Tuesday, January 06, 2015

"The Cougar Lady" by Rosella Leslie

Coastal BC is home to individualists and self-reliant people. It's been that way since first occupation by First Nations, through early European settlement, and into the present. The remote nature makes it so. Large cities like Vancouver and Victoria give way to towns diminishing size with increased distances in between. Many places are only accessible by boat.

Following World War I, Canada encouraged farmers to immigrate and settle in the west. The Solberg family left Norway in 1926, enticed by the opportunity to start a new life. Herman Solberg had farming experience, but chose to go to Vancouver and work in the city. When he lost his job, he moved the family up the coast to homestead on Sechelt Inlet. Here he built a life in the harsh wilderness and with his wife Olga, and raised his two daughters Bergliot and Minnie.

Up Salmon Inlet
Both girls grew up without formal schooling, and learned hunting, trapping, and logging at their father's side. They became as tough and independent as the land on which they lived. And they both became famous in the Sechelt community in their own way.

The Cougar Lady: Legendary Trapper of Sechelt Inlet written by Rosella Leslie has is a book about the life of Bergliot Solberg, known as Bergie. Because of her hunting prowess, she attained the radio handle Cougar Lady.  The book chronicles the life of the Solberg family, with an emphasis on the exploits of Bergie. And there were many for this woman who was as tough and independent as a man.

I enjoyed the book for several reasons. I have a Norwegian background. My grandmother's family arrived in the States in the late 1800s with a similar desire. The picture of Bergie's mother Olga reminded me of gramma with her long brown hair pulled back into a knot at the back of her neck. I admire Bergie and her sister Winnie for being so independent and self-reliant. They lived their lives by their own rules. Growing up in the big city, I felt just the opposite.  And of course, Sechelt is near our home in Powell River, where we are living up the lake in a float cabin. Maybe there's hope that a little of Bergie's independence and self-reliance will rub off on me.

There are lots of places to read about the life of Bergliot Solberg online. Here are a few:
January 2011 Harbour Spiel articles -- pages 3 and 14-15

February 2011 Harbour Spiel articles -- pages 20-21

February 2012 Oddvin Vedo Blog -- A Norwegian's blog

BigPacific.com article -- by Laurie McConnell

Coast Reporter -- book review
Do you have any good books to recommend? -- Margy


  1. Fascinating historical info, and a most intriguing book.

    ALOHA from Honolulu

  2. They sound like amazing ladies and a book worth reading. By the way, over here a cougar is a lady who chases after young men! Xxxx

    1. Here too, but this one was the real deal with the pelts to prove it. - Margy

  3. Sounds like a great book! Wonderful review.

  4. Sounds like a fascinating read ~ Cougar photo and the falls are beautiful photos!

    Happy New Year
    artmusedog and carol

  5. Sounds like a lovely book ! I am sure this book is worth reading ! Greetings !

  6. Fascinating post. Love the shots too.

  7. Such an fulfilling way of life and so independent too, I rather quite fancy it but couldn't slay a wild animal... I would have to buy meat from a local farm store. I have experienced some lake fishing so would be happy to scale and gut a fish..
    Would I pass a self sufficiency test ?

    1. Better than me, I catch and release my fish. - Margy

  8. Thanks everyone for commenting on My World post. My real world is a bit more modern, but I try to be true to self-sufficiency. - Margy