Read This: 5 Cozy BC Retreats With Books To Match

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Diving in to a great novel? Bliss. Diving in to a great novel with the feeling that you’ve just stepped onto the pages? Even better. And winter is the perfect time for a delicious few days of down time: unplugged, off the grid, and snuggled into a window seat with a blanket and a view.

We’ve paired some of BC’s top retreats with books that conjure the very same ambiance, setting, and mood. Try this recommended reading list to wrap yourself in the experience, not to mention sharpen your literary chops and get lost in a good yarn.

Ecoscape Cabins, Port Hardy

Choose your own cozy home-away-from-home on six hectares (15 acres) at Ecoscape Cabins, way up in Port Hardy at the wild north end of Vancouver Island. Fish, hike the North Coast Trail, and watch bald eagles and bears from the cedar deck. Then imagine what it must have been like, plying the coastal waters in a small boat with five kids…

Read: The Curve of Time by Muriel Wylie Blanchet

This biography celebrating 50+ years is a BC classic. It’s the true adventure story of a mother left widowed in 1927 on a remote island, who, with her five young children, spent their summers fearlessly navigating a 25-ft (7.6-m) boat through Vancouver Island’s Inside Passage. All the while, she taught her kids about the wonders of Mother Nature and braved anything from bears and cougars, orcas and rapids, to stormy seas and turbulent tides.

Minette Bay Lodge, near Kitamaat Village

Kitamaat Village on BC’s sparsely populated North Coast is a tiny First Nations hamlet, home to almost half of 1,700 Haisla members. Meet the locals and stay nearby at Cape Cod-style country house Minette Bay Lodge, the area’s only shorefront property, set on  30 hectares (75 green acres). Hike the trail network, ski, or soak in the hot tub, then bed down in comfort in one of 10 plush rooms.

Read: Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Robinson grew up in Haisla culture, inspired by horror master Stephen King. She sets her story in Kitamaat, where Indigenous traditions and modern life mingle—and clash. With honesty and dark humour, she paints a picture of teen Lisa, who taps into the spirit world after her brother goes missing at sea. Robinson is the first Haisla writer to publish an English-language novel and one of Canada’s first female Indigenous authors to catch the global limelight.

Halcyon Hot Springs Cabins | Adrian Wagner

Halcyon Hot Springs’ Cabins, near Revelstoke

It’s easy to imagine the pioneers, prospectors, and railway workers of yore in the Kootenay Rockies, a rugged, mountainous region that lured tough-as-nails dreamers and adventurers. Overnight in one of the handsome craftsmen-style wood chalets at historic Halcyon Hot Springs, on the shore of Upper Arrow Lake surrounded by the Monashee Mountains, and bathe in the lithium-rich natural mineral pools. The resort has been around since the 1890s.

Read: Treading Water by Anne DeGrace

Modeled on Renata, BC, this novel tells the tale of a dozen immigrant settlers at the turn of the century. A historical profile of a place in time, it involves trappers, war brides, labourers, Mennonites, and Ursula Hartmann, the first born and last forced to leave her little village as the Columbia River Treaty drowned it—and many others—under water forever.

God’s Mountain Estate, Penticton

British Columbia’s fertile, arid Okanagan Valley is known for peaches and corn and some of Canada’s best wineries. In the off season when the vines are slumbering, you can have it all to yourself for quiet cycles through the rolling vineyards, horseback rides along the vast lake, intimate tastings, and leisurely dinners over flights of local vintages.

Quirky and just a bit bohemian, God’s Mountain Estate is a white-washed Mediterranean-style villa perched atop a cliff on a vineyard. Relax and read in the Penthouse, especially from your private tub in front of the fireplace. (Return in summer for the Roofless Room, in which you recline in a canopy bed under the stars.)

Read: Crush: A Wine Thriller by Jennifer Fraser

Pour a glass of (Okanagan) wine and crack into this fast-paced crime novel set in nearby Osoyoos. It follows investigative war journalist Paige Munro, who, while taking a break on a fluff travel assignment in wine country to recover from PTSD, stumbles across a cross-border smuggling scheme.

Highwater House (Sk’wa Kansgad Naay), in Naikoon Park near the Village of Masset

Like Haida Gwaii itself, oceanfront Highwater House is far-flung and cradled in pristine wilderness. This lone wood-and-glass treehouse perched on stilts overlooks the beautiful desolation of Graham Island—one of the 150 craggy islands off BC’s central coast that make up the eco-diverse archipelago—on out to Alaska. Read under the pitch-roof skylights, unwind in the soaker tub with views of the spruce canopy, or just watch the tides ebb and flow over the dunes through the huge wrap-around windows. The quietude is yours to savour.

Read: The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant

In 1997, activist Grant Hadwin shocked Canadians by felling a revered, one-of-a-kind 300-year-old Sitka Spruce in sacred old-growth forest on First Nations’ land—but why? An award winner and top seller, this non-fictional page-turner weaves that complex conflict pitting loggers, environmentalists, Pacific Northwest Haida Indigenous people, and white settlers against the backdrop of the misty, mythical Haida Gwaii.

Read to escape and relax? Find 5 Cosy Cabins for a BC Getaway.


Originally published in November, 2018.

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