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Caitlin Press

Kechika Chronicler
Willard Freer's Northern BC and Yukon Diaries, 1942-1975
By (author): Jay Sherwood
Jay Sherwood




Product Form:

Feb 24, 2023
$26.00 CAD


9in x 6 x 0.8 in | 340 gr

Page Count:

216 pages
Caitlin Press
HISTORY / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Short Description

In Kechika Chronicler, award-winning historian Jay Sherwood delves into the diaries of reclusive packer Willard Freer to uncover daily life in one of the most remote areas of BC.

In Kechika Chronicler, award-winning historian Jay Sherwood delves into the diaries of reclusive packer Willard Freer to uncover daily life in one of the most remote areas of BC.

Willard Freer lived in remote areas of northern BC for most of his life. Born in Kamloops in 1910 and raised in the Peace River country, Freer came to the Kechika River valley in 1942, where he worked for a number of years with famed packer and guide Skook Davidson. He then built a cabin about 35 kilometres to the north and spent the rest of his life in the valley, and at Fireside, an Alaska Highway lodge near the junction of the Kechika and Liard rivers.

By all accounts, Freer was a quiet, introverted person, who faithfully kept a daily diary from 1942 to 1975. Most of the entries are brief, but cumulatively they provide a detailed record of life in northern BC and southern Yukon Territory. Due to his proximity to the famed Alaska Highway and the historic Davie Trail, Willard encountered many of the Indigenous people who lived, worked and travelled through the Kechika valley, as well as casual visitors, bush pilots, government survey parties including the Geological Survey of Canada, major mining companies, and branches of the US Army in northern BC during World War II.

Willard Freer’s diaries are the most extensive written record of daily life in one of the most remote regions of British Columbia. Kechika Chronicler provides a voice for his story.

  • Jay Sherwood is a well-known author and historian in the Northern BC region and surveying/packer history community
  • Freer’s writing chronicles the more minute and less historically documented interactions of the Indigenous communities in the Peace River area with the settlers, packers and prospectors, bringing a new perspective to the history of Northern BC
  • To be richly illustrated with archival photos and maps

Jay Sherwood started his career in surveying before becoming a teacher-librarian. Now retired, he is the author of twelve books on BC history, including the four-book series about the career of surveyor Frank Swannell. Two of his works have been BC Book Prize finalists, and three have received BC Historical Federation awards. Ootsa Lake Odyssey (Caitlin Press, 2016) won the 2018 Jeanne Clarke Memorial local history award. His most recent publications have been the two-part series on the Alberta/BC boundary survey. Sherwood currently lives in Burnaby, BC.

  • Media outreach to the Vancouver Sun, BC Bookworld, BC History, BC Historical Federation, CBC Daybreak North, and the Alaska Highway News
  • Extensive tour through BC communities with presentations in collaboration with local historical societies and libraries
  • Pitching to the Yukon Writers Festival 
  • Advertising in BC History and BC Bookworld
  • Submission to relevant prizes, including BC Historical Federation Awards, BC & Yukon Book Prizes, Jeanne Clarke Memorial Award, Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing 
  • Connect with the Northwest Library Federation, Museum of Northern BC, Peace River Museum, Archives & Mackenzie Centre, Fort St. John North Peace Museum, Hudson’s Hope Museum, UNCB Northern BC Archives, and Surveying BC

For more information contact
[email protected]

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