Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Never Fly Over an Eagle's Nest" by Joe Garner

Never Fly Over an Eagle's Nest (Oolichan Books, 1980) Joe Garner memoir and the story of his family from the early 1900s to the late 1950s.

Joe's mother and father fled the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina, headed to San Francisco by train, and took a steamship to Vancouver, BC. Oland Garner, Joe's dad, heard about the "land of mild and honey" from his father. It sounded immensely better than death back home.

Vancouver didn't work out, so the Southern couple went by ship to the growing city of Victoria on Vancouver Island and  Oland got a construction job on the new elegant Empress Hotel.

Friends on the job invited Oland and Lona to visit their home on nearby Salt Spring Island. Shortly thereafter, the couple with their young daughter Ethel moved to a place they would call home for many years.

The book follows the lives of Oland, Lona and their ten children (nine to be born on Salt Spring Island). Several chapters were written from Joe's brothers' and sisters' point of view.

Pioneering life wasn't easy in a rented log cabin, the farm they built, or the house in Ganges. Joe was born in 1909, the third child in the large family. Much of the book revolves around the strong partnership between Joe and his slightly older brother Tom. Logging, fishing, hunting and construction projects took the family members throughout the province and beyond.

Joe was a contemporary of my mom and dad, but their experiences were drastically different. Growing up on a truck farm in rural Compton near Los Angeles, my mom didn't have any difficulty in going to school, or with child labour experiences (even though she always said she wished she had a nickle for ear of corn she packed for market).

One thing I liked about the book was hearing again about other early Coastal and Northern BC residents. Lona was a distant relative of Ralph Edwards whose homesteading experience on Lonesome Lake was chronicled in Ralph Edwards of Lonesome Lake and several other books. Also mentioned was Jim Stanton, who with his wife Lauretta, homesteaded at the head of remote Knight Inlet. Their lives were the basis for Grizzlies in Their Backyard. why should you "never fly over an eagle's nest?" You'll just have to read the book for yourself to find out the answer to that mystery.

Never Fly Over an Eagle's Nest was reprinted by Heritage House Publishing in 2010 and is available as a paperback from Or check out a local used book or thrift store. That's where I found mine. -- Margy


  1. I am writing the title down and will look for it. I like books like these.

  2. Great book review! I'm working on one about dementia!

  3. I really enjoy reading about our local area Stephanie. Those early days must have been really exciting.

    Jennifer, you provide caregivers with so much help. Kudos to you.


  4. I cannot find this on kindle. Is it available on a kindle as I don't read the old type books

    1. I bought my copy used at a thrift store. I don't think his books are offered as ebooks. I tried a Google search and didn't find any. - Margy


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy