River of Memory
The Everlasting Columbia
The Columbia River of today bears little resemblance to the river Native Americans, First Nations, and settlers knew in the early twentieth century. Engineering has transformed much of the river into a series of large reservoirs contained by fourteen hydroelectric dams. While many grieved the loss of the free-flowing river, others embraced a newly tamed waterway that could control floods, irrigate desert lands, and supply electrical power for the growing region.
River of Memory honours a place and time now gone from view. It restores an unfettered Columbia through more than ninety historical photographs that capture the river as it once appeared. This extraordinary visual record is accompanied by the words of early explorers, surveyors, and naturalists who wrote about specific places along the river and by the work of contemporary Canadian and American writers and poets.
Organized to carry the reader from the mouth of the Columbia where it enters the ocean to its source in eastern British Columbia, the narrative introduces the natural history of the river through the archetypal journey of salmon returning to the river’s headwaters in Columbia Lake. Introducing each section are colour illustrations of salmon and other indigenous fish by noted artist Joseph Tomelleri.
River of Memory fosters connections between the river’s natural and human histories by encouraging readers to linger along the river’s shores and spend time reflecting on its dramatic mountain and plateau landscapes.
William D. Layman is a recipient of the James B. Castles Award from the Center for Columbia River History and author of Native River: The Columbia Remembered.
Contributors: Jeannette Armstrong, Gloria Bird, Peter Christensen, Tim McNulty, Kathleen Dean Moore, Eileen Pearkes, Theodore Roethke, Kim Stafford, William Stafford, Robert Sund, David Wagoner, and Elizabeth Woody.
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