Feature Story                                                            Saturday, March 25, 2017


Now is the Past

O'Calaghan dives into Chilliwack's historical roots with How Deep is the Lake set for release June 22   

Michael Despotovic, Caitlin Press


hat begins as a personal journey of one woman’s relationship to the land and her desire to uncover the history of her family’s remote cabin, soon turns into an exploration and questioning of our rights as settlers upon a land that was inhabited long before we came.


Shelley O’Callaghan’s research discovers a depth to the history of the Valley that runs as deep as the 1000 metre lake.


After practicing environmental law for twenty-five years. as one of Canada’s pre-eminent environmental lawyers, she turned her attention to writing: How Deep is the Lake: A Century at Chilliwack Lake.


O’Callaghan discovers her grandfather’s intriguing connection with an Indigenous Chief whose ancestry goes back to the earliest recorded history at the lake, and her grandmother’s attendance at a school where Indigenous girls were taught servitude instead of knowledge.

Anne Giardini, author of The Sad Truth About Happiness and Advice for Italian Boys, calls the book “warm, discursive, inquisitive, thoughtful…” Daniel Francis, editor of the Encyclopedia of British Columbia, “only someone with O’Callaghan’s intimate attachment to ‘the lake’ could have written such an appealing history-cum-memoir of this out of the way corner of the province."

Through the summer of her research, O’Callaghan shares her discoveries with her six grandchildren as they set off on expeditions that make the past come alive. Together they find the headstone of an American scout with the 1858 International Boundary Commission Survey, a 1916 silver mine set up by Chief Sepass, and remnants of the original Indian Trail.

They learn about trapper and prospector Charlie Lindeman, who introduced her grandfather to the lake in the early 1920s, and rescued her mother and grandmother from a fire that engulfed the lake in the 1930s.

Together with her grandchildren they consider the impact of the legacy of white settlement in the area–what is received from the past and what is given to the future. And as they reflect on the essence of a “summer cabin,” a place that brings family together and that nourishes the soul with its solitude and beauty, they gain a new perspective on the inevitable nature of change and privilege.

Join Shelley on June 15th, 7 PM, at the Chilliwack Museum and Archives for a presentation on her book.

What:  How Deep is the Lake book release

When:  June 15th, 7 PM

Where: Chilliwack Museum, 4820 Spadina Ave.

Cost: Free

About the Author

Shelley O’Callaghan practiced environmental law for twenty-five years and has been recognized as one of Canada’s pre-eminent environmental lawyers.


O’Callaghan is a member of the North Shore Writers Association, the Whistler Writing Society and the Canadian Creative Non-Fiction Collective.  She attended the 2014 Summer Workshop of the Sage Hill Writing Experience and a writer’s workshop with Merilyn Simonds in 2016.



978-1-987915-39-6 / 1-987915-39-9

Paperback, EPUB, 6" x 9", 264 pages

Memoir, Non-fiction

Paperback price: $24.95

Publication Date: March 22, 2017


For more information, visit www.caitlin-press.com or contact via e-mail here.



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