Island professor launches book on ferry travel experiences

January 25, 2012

Victoria - To say Royal Roads professor Phillip Vannini is a ferry expert may be an understatement. Over the last five years, he's conducted 400 interviews in three dozen B.C. island and coastal communities, and spent hundreds of hours on 250 ferry rides on every route BC Ferries runs. His new book capturing those experiences, Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada's West Coast, launched this week.

"I live on an island myself and knew before my research began a lot of interesting things happen on our ferries and in the lineups - they are a microcosm of our everyday lives," said Vannini, an ethnographer who specializes in the cultural geography of the B.C. coast. "Ferry Tales goes beyond the transportation itself. It's a human interest book that captures the people and ways of being that make island life different."

Vannini hopes the research and stories in the book will provide a better understanding of how ferries are much more than a mode of transportation to many people. Through entertaining anecdotes he aims to show why British Columbians seem to have a love/hate relationship with the vessels.

"One thing that became very clear in the course of doing the research is that for people in coastal communities, our ferry systems are the highways, driveways and doors to our homes," Vannini said. He suggests government policymakers and perhaps a certain Crown corporation could do a better job of acknowledging that fact.

Ferry Tales is published in both traditional form and hypermedia. "Hypermedia is an exciting format that allows us to use digital technologies to capture stories in a richer, multimodal way," Vannini said. "For example, you can listen to a recording of someone talking about their ferry experience, while looking at various ferry life photos or even zooming in on a Google street map view of one of the villages."
The book is available online at Amazon, Chapters and through the publisher Routledge. Full proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to two non-profit organizations operating on Gabriola Island.

Vannini is a Canada research chair in innovative learning and public ethnography, and professor of communication and culture at Royal Roads University. In 2006, Vannini began his research on ferry-dependence on island and coastal communities of the west coast. Ferry Tales is the culmination of that research. He calls Gabriola Island home.

Royal Roads University was established by the Province of British Columbia in 1995 specifically to deliver quality applied and professional programs to advance professionals in the workplace. The university blends online and on-campus learning with current, real-world relevance for doctorate, graduate and undergraduate degrees, certificates, diplomas, executive and custom education.


For media queries, contact:

Communications officer Doug Ozeroff, 250.391.2526, cell 250.812.5065


Phillip Vannini, 250.325.2022


Note: A high resolution photo of Phillip Vaninni is available upon request.