as families disperse and memories dim.

More than a decade ago, Michael Kluckner began painting these dots on his personal map of the province in a watercolour sketchbook. In 1999, after he put a few of the sketches on his website, a network of correspondents emerged that eventually led him to the family letters, photo albums, and memories – all from a disappearing era of the province.

Vanishing British Columbia is a record of these places and the stories they tell. It combines engaging and insightful historical commentary with over 160 of the author’s original paintings. It has an exceptional assortment of historic imagery, including old postcards, architectural plans, and photographs.

The study of roadside memory demonstrates the visceral connection that people, especially those who are part of the rural-to-urban diaspora of modern times, have for the sites of their family memories. On a grander scale this approach leads to a broader understanding of more abstract historical themes and of the province’s history and culture. It also presents a compelling argument for stewardship of regional history in the face of urbanization and globalization.

About the Author(s)

Michael Kluckneris a writer, artist, and heritage activist who has spent decades exploring the highways and byways of British Columbia. His published works include Vancouver the Way It Was, Paving Paradise, Vanishing Vancouver, The Pullet Surprise: A Year on an Urban Farm, and Canada: A Journey of Discovery. He is also a regular contributor to Canadian Geographic and Harrowsmith Country Life. He lives on a small farm in Langley, British Columbia, dividing his time between art, culture and agriculture.

Table of Contents


Themes & Variations
Southwestern Mainland
Hope-Princeton & Tulameen
The Okanagan
Boundary Country
The Kootenays
Vancouver Island
The Cariboo & the Chilcotin
The North
The Future

Painting Notes
Additional Notes & Acknowledgments


It has taken the unique eye and talent of Michael Kluckner to assemble this poignant aspect of our history into Vanishing British Columbia, a sumptuous visual and written essay on the dynamics of abandonment.
Kluckner is a muli-talented, multifaceted artist, writer and social commentator. This beautifully conceived and designed book is his 13th publication, and demostrates his unqiue gift for gentle, persuasive, and intelligent communication. It has already hit the top of the BC bestseller lists, a remarkable feat for a book that aims for the heart and the brain, not the jugular.
-- Donald Luxton, Vancouver Review, Summer 2005

B.C. artist, writer and activist Kluckner has written and illustrated a number of books about Vancouver and Canadian points east. This work, a map of memory of British Colmbia’s old buildings and historic sites, combines his trademark delicate watercolour paintings (160 of them) with photographs, architectural plans and even old postcards.
-- In Brief, Coffee-Table Books, Globe and Mail, August 6, 2005

Michael Kluckner, a highly talented water-colourist, began a decade ago to document in paintings some of the historic landmarks that signal the ever-evolving variety of human settlement patterns across B.C.…this book represents a substantial contribution to the literary matter of British Columbia and is one that anyone who loves this province will treasure.
-- Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun, April 16, 2005

[In] his lastest gorgeous effort, Kluckner has taken his role as writer, artist, and heritage activist beyond the urban boundaries for which he’s better known, (Vanishing Vancouver) and expanded his vision onto a provincial palette. From Atlin to Zeballos and Qualicum to the Kootenays, Kluckner’s Vanishing British Columbia paints a vivid portrait of the province many of us once knew.
-- John Threlfall, Monday Magazine, July 2005

It’s an impressive collection made even more impressive in a hardcover book, hot off the presses…Vanishing British Columbia is a valentine to – and a call to action to remember and preserve – the human environment of BC.
-- Cottage Magazine, May/June 2005

Vanishing British Columbia doesn’t rescue the past; it invests the ever-ephemeral present with mystique.
-- BC Bookworld, Summer 2005

With UBC Press as his publisher, Kluckner wasn’t obliged to trim his text to make his pictures showier; he got the space to say what he wanted to. The book gives us our province as it was, even as it’s changing into something else.
-- Rebecca Wigod, Vancouver Sun Books Editor, Vancouver Sun, Saturday, December 31, 2005.

Kluckner turns the recording of historic places upside down in at least two critical ways. Oridinarily, because the authors are writers of books, newspaper and journal articles, and even poetry, they blend the written and the visual into a literary sketchbook in which the text dominates the illustrations. In Kluckner’s case, the opposite is true: his books are watercolour sketchbooks. Hand-drawn maps, historical photographs, floor plans, heritage postcards, and the quietly radiant watercolours engege the reader at first glance, and together they overwhelm the text, nowhere more so than in the lavishly produced Vanishing British Columbia. Kluckner’s use of the radio and the Internet is yet another technique that turns the tradition on its head. The most singular aspect of the genre is the authors’ shared commitment to the literary and visual memory of historic places. Kluckner is no exception. The reader may well ask where this dedication will take him in the future. Without any doubt, the participants of the Conserving the Modern in Canada Conference held recently at Trent University would encourage him to record the “vanishing modern” architecture, engineering, planning, anmd landscapes of post-1940 British Columbia.
--Jill Wade, Thompson Rivers University, BC Studies, Autumn 2005

Vanishing British Columbia uses words and images to examine ethnic sites and diverse roadside towns and worlds. Historic towns, houses, railways, and more are given strong social and historical treatment in a moving tribute to a vanishing world.
-- Library Bookwatch, October 2005

This book holds more than 160 of his studies – muted, gentle, more evocation than duplication – as well as the many stories that Kluckner has collected. If regional history is of interest to you, you’ll appreciate the rich treasure trove that is Kluckner’s project – at times it is like rummaging around a forgotten drawer in your grandparent’s basement.
-- Christian Martin, Northwest Bookshelf

This is Michael’s thirteenth book and it is a pleasure. Kluckner makes an excellent case for regional preservation and the stewardship of regional history. The initial 3000 printing has been sold out and an additional 3000 are being printed. People and libraries who want a copy should not delay.
-- Arnold Ranneris, Past President of Victoria Historical Society, British Columbia History, Vol. 38, No. 4, 2005.

In this beautifully illustrated book, the artist and author, Michael Kluckner offers not only portraits of a changing British Columbia but also an essay on the transitory nature of settlement and abandonment in the rural North American West…The sum total is a work that, although disguised as a coffee-table book, is in fact an excellent (and democratic) resource for anyone interested in British Columbian history.
B.D. Marsh, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Spring 2006.

Kluckner’s watercolors have a softness and simplicity and capture the haunting, ephemeral quality of the places he depicts in a manner not possible with a bold palette of oils or the crisp pixelation of digital photography.
—Forrest Pass, H-Canada, November 2006

Sample Chapter

Chapter One

Related Topics

BC Studies > History
BC Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of Vanishing British Columbia from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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