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Michael Portillo: Great Canadian Railway Journeys #7/15 – “Vancouver Island to San Juan Island”


Steered by his 1899 Appleton’s Guide to Canada, Michael Portillo continues his journey through Canada

Michael Portillo explores British Columbia, steered by his Appleton’s Guide to Canada, published in 1899. He discovers how two superpowers nearly came to war over a pig and joins the Royal Canadian Navy to firefight on board the frigate HMCS Regina. Starting on Vancouver Island, the largest island on the Pacific coast of North America, Michael explores the rich British heritage and colonial past of the provincial capital of British Columbia, Victoria. He discovers the origins of the immensely powerful and profitable Hudson’s Bay Company, a private fur-trading enterprise used as a surrogate for the extension of the British Empire in North America.

In the affluent James Bay area of Victoria, Michael discovers the former home of a Canadian national icon, an early 20th-century artist who documented the art and culture of the indigenous people of the western coast, Emily Carr. At Saanichton, Michael visits the studio of a present-day First Nations artist and helps to carve a 36- foot totem pole.

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