November 19th, 2020
In the mid-1990s, dissatisfied with their lives in Victoria, Dorothy Kirk and her partner Ed Guenther leased a cabin without electricity on Vargas Island, northwest of Tofino. In doing so they were part of a long tradition of idealistic, ‘back-to-the-landers’ in British Columbia who have sought to escape the vexations of urban life, hoping to be buoyed by closeness to nature.
Recently published, Close to the Bone (Vargas Publishing $14) is her posthumous account of their first of eight years on Vargas, until her untimely death. Written by hand, in a rocking chair on a rustic veranda, the memoir/diary frankly reveals that her life was not without its drudgery and deep dives into depression. Whereas her partner could thrive on a pedestrian diet, Kirk was less able to stomach spartan repetitions and unrelenting self-sufficiency.
This now-poignant, one-eighth of her story speaks volumes. Along with another little-known wilderness memoir by Christine Peters, it must take its place on the library shelf beside the more high-profile, wilderness works of Gillean Douglas, Deanna Kawatski and Chris Czajkowski (pronounced Tchaikovsky, like the composer). 978-1-7770118-0-2