We are a small press based on Saturna Island, BC, specializing in books about local history.

About Us

Cliffside Publishing is run by David and Sofia Osborne, a father-daughter editing and publishing team, and supported by the Cliffside Publishing Community Association. Since moving to beautiful Saturna Island in 2015, David has become fascinated with the island's history. He has enlisted the help of his daughter, Sofia, an experienced editor and creative writing graduate student, to help bring these stories to life.

Now available at the following bookstores: Saturna General Store, Bolen Books (Victoria), Books on Mayne, Galiano Island Books, Talisman Books & Gallery (Pender Island). Please ask for them at your local bookstore

Mayne Queen: The Passing of a Ferry

John Wiznuk

This book is a history of one of the first ships in the fleet of the British Columbia Ferries system. It is a memoir of the ship, her role in serving the Southern Gulf Islands (SGI) and other parts of coastal B.C., and a description of the her relationship with the people of the SGI and elsewhere who rode her over the decades. It celebrates her retirement from regular service, and the 62nd year of the B.C. Ferries service, in 2022. Author John Wiznuk has a keen interest in BC maritime history, has lived in the SGI for decades, and has ridden his beloved Mayne Queen countless times in the daily carrying out of tasks both mundane and sublime.

Reviews:
Requiem for the Mayne Queen
Gary Dale's Scribbler Review
A Queen Retires

Making a Living on Saturna: Money Family

An oral history by Bill Schermbrucker

Reviews:
Saturna Island’s Money family
Book Review: Making a Living on Saturna – Money Family

Making a Living on Saturna: Jon and Priscilla

An oral history by Bill Schermbrucker

Jon Guy and Priscilla Ewbank arrived separately on Saturna island in the 1970s, joining their energies and imaginations to make a living and a family over the decades. Their love of the land and food, and a willingness to work hard at whatever was available, led to a rich history that is recounted in these interviews with local writer and historian Bill Schermbrucker. From Haggis Farm Bakery to the Saturna General Store, their story exemplifies what it takes to thrive in this small island community.

Reviews:
Island Life - BC Book Look
1310 Scratching a living on Saturna - The Ormsby Review

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Book Review: A Queen Retires
by Christa Grace-Warrick

The arrival of BC Ferries newest ship Salish Heron (this week) at Victoria’s Ogden Point
—all the way from Gdansk in Poland—is a great moment to wave an old queen goodbye.
Salish Heron will replace Mayne Queen on Southern Gulf Islands’ Routes 5 and 5A this spring.
John Wiznuk’s new book Mayne Queen: the passing of a ferry gives her a royal send off.
The contrast of the two names is a sign of the times. Ships used to be female and royal
but now they are named for places and wildlife.
This colourful book traces Mayne Queen’s long career from her keel being laid in 1965
at Victoria Machinery Depot—at the aforementioned Ogden Point, incidentally. The narrative
doesn’t stop there and, in fact, starts with a good deal of southern coast boating history since settler days began, which will delight west coast aficionados.
He has done BCFerries and its predecessors proud, weaving in all sorts of curious and interesting facts and technical details. So many things have passed into history, like BC Ferries’ original Dogwood fleet flag, a brilliant green with a simple dogwood blossom in the centre.
Wiznuk’s record, with its many photos, helps us remember. It is also a personal testament to the grand old lady on which he has sailed for decades.
Adding a bit of drama, is Chapter 4: Groundings, Hard Landings and Close Calls. I have myself been on board at one of those close calls and they do add romance to islands’ life and are great yarns to tell— once we are safe and sound. We have skillful crews to thank that such things are few and far between. The people she has carried on her comings and goings are not left out; in Chapter 3, Wiznuk gives us a ‘day in the life’ of the ferry, starting from his island, Saturna. Plying Southern Gulf Islands routes, Mayne Queen has served Galiano, Mayne, Saturna and Pender Island communities. So well-loved is she that she even got a 50th birthday party, including a cake
which the crew enjoyed. In fact, three cakes one for each watch.
In these days of rapidly growing population, many will be glad to see a somewhat bigger ferry take over and solve those line-up and overload problems. Southern Gulf Islands early morning capacity will jump by 88 cars. But some of us will swallow down the lump in our throats. Luckily John Wiznuk has given us a detailed book with which to remember her.

Book Review: Mayne Queen Review as seen in the Scribbler
by Gary Dale, long-time, part time resident of Saturna, and retired Project Manager at BC Ferries

In Mayne Queen; The Passing of a Ferry, John Wuznuk illustrates the amazing evolution of what we have come to know as BC Ferries through the lens of one of its smallest, oldest and most beloved ships, and her relationship with Saturna Island, where John has lived since the early '90s. As John wrote, “the Mayne Queen has been the faithful transporter of islanders and visitors over the Salish Sea during the fifty-six years of its existence and is scheduled for replacement in 2022”

John's telling of the Mayne Queen's history begins with the First Nations. “The First Nations travelled freely back and forth among the islands, between the mainland and what we now call Vancouver Island, from the harbour of T’Sou-ke on the southwest coast of the big island to the islands of Haida Gwaii in the north on elegant, hand-carved, seaworthy cedar canoes.” John goes on to describe the maritime history of our coast from first contact with Europeans through the subsequent years of colonialism, population increase, and the economic and political pressures that eventually led to the creation of BC Ferries.

He describes how the Mayne Queen inherited the double-ended design (can be driven in either direction), open deck, and drive on/drive off design from earlier ferries which proved very efficient at moving cars and trucks quickly on and off. This basic design is still in use today with new vessel construction. He also records the history of the various refits, upgrades, and improvements that transformed the vessel over her 56 years of service.

The Mayne Queen's special relationship with Saturna Island is not unique, but it is a special relationship in our part of the world. John has spent most of his life immersed in maritime history, writing, record keeping, and participating in island and coastal life. It is fitting that he has preserved her particular history in this book. His description of the day to day life of a Saturna Islander trying to live in a way that requires a connection to the larger world for various needs like shopping, medical appointments, social engagements, and employment, as well as shuttling BC Hydro, Telus and many other essential services to and from Saturna, is enlightening to those of us that have never lived on a small island. The residents rely upon a complex schedule of the service and this is why the Mayne Queen, which has been their primary carrier for many decades, is so near and dear to them.

John also dedicates a chapter to “Groundings, ‘Hard Landings’ and Close Calls“ that the fleet has experienced over the years. It is a stark reminder to those of us who take the safety we enjoy when travelling on our ferry system for granted.

Saturna Island, like many coastal communities, would not have thrived as we know and love her without BC Ferries. Since the earliest days, the corporation has at times had a difficult relationship with the people of BC, yet John has recounted with a balanced hand the good times, the sometimes tragic times, and the struggles that have kept our coastal communities connected.

I had the privilege of working for BC Ferries (now retired) and was involved in refitting the Mayne Queen years ago. This gave me the wonderful opportunity to see the many men and women working ‘ behind the curtain’. That they have kept her running back and forth reliably for so many years is a tribute to the collective dedication of her crews. This and my family's connection to Saturna leaves me sad to see the Mayne Queen near the end of her service life. John's book is a fitting tribute to the Mayne Queen, her crews and support workers, as well as the rest of the fleet, which has been so much a part of British Columbians' lives for so many years. Mayne Queen; The Passing of a Ferry will be enjoyed by anyone who has lived or longed for BC coastal life and more broadly by anyone interested in the realities of island life and the ferries that connect communities to them.

Book Review: Making a Living on Saturna – Money Family
by Paul Sinclair

The title of this series of books about some of the influential families on Saturna says it all. Making a Living on Saturna goes right to a subject at the heart of the lives of many island residents. A previous edition told the story of Jon Guy & Priscilla Ewbank, and an earlier book related the lives of Jim & Lorraine Campbell. What can we learn from those who have gone before us and achieved such success?

One way is to read their stories, in their own words, as reported by an accomplished interviewer and story-writer. Someone who can ask the questions we might have asked, and to respectfully direct the conversation to events they may prefer not to discuss. This was the task that the late Bill Schermbrucker set himself before he died in 2019. He interviewed many people before they passed away or moved off island and then wrote masterful oral histories.

I’m one of those seasonal visitors to the island that made their lives elsewhere, worked for many years, and brought my retirement savings to live on Saturna, so I can’t speak to the challenges of permanent life here. However, I have been fortunate to meet the subjects of these books during the last fifteen years, to be helped by them as my wife and I built our house, and to receive the gift of friendship from some of them.

The message that comes through strongly in this book is the hard physical work and willingness to take risks that John and Carol Money have displayed throughout their lives. Another is that they have no sooner made a success of one endeavour than they are ready to pass the torch to someone else and try their hands at something new. It can hardly be overstated how difficult such choices are for many of us. It’s so easy to work hard for success at something, and then when we achieve it, try to hold on to the point of diminishing returns.

The first half of the book is a question-and-answer story about John’s life from his childhood in the 1940’s to the present. He quite readily allows that he benefitted from his father’s far-sighted purchase of large tracts of land on Saturna, but makes the case that he had to make his own way to earn the right to inherit the property. Part of that responsibility is to know that land is not something to be always used purely for personal profit. Another part is to recognise that simply owning something can hardly give the life satisfaction and sense of achievement that work provides.

Accordingly, the Money family (including John and Carol) donated many pieces of land over the years for the benefit of the community. In fact, the list of amenities that we all enjoy such as the Recreation Centre, Medical Centre, Fire Hall, Money Lake Reservoir, and others, would not have been possible without the generosity of the family. And the giving was not only of inherited land but also the time and manual labour to develop the facilities. John continued his construction business even while working on many other projects.

An unfortunate part of island life that peeks through the stories is the friction and misunderstandings that can crop up in a small community. I suppose it’s inevitable that there will be little conflicts between people when they have competing needs and desires. Fortunately for us, they fade with time and we are left with the positive achievements of lives well-lived.

The second part of the book is a memoir written by Carol Money herself. Many of us read her regular columns in the Scribbler community magazine about gardening, so it comes as no surprise that this is a well-written story told with modesty and enthusiasm. Not one to take a back seat in the running of the family landscaping & construction businesses, Carol also started one of her own: a Nursery selling plants, flowers, and apples. She also did much of the running of the East Point Resort that John had built in the early years, including the cleaning work.

Where did she find the time to do all this while bringing up six children? I always marvel that Carol can still write such lengthy and varied instructions on timely garden activities in every issue of the Scribbler (nine times a year!). It may be something to do with good time-management, or perseverance, or perhaps it comes from her upbringing in a large family. Probably all of these, but you can read her story and decide for yourself.
Finally, I want to commend David Osborne for deciding to publish the work started by Bill Schermbrucker, with the help of Mark Timmings, Sofia Osborne, and others. The beautiful design of the book, complete with many pictures from the family archives, makes for fascinating reading about the history of Saturna Island.

The book is published 2022 by Cliffside Publishing, ISBN 9781777544218 (soft-cover). Price $17.00