Virtually Squamish

I have a confession to make. Even though Hidden Dawn is set almost entirely in the BC adventure town of Squamish, I’ve never actually been there. In fact, I’ve never even been to British Columbia or Canada or anywhere in the Americas. It is only through the marvels of Google, local interest websites and travel guides that this book was possible.

I have to say that even though I’ve never been to Squamish, it feels like my home from home. Through the World Wide Web I have walked down the streets of Sky’s new town, I’ve checked out the shops and gazed longingly at the beautiful views. So, I’ve put together a few sights with the help of the lovely Google for those of you who are also unfortunate enough not to have seen this beautiful part of the world first hand.

Here is Squamish on the map. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Vancouver and sits at the northern end of Howe Sound.

It is surrounded by provincial parks and mountains so it’s perfectly situated for outdoor pursuits and exploration. Here’s a rather smashing view from a hillside overlooking the town. Imagine waking up to that every day!

Sky spends a lot of her time trekking through the lush BC forest, which is predominantly coniferous but constitutes some of the most ecologically diverse forests in Canada, ranging from temperate rainforests to alpine meadows. BC also has the greatest biological diversity in Canada with more than half of the country’s wildlife making their homes there. In my book, that makes it a pretty wonderful place. With 62% of BC covered in forest the province is fairly rich in green gold but fortunately forestry is highly sustainable. For every tree that is cut down an average of three seedlings are planted, which has kept CO2 levels in the province at those of 1980 despite a significant increase in energy consumption and pulp/paper production. Go BC! In addition, 15% of forests are in protected areas and only 24% is available for harvesting so the province will stay this green for the foreseeable future. You can find all these facts and more at the Council of Forest Industries website.

Some of the action in Hidden Dawn takes place at Howe Sound Secondary School whose facade has become almost iconic to me now. It has a lovely blue/green roof, epic views and a fairly spectacular entrance.

Around the back you can see the car park where Dawn decided to cause havoc and the little trail leading off to the left where Sky and Connor pedalled like mad to draw the elk away. That was a fun scene to write!

The shopping precinct also features with Connor’s dad’s shop the very useful supplier of camping equipment and bear scarers. And, of course, this was the setting of Sky’s first fateful encounter with the poachers. Boo hiss!

Of course, the story does not take place exclusively in Squamish. Vancouver plays quite a big role and especially the school trip to the Museum of Vancouver. Here is the entrance in all its crabby, space-shippy glory. If I ever do get to go to Vancouver, I would spend an awful lot of time here!

Last, and absolutely not least, I wanted to show you a bit of Vancouver Island, the home of the Kwakwaka’wakw (and, yes, I do love saying that word as often as possible. It is delicious to pronounce!). Here is the view from Shushartie, which is around about the area Sky and Connor visit to test Sky’s abilities. This kind of country is absolutely threaded through my bones, it’s where my heart yearns to be. Dense, lush forest, serene water and rocky shores. I can practically smell the sea, the sky and the forest from here.

One day. One day.

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