Vancouver at the Dawn
(Harbour Publishing, 208 pages, 50 black and white photos, $18.95 paper) by the B.C. lawyer John Cherrington is much more a history book than a novel. Based on the published work, diaries, and family archives of Sara McLagan, the first female publisher of a daily newspaper, it is a fictional memoir that attempts to "evoke Vancouver in its tumultuous youth", when it was "thriving, magnificently beautiful, and troubled by serious social problems."
Sara McLagan and her husband co-founded the Vancouver World in 1887, and upon his death in 1901 she became the sole publisher and editor. McLagan, a dedicated social critic and activist, a committed supporter of women's rights, and the mother of four children, "commanded respect in a male-dominated power structure at a time when women were just emerging from the closeted cocoon of Victorian society." This in itself makes her an intriguing figure. But Cherrington is much more involved with the facts than the figure. The result is a book that might attract those with a specific interest in Vancouver's history, but it is unlikely to appeal to anyone looking for a good novel.