Three Against the Wilderness

Veasy’s upbringing in the wild

Cover of the Classics West edition of the book, showing Eric, Lillian and Veasy Collier outside their home


Veasy Collier downplayed the remoteness of his upbringing. He recalled his education and his leave-taking when he joined the army during the Korean war.

[Click on the 'play' arrow to hear the interview clip below.]

Veasy was mentioned in dispatches during his service in the Korean War.  He spent his working life in the forestry industry. His wife, Judy, worked as the sole teacher at the elementary school in Riske Creek when they were first married. After raising a family, she returned to teaching in Williams Lake, where she and Veasy continued to live in retirement.

Veasy died on 11 November 2012. Judy died on 15 May 2013. Their deaths were reported in the Williams Lake Tribune.

10 Responses

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  1. Mary E Regan said, on September 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I was bequeathed a batch of old books and yours was one of them , which I have read with the most enjoyment. I live in Northern Ireland with a family of five daughters and one son all gone now to have their own lives, I am still working as a librarian, (not boring very active in fact I am just about to finish my Masters in Library management and hope to graduate next May in Egyptology). This book has made such an impact on my life. The fact that people can live in isolation and live life to the full is just so amazing. I just loved the whole story of Eric, Lilian and Veasy and my grandsons are looking forward to reading your lives.

  2. Lissa Hunter said, on February 14, 2011 at 4:59 am

    My husband and I have enjoyed camping and fishing at Raven Lake near Riske Creek and this is the reason I recently purchased this book from Walmart in Victoria. Liked hearing Veasy’s honest accounts that he remembers from this time in his life. Also nice to know what happened to him. Really enjoyed the book it’s a great story.

    • Keith Gilmour said, on May 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm

      Hello! During 1960 & 1961 I lived in Williams Lake and at that time worked for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. I also purchased “Three Against the Wilderness”. I had this book for a number of years,but, a friend (?) didn’t return it so I wanted to read it again and bought it once more recently. Still a great story!! I did not remember that the Beavers came from Bowron Lake Park. Since my first trip to “Bowron” in 1963 I have gone around that circuit 13 times, the last being in 2008. Another interesting note is that when I left Williams Lake with a buddy we went to Eastern Canada and Europe for almost a year. I had a 1957 Monarch Richelieu which I traded for a 1960 V-W reported to be owned by “Veasy Collier”. That car traveled right to Halifax and back. I traded it in for a new car purchased in Chilliwack. Maybe it’s still zipping around the Fraser Valley, although I painted it a bright yellow. Maybe on thinking back a little too bright for the time! I am next month approaching year number 73 so we are of almost the same vintage. I enjoyed the web sites. Regards, Keith

  3. Dennis Edwards said, on December 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I am reading the book now and enjoying it very much. Eric Collier lived the dream that I had when I was young. I was inspired then by the stories of Jack London, and other wilderness tales. I had romantic ideas about getting away from the artificial life of a typical urban dweller and getting as close as possible to the basics of life, the struggle for existence against a tough natural world that could snuff you out if you didn’t learn its rules and learn them quickly, but which could in its gentler moments show you the most beautiful things. There isn’t room for everyone to live that way these days, even if they wanted too, but those that had the vision and determination to see it through can still inspire the rest of us. Long live nature.

  4. Alex said, on March 31, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Hello! I am from Russia and I really like the book and the story about Collier family. In Russian region where I come from there was an interesting story like Colliers business. It was business about saving beavers and it was in 1920. Group of scientists established a laboratory where they increased population of beavers and saved them from disappearance. This laboratory still works now. I have question to builders of this site. Do you have interviews of Veasy Collier in text format? I am not very good in listening English speech and do not understand some of Veasy Collier sentences but it is so interesting information. I have read this book several times. Thanks a lot for your job. This site is really interesting. There are many people in Russia who loved story of Collier family. And it is an interesting moment that in approximately same time (1920-1930) the same thought to save beavers came to persons in so far situated countries like Canada and Russia. The Colliers made a great deal for all people.

  5. Ann Penny said, on May 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    I just finished rereading this book for the third time. I think my first introduction to the Collier family was 45 years ago, long before the Internet. When I closed the book today, I wondered if I would find any mention of Veasy if I did a computer search, and to my delight, look what I found! Apparently, the story of his family has endured and the lessons learned continue to this day. I am so happy that people keep discovering Eric Collier’s timeless tale of wilderness life.

  6. Lynne Reyn said, on May 9, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I live in Christchuch New Zealand ( of earthquake fame) I have just read Three against the Wilderness for the first time and really loved it. I got it from our local library and will be recommending it to others. What stoic individuals they were, so self sufficient and brave. I think it would be a great compulsory read for high schools such thought provoking material with just a bit of how three people could change their world for the better.
    Lynne Reyn

  7. Joan said, on July 31, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Three Against the Wilderness is one of our favorite books and has been read many times.

  8. A Malcomson said, on November 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    In line with this book is the series about the Chilcotin area of BC by Richard Hodson – Grass Beyond the Mountains and The Cowboy Takes a Bride. These books describe the early efforts at homesteading just west of where the Colliers staked their claim and the pioneer cattle ranches, some of which are still in existence to this day. Edwards of Lonesome Lake was also another chronicle of one man’s efforts to pioneer in that area as well. What gripped me in these books was the ability of these men and women to improvise in the face of over whelming odds against the forces of nature and the wild.

  9. ANDREW DEAN said, on February 7, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Like Eric, I left England, and in ’73, came to Canada to work for the Hudson’ Bay Company. I stayed with them for a year, until I got a job at a paper mill for the next thirty years. I’ve been running the same trapline for thirty five years and still enjoying it. Around 1986, I read the book “Three Against the Wilderness”. On our way to Expo ’87 in Vancouver, we stopped in at Williams Lake to see if I could find the Colliers. To my delight, I found Lilian in a retirement home. I have a picture of her and myself. She directed me to Veasy’s house and my wife and I got to meet him. I remember that he showed me his dad’s rifle which was hanging on the wall at the time. It was a great delight to meet the people that you read about. I highly recommend the book!


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