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Posted August 16, 2013 by Miama Admin in Harrison history
 
 

Novelist Bertrand W. Sinclair – Harrison Inspiration

bsinclair
bsinclair

open book  Bertrand William Sinclair (1881–1972) was best-selling Canadian novelist of Western adventure stories. His most successful novel, Poor Man’s Rock, sold over 100,000 copies; the copyright of another novel, Big Timber, was bought by Paramount Pictures and renewed for several years; and his total production amounted to nine novels and two or three hundreds of short stories. Yet, strangely enough, even though he lived at the Harrison Hot Springs for several years and used this locale and its inhabitants – very thinly disguised – in many of his stories, his name is now quite unknown in the Harrison district.
Though he wrote under the name of Bertrand Sinclair, the name on his birth certificate was rather less distinguished one of William Brown Sinclair. On the advice of his publisher.
Bertrand Sinclair was born in Edinburgh in 1881, but his parents emigrated to Regina when he was eight years old and he grew up in the atmosphere of the old West. At fourteen, out of antipathy to a stepfather, he ran away from home to become a cowboy in Montana; at sixteen he brought a trail herd north in the last year of the big cattle drives – “seven hundred miles without a fence, except lodge-pole pastures at isolated ranches”. He mixed with the Indians in the days when they were still “blanket-wearers”, and he watched their celebrations, their horse races and their cow shoots, which had replaced the former buffalo shoots. The imprint of this life remained forever with him:”I lived, worked and grew to manhood among them – the cow-puncher, the cattlemen, the deputy sheriff and the marshall. I happen to know at first hand life and locale I am engaged in portraying.” The novelist is sometimes a spectator rather than participator in life, but Bertrand Sinclair was cast in the Ernest Hemingway mould. Part of his nature craved action, romance and adventure as an outlet for his great vitality, yet another part of him demanded that he should feel, absorb, interpret and write.
He wrote his first short story in 1902, “while in a winter camp for a cow outfit in Bear Paws, Montana”, and so began an instantly successful writing career. In 1905 he married Bertha M. Bowers, who was another very popular writer of westerners, but the relationship did not last, and in 1911 he made a second marriage, this time to Bertha’s cousin, Ruth. They moved to Vancouver in 1912. For some time now, Bertrand had felt that the American West was growing too civilized for him: “When the transition period – from the pastoral to the pseudo-agricultural – came in, … I came to the coast and took root among green timber and running water”.
Bertrand’s first search for rural surroundings took him from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs, where he and Ruth were installed by August 1912. He did not enlist during World War 1, holding strong views on futility of war, but remained here on the lake until at least 1915 and possibly for two or three years after that. At Harrison he had a highly productive output, which included three novels:

  • The Golden Calk (1913), tale about gold prospecting on Harrison Lake
  • North of Fifty three (1914), a romance set in the northern interior of British Columbia
  • Big Timber (1916), another adventure with a Harrison Lake setting,this time a logging camp. READ ONLINE

Big Timber (1916)

Advanture with a Harrison Lake setting, this time a logging camp. READ ONLINE  or DOWNLOAD KINDLE  or DOWNLOAD EPUB 

North of Fifty three (1914)

Romance set in the northern interior of British Columbia. READ ONLINE or DOWNLOAD KINDLE or DOWNLOAD EPUB

The Golden Calk (1913)

Harrison Hot Springs vs BanffTale about gold prospecting on Harrison Lake. Sorry eBook is not available at this time. The story was published in The Popular Magazine March 15, 1914. No.5 Vol.31 – If you know where to get this publication, please let us know. Miama.ca

 

The Harrison locale also figures in three of his short stories:

  • Fuzzy Wuzzy (1915)
  • Still Waters (1915)
  • The Heathen Chinee is Peculiar (1919)

Fuzzy Wuzzy (1915)

The Popular MagazineThe Popular Magazine May 23, 1915 

Still Waters (1915)

The Popular MagazineThe Popular Magazine April 23, 1915

The Heathen Chinee Is Peculiar (1919)

The Popular MagazineThe Popular Magazine Sep 20, 1919

His descriptions of the village are exact in every particular that can now be verified, and he is accurate too in his impressions of places farther up the lake – the holiday cottages, the logging camps and all the natural landmarks. Apparently untroubled by fear of libel suits, he even used some local residents of Harrison as characters in his stories too, their identities easily recognizable to anyone living in the area. He devised very obvious equivalents for many of the local place-names:
Harrison Lake, known for its storms, is Roaring Lake; Agassiz, then surrounded by acres of hop-fields, is Hopyard; and the St. Alice Hotel is St. Allwoods. Other place-names were incorporated into the story without any attempt at all at alteration: Rainbow falls, Trout Lake, Echo Island and Mount Douglas.

The People of the Harrison by Daphne Sleigh (1990)


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Big Timber movie ticket
Big Timber
37-ft Hoo Hoo Boat
Bertrand William Sinclair
Bertrand William Sinclair
Marriage Certificate (1905) Bertrand William Sinclair and Bertha M. Bowers
Big Timber 1917 loby card
Big Timber Paramount Picture
Big Timber movie ticket
Big Timber
37-ft Hoo Hoo Boat
Bertrand William Sinclair
Bertrand William Sinclair
Marriage Certificate (1905) Bertrand William Sinclair and Bertha M. Bowers
Big Timber 1917 loby card
Big Timber Paramount Picture
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