Did a legendary Civil War outlaw really end his days on Vancouver Island? Rumours to that effect have persisted for over a century, ever since a 1907 edition of The Daily Colonist published an alleged eye-witness report that Bill Quantrill was living under an assumed name in Quatsino.
Harold Macy grew up reading about the James brothers, Buffalo Bill, and William Clarke Quantrill, the Confederate bushwhacker whose crimes included an infamous massacre of civilians in Lawrence, Kansas. Macy heard the rumour of Quantrill’s island refuge and soon found the references. They inspired him to write San Josef, a novel about an aging Civil War veteran who, haunted by misdeeds, seeks refuge in a remote village at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Now part of Cape Scott Provincial Park, in the early 1900s San Josef was home to a Danish colony struggling to carve a utopian farming community out of the wilderness.
“Cape Scott is a land of mist, fog and loneliness. The themes of redemption, revenge and resolute idealism found many metaphors in the rugged nature and the perseverance of the pioneers,” said Macy, who has lived near Courtenay for over forty years. “It was a labour of love that took nearly twenty years to complete.”
Published by BC-based Tidewater Press, San Josef is available at bookstores throughout Vancouver Island.
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