Drawn to Sea by Yvonne Maximchuk

Drawn to Sea: Paintbrush to Chainsaw — Carving Out a life on BC’s Rugged Raincoast, by Yvonne Maximchuk is an in­tim­ate glimpse of mod­ern day pi­on­eer­ing seen through an artist’s eye.

Drawn to Sea is published by Caitlin Press
Drawn to Sea is pub­lished by Caitlin Press

In the 1980s Maximchuk was a single mom liv­ing in White Rock, BC. She sup­por­ted her two chil­dren by selling her paint­ings and pot­tery and teach­ing art. Then she met crab fish­er­man Al Munro. When Munro shif­ted to prawn fish­ing fur­ther up the coast, he in­vited Maximchuk, as well as Theda and Logan to ac­com­pany him.

Their new home — a float house only ac­cess­ible by boat or sea­plane – was anchored off Gilford Island in the Broughton Archipelago, a wil­der­ness area east of north­ern Vancouver Island.

Maximchuk rowed her chil­dren to the to the one-room school and ad­jus­ted to life with a gen­er­at­or and the fact that the nearest gro­cery store was a two-hour boat ride away. She also soaked up the beauty and tran­quil­ity of the sparsely pop­u­lated area, which soon in­fused her artwork.

But when Munro and Maximchuk split up, she faced a tough de­cision. Remain in the place she’d come to love or re­turn to an easi­er life in the Lower Mainland? If she stayed, two ma­jor pur­chases were re­quired: a chain­saw and a boat.

So began the chal­lenge of be­ing self-suf­fi­cient in an out-of-the-way pock­et of the BC coast. Maximchuk was buoyed by the friend­ship of oth­ers liv­ing nearby in­clud­ing coastal icons Alexandra Morton and Billy Proctor. Proctor, with his “If I can’t do it, no one can,” at­ti­tude was es­pe­cially help­ful and al­ways had whatever part was needed to fix any­thing and knew just how to do it.

When Maximchuk re­united with Munro, they bought land from Proctor and sweated and swore to­geth­er as they built a truly hand­craf­ted house. One that they still live in today and that now in­cludes Maximchuk’s SeaRose Studio and a lush garden.

Drawn to Sea is an hon­est, af­fec­tion­ate story about love, the land­scape and a gutsy wo­man find­ing her way in the ebb and flow of life. Maximchuk re­counts the chal­lenges and re­wards of liv­ing and work­ing in an isol­ated area and trolling with Proctor off the Queen Charlotte Islands. Nature and wild­life is nev­er far away; she’s found cou­gars in her yard, been eye to eye with a killer whale and shared a fin­shake with a dolphin.

The book is funny too. I laughed out loud over the stor­ies of Maximchuk dangling Proctor over­board in or­der to cap­ture an es­pe­cially large Japanese float, the kinks in her wed­ding day that failed to dis­pel the joy and one of her best Christmas gifts ever – an or­ange sur­viv­al suit.

Maximchuk writes with a painter’s eye and a poet’s voice cre­at­ing a richly re­ward­ing sense of place, time and emo­tion. Drawn to Sea is a BC coastal clas­sic that de­serves a place on the shelf next to M. Wylie Blanchet’s A Curve of Time. 

For more in­form­a­tion vis­it www​.yvon​nemax​imchuk​.com.

Paula and Yvonne at a Drawn to Sea book signing. Photo by Theda Phoenix.
Paula and Yvonne at a Drawn to Sea book sign­ing. Photo by Theda Phoenix.


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