Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada's West Coast

Author: 
Phillip Vannini

Imagine living in a place where feet and cars won’t get you very far without the help of a ferry boat. Picture having to surrender your freedom of movement to the vagaries of marine weather, to restrictions imposed by ferries’ timetables and loading capacity, and to the unpredictable fluctuations of daily and seasonal traffic. Visualize having to travel up to 36 hours to reach the nearest grocery store (and having to pay up to $300 for the privilege to get to it) and then needing to wait a week for the next homebound ferry.

How would your life change? What would home feel like? What would time mean? Would you have to re-learn how to move? And how would you feel about the technology—the ferry boat and the marine highways—that shapes your life? Would you antagonize your ferry like you would antagonize an abductor, an unreliable trickster, a greedy loan shark? Or would you embrace it as a protector? An ally in your quest to make your life different? A guardian angel keeping your place safe from the perils of the outside world? Would your ferry become part of your community, of your family, of your home? Would you use it to baby-sit your kids? Would it become part of your memories, of your biography? Would you risk your life to catch it? Would you fight to defend your island from the threat of a bridge?

Based on three years of fieldwork, 250 ferry trips, 381 interviews in three dozen island and remote coastal communities this book tells stories of movement, sense of place, and time, highlighting the mundane rituals and dramas of life lived amidst routes and roots.