History, quite simply, can’t be written as it happens – just ask Derek Hayes.
“You can’t really write history immediately,” the White Rock author said. “You can’t really judge what is significant from yesterday. It takes a while…”
Hayes, a prolific author of map-based history books, shared the thought while chatting about his latest publication, Canada: An Illustrated History (Douglas and McIntyre, $36.95) – an updated edition of a book first published in 2004.
In adding a chapter to bring it up-to-date and release a paperback version to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary next year, he noted that the September 2014 discovery of Sir John Franklin’s HMS Erebus is among new tidbits that prove the point.
The ship, along with the HMS Terror, disappeared in 1845, after setting sail from England in search of a Northwest Passage across what is now Canada’s Arctic. A side-scan photo of the Erebus that was released by Parks Canada within days of the discovery announcement graces page 285 of the new edition.
But this month, within weeks of publication, the Terror was found.
“Just as the book is published, they find the other ship. So… instantly out-of-date,” Hayes said, laughing. “It would’ve been nice to mention the Terror as well.”
Hayes, a geographer with a passion for old maps – which shines through in a majority of the publications he’s penned since 1999 – describes Canada: An Illustrated History as “relatively speaking, an exception to the rule.”
In meticulous detail, it extends from the early days of exploration and settlement to the 2015 federal election, through words, paintings, drawings, photos – including about two dozen of Hayes’ own – and, naturally, maps.
In addition to the HMS Erebus discovery, other new highlights include the rise of Justin Trudeau – accompanied by a photo of the prime minister that was taken by Jean-Marc Carisse. Its appeal to Hayes was directly linked to an image of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau that appeared in the book’s first edition.
“The reason I selected it is the photographer… was Pierre Trudeau’s official photographer,” said Hayes. “I thought it added to the continuity.”
Celebrations of the 2010 Olympics – including photos from the arrival of the Olympic Torch in White Rock – are also part of the revise, as is the 2014 unveiling of a statue commemorating “one of the most famous Canadian photographs of the Second World War,” Claude Dettloff’s Wait for Me, Daddy.
Taken in New Westminster in October 1940, the photo depicts a little boy rushing after his soldier father as he marched off to war.
Hayes said his book is up-to-date as of Jan. 1, 2016.
It was not his last project – he’s currently working on another book about early railways.
Hayes said a unique aspect of that project is it was his choice to pursue it.
“I used to do books that people wanted me to do. Pretty much every book I wrote was asked for by somebody,” he said.
“This one was just one that I fancied doing… because I’m interested in railways.”