Salt Spring Reads is an online book club/review. For this column I try to find books that you might love to discover, books with a Salt Spring connection. Reviewed books are available at the Salt Spring Library and in local bookstores. Feel free to share your comments to discuss this book with others.
A Castle on the Frontier, an immigrant's life journey from Holland to the Yukon, 1921-1987
I have heard it said that, after English, Dutch is the most spoken language on Salt Spring Island. I know there are quite a few Dutch immigrants on the rock and many of them have interesting stories to tell. None more so then Dutch-born John Lammers who immigrated to Canada in 1948.
He was born in 1921. Encouraged by people who listened to many of his exciting and interesting stories, John was finally persuaded to write down his memoirs.
“Are the lifetime experiences of an ordinary individual worth writing about?” he wonders in the preface to his book A Castle on the Frontier. But when you read this book, you quickly realize that John Lammers was no ordinary individual. He vividly describes life in Holland before and during World War II. In light of the recent influx of refugees, this part of his book is especially interesting as history seems to repeat itself.
Lammers and his family eventually immigrate to Canada, spending time in Alberta and Ontario before settling in the Yukon for the next 35 years and finally retiring to Salt Spring Island.
A Castle on the Frontier documents a lifetime of adventure, risk, and contemplating. Among many other things, John was the founder of the Yukon Conservation Society, and the Yukon’s first wilderness tourism operator. He and his family built a wilderness lodge at the confluence of the Yukon and Pelly Rivers. John was a dedicated environmentalist, who struggled for decades to persuade people to respect the natural world. In 1987 he permanently left the Yukon for Salt Spring Island. John Lammers passed away, at age 91, in 2013 after spending his last years on Salt Spring.
His self-published autobiography offers a fascinating inside look at life during the war in Holland, at life in the Yukon’s wilderness and a close look at what makes a successful immigrant.
The book is available at the Salt Spring Public Library.
About Margriet Ruurs
Margriet Ruurs is a Salt Spring Island author of over 30 books. Her latest book was one of five finalists for the TD Canada Book Award. She runs Between The Covers, Booklovers’ B & B.