Robert Brown, a twenty-one-year-old Scotsman, arrived on Vancouver Island in 1863 for the purpose of collecting seeds, roots, and plants for the Botanical Association of Edinburgh. Relations with his employer quickly deteriorated, however, and when the opportunity arose in 1864 to head the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, Brown eagerly accepted the position as its commander. During the four and a half months of the expedition, Brown kept a journal which is published here for the first time. It is remarkable for its record of life on Vancouver Island over a century ago and its description of the island's pristine wilderness as well as for its proposals for future ecomic development. The accounts of agricultural settlements at Cowichan, Chemainus, and Comox and of the coal-mining town of Nanaimo are among the earliest available.
John Hayman is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria.