Must Read Local Books – Vanderhoof, BC and Saik’uz

Think you know Vanderhoof, B.C.?  Think again!

Pick up copies of these local books and explore Vanderhoof, B.C. and Saik’uz history, read about local heroes and celebrities and learn about nearby places you didn’t even know existed.

Vanderhoof The Town that Wouldn’t Wait

Vanderhoof the Town that Wouldn't Wait edited by Lyn Hancock
Vanderhoof the Town that Wouldn’t Wait

Compiled and published by the Nechako Valley Historical Society in 1979 and edited by the bestselling Aussie-Canadian author Lyn Hancock is the history of Vanderhoof B.C. as told by pioneer settlers.

The book details the early years of Vanderhoof, the lives of the early settlers and homesteading, the development of law and order, the first hospital and wilderness churches, the first schoolhouse and highlights from pioneer family histories.

Stoney Creek Woman

Bridget Moran and Mary John co-wrote. “Stoney Creek Woman Saik’uz Ts’eke – The Story of Mary John.” Mary’s eulogy describes the difficulties she faced and overcame, including residential school.


Mary was a strong advocate for Carrier people and was so respected throughout the region and nationally she received an honorary degree from the University of Northern BC and the Order of Canada.

It is easy to understand why she remains an inspiration to all who knew her years after her passing.

Plants and Medicines of Sophie Thomas

Locally, strong First Nations women from Saik’uz (Stoney Creek) are some of the region’s most famous residents, including Sophie Thomas and Mary John.

Sophie Thomas was a traditional healer of the Carrier Nation and a member of the Saik’uz First Nation before her passing in 2010. Sophie passed her knowledge about traditional Carrier First Nation healing to her community and others through books and videos. Purchase “Plant’s and Medicines of Sophie Thomas” and the video, “The Warmth of Love: The Four Seasons of Sophie Thomas” from the Sophie Thomas Foundation.

from the Sophie Thomas Foundation website:


Judgement at Stoney Creek and Justa: A First Nations Leader

Bridget Moran, social worker and activist for child welfare and poverty issues authored other books about life in the Vanderhoof region in addition to “Stoney Creek Woman Saik’uz Ts’eke – The story of Mary John.” They are, “Judgement at Stoney Creek” and “Justa: A First Nation Leader“.

From the publisher, Arsenal Press:

Judgement at Stoney Creek has been released in a new edition of an aboriginal studies classic: an engrossing look at the investigation into the hit-and-run death of Coreen Thomas, a young Native woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, at the wheels of a car driven by a young white man in central BC. The resulting inquest into what might have been just another small-town tragedy turned into an inquiry of racial tensions, both implicit and explicit, that surfaced not only on country backroads but in the courtroom as well, revealing a dual system of justice that treated whites and aboriginals differently.”

Justa A First Nations Leader Dakelhne Butsowhudilhzulh'un
Justa A First Nations Leader Dakelhne Butsowhudilhzulh’un

Justa: A First Nations Leader – Dakelhne Butsowhudilhzulh’un, published by Arsenal Pulp Press who describe the book as “an intimate portrait of a passionate and courageous life.” It is the life story of Justa Monk, a man who murdered his brother during an alcoholic blackout. After a dark period of self-hatred Justa turned his life around and became Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council.





In Sight of Sinkut Mountain – Celebrating Diversity in the Nechako Valley

In Sight of Sinkut Mountain - Celebrating Diversity in the Nechako Valley
In Sight of Sinkut Mountain – Celebrating Diversity in the Nechako Valley

The book and companion DVD “provide a visual and written snapshot of the Nechako Valley, its history and a glimpse of its future……In the late 1700s the first explorers set foot in the Nechako Valley and were welcomed by the First Nations people… Despite a past dotted with tension between First Nations and settlers on this land, Vanderhoof and Saik’uz are working toward a common future where the communities are welcoming and inclusive to all residents and new immigrants to the area.”  The book was an initiative of the Good Neighbours Committee and was prepared by the College of New Caledonia.

Saik’uz and Settlers – A Weave of Local History

Saik'uz and Settlers A Weave of Local History
Saik’uz and Settlers A Weave of Local History

Another great book and DVD by the Good Neighbours Committee, written by Lisa Striegler.  The expanded play program is a historical fiction based on stories and written memories of early settlers, local First Nations, Mennonite families, pioneers and more recent immigrants, as well as from literature research.”

A work of fiction, the book contains valuable historical and regional information. The original play program is on the Good Neighbours Committee blog.

Grass Beyond the Mountains, Nothing too Good for a Cowboy and The Rancher Takes a Wife

Rich Hobson and his partner, Panhandle “Pan” Phillips formed the Frontier Cattle Company and established Home Ranch north of Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin region.  Later, Rich and his wife Gloria moved to When his partnership with Phillips ended in the 1940s, Hobson ranched south of Vanderhoof at the River Ranch.

Rich Hobson (Richmond P. Hobson, Jr) is likely Vanderhoof’s most famous historical figure on a North American scale, as the author of a trilogy of memoirs, Grass Beyond the Mountains, Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy, and The Rancher Takes a Wife. The books led to a popular CBC TV mini-series “Nothing too Good for a Cowboy”.

This video is about one of Pan Phillips’ last cattle drives.

Beyond the Chilcotin and Beyond the Home Ranch 

Diana Phillips, a current Vanderhoof resident is Pan Phillips’ daughter and an author, having written, Beyond the Chilcotin – On the Home Ranch with Pan Phillips and its sequel, Beyond the Home Ranch.

Diana’s author biography reads,

“Diana Phillips grew up on an isolated ranch with her famous father, Pan Phillips. Her love of the country and cattle kept her in the same area till 2004, when she sold her ranch and moved to Vanderhoof. She has three sons and ten grandchildren all living in the area and still works in the cattle industry.”

Home to the Nechako – The River and the Land and Nechako Country – In the Footsteps of Bert Irvine

June Wood, champion of the Nechako River and owner of the Nechako Retreat with her husband Denis, authored Home to the Nechako – The River and the Land.

“The people of the Nechako region are not unfamiliar with hardship, environmental devastation and protecting what they hold dear. June Wood chronicles the history of the Nechako River and its region, covering the construction of the Kenney Dam, which changed forever the flow of the river and its tributaries….She also delves into the aftermath of the devastating mountain pine beetle epidemic that severely harmed the economy of the region….while weaving in her personal narrative of the land that holds her heart.”

June Wood also authored Nechako Country – In the Footsteps of Bert Irvine: “Spanning 1934 to 2005, a period of unprecedented and fast-paced change, the story focuses largely on the ’50s and ’60s. As the wilderness way of life continues to be replaced by a new world of high technology, and the wilderness itself is pushed back and badly bruised, Nechako Country provides a window into the past and a lifestyle that has all but vanished. In part the story of one man’s journey through life as a trapper, guide-outfitter and jack-of-all trades, it is also a history of the upper Nechako valley, its people and the tortured Nechako River, the lifeblood of this beautiful area.”

Tatuk Lake Adventures

Norm Grove still lives in Vanderhoof and his memoir about life on Tatuk Lake and the challenges of developing and operating an 800- square kilometre trapline and living in the wilderness includes grizzly bear confrontations and stories of survival that can only take place in the most remote areas.

For more local and regional reads, be sure to check out the Mary John Collection of “over 800 books on First Nation’s related topics, including Native art, crafts, culture, medicinal plants, healing, spirituality, biographies, early journals, women’s and social issues, hunting, trapping, food and wild game recipes and living off the land, as well as books for children and young readers.” (source Vanderhoof Public Library).

Local books are available at the Vanderhoof Public Library, the Four Rivers Co-op grocery store, the Vanderhoof Museum, the Vanderhoof Department Store, and

Like what you read? Share this post!